Friday, 10 November 2017

Pricing Your Work

Kaipara Valley Shawl
Pricing Your Work and Meeting The Market.

I want to talk about putting a price on work ready for sale.

We all consider doing this -large projects or small, hand-dyed yarn or finished shawls. It is a fraught process and the big word needed is TRUST.

-Trust in the product.
-Trust in the venue or platform.
-Trust in your worth.

The buyer has to trust you, the maker, completely as well.

This last line becomes vital when making a "one-off" piece because there is nothing to compare it with. Skeins of wool on an on-line platform can be viewed and considered at the click of a mouse or at the squeeze of a hand at a trade show. 

I'd like to think that this is the where that imaginary line between craft and art intersect because a shawl with an original design and a story behind it is where the maker and the buyer meet. The buyer feels they are buying a little of you -the maker because it is bound up in the work.

Buying a little of the maker's soul is well known to artists. It's understood as a kind of Spiritual Contract directly between the artist and the buyer. Big collections in Art Galleries have a complicated contract as it is not a directly personal one until you, the viewer, get to stand in front of it.

Corner Placement for Kaipara Valley Shawl
And how do you put a price on that Spiritual Contract....that visceral feeling in your gut when you know you like it and can value the effort in the making?

I go back to trusting the venue: Sometimes the sale has to happen in the right place, at the right time, with the right group of people and the right business model.

We all know there are Art and Craft Markets and then there are Trade Shows; Each have their peculiar tone, feel, access, parking, and amenities. You may feel confident about spending and then you might not. We sellers have the same list of venues and we know that it takes much more than a cosy space to sell wool. It needs confident shoppers, coffee, comfort food, and a bit of pressure such as exclusivity or seasonal changes.

Part of the Story of The Shawl 

Then, there is the Story: If your piece is to sell there must be a story , and one that people can relate to. 

I was happy to place the Kaipara Valley Shawl in the Art Auction run for The Helensville Women and Family Centre because the venue, the people, the promotion and the auction sale process allowed for that visceral link with a couple of bidders. 

The Story accompanied the Shawl as it was displayed for viewing. Winning at the local A&P Show and its design origins coming out of a firm rejection at one of our local Charity Shops, made good reading for the good people of Helensville. That rejected used throw was un-picked and re-knitted into the prototype for the shawl above. The Story and the anger that inspired the next shawl was important.

Having two bidders helped too.

Iconic Classic Shawl Lines on the Kaipara Valley Shawl 
In the end I placed a high reserve price on the Shawl. It meant it was passed in at the Auction but sent a strong message to those gathered that this was a serious work with a serious price. 

The next day I was visited by the Auction Promoter with the good news that a price had been price. Later I was also visited by the buyer. It was an important meeting as she was a woman of some standing in our local community...and she wanted the shawl for her grandson's Christening.

Yes it all took time and energy. Talk to any artist about how they go about making sales and they will talk about the almost-stripping-bare-to-the-depths-of-ones-soul agony in making sales.

That is the difference between Art and Craft......satisfaction and agony. Satisfaction with a craft well worked, and agony at the amount of ones soul one gives with each work.

Always put a label on..... 
So....aim high on all aspects. Choose your venues well, choose your clientele well, choose your platform/site well. Have the story ready and make it a heartfelt one. Promote clearly and well....and have TRUST in your work.


Fiona MacBride

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