Tracking progress

I started writing this last night. I didn’t want to write it then, I kind of don’t want to write it now; but I need to log (somewhere) what I’ve been doing since my last entry on May 1. I have been lax in keeping up my Bullet Journal records over those same days, but my computer records (last save dates) are intact.

Most of my work has been circling around pricing, meaning it’s most usefully done on the computer (where I have records and spreadsheets), and at my desk (where I am surrounded by more records, trial models, etc.) — even as much as I may not want to be right here, in this chair, in this room, again. As well: I have the ability to integrate media into my postings online — though that will most likely be images, not .mp4 files. The same data is considerably more irritating to integrate into a paper journal, and it wouldn’t be as easy to recover, later. If WordPress is using a LOCKSS framework in addition to cloud storage, as well — the data is safer than on one piece of paper stored somewhere in my house, which is vulnerable to being lost.

Although it makes the most sense to post this on the computer (though maybe not publicly on the computer), there are some things that I really should not say — much of it relating to private machinations in figuring out pricing. I have never really liked having to set prices. There are also some potential legal barriers to talking about pricing in public, though I’m not sure how much they would apply to me in specific as a tiny manufacturer/designer and not an established huge business. (I’ll try and keep my discussion general, here.)

The things I’m not supposed to say have been keeping me away, recently. I mean, I like to do quality work with quality materials…but pricing it so that it’s both accessible to other people, and sustainable for me, is a different matter. It would also be a different matter, should I gain a day job: I’m still looking, not so much applying right now. I’m still waiting for my vaccination so that I’m prepared to go to job interviews. I’m also not entirely certain what kind of job, out of all the jobs I’m qualified for (or smart enough for), I want to do.

Right now I’m lucky enough not to have to earn a salary, but that still sets a rational limit on what I can (or should) do, particularly because I’m not selling at this time.

At a certain target price I’ve set which is lower than suggested markup, it would mean that to earn a living wage for a single person in my current location with my highest profit-margin (but still labor-intensive) products would take 37 hours of work a week, just making things to sell, without photography or image optimization or listing or mailing or blogging or Social Media presence or newsletters or record-keeping or tax preparation or ordering new materials or design — and I’d have to sell all of it, which is around 4 items/day. This is very likely the path of a new businessperson in general…that is, putting in much more than 40 hours/week. Just how much more, I’m not certain — I haven’t even tried to estimate it, yet. It would take timing all the stuff I do related to the business which is relatively unrelated to physical manufacturing…which in turn, takes categorizing all of that stuff, so that I know when I’m doing it.

If I follow the markup I’ve seen suggested, it would take 30 hours of work a week, just making things to sell…but the cost to the retail customer is higher than I’d wish, and it would likely lead to decreased sales. Now…am I comfortable with that?

The problem with lowering my retail price is that it also lowers my wholesale price…and the wholesale price needs to be something I can live with, especially if I want to work with boutiques or galleries (I know that’s out there, but if we’re dreaming, why not dream big). I’ve found a potential workaround for this…to set a higher price and run sales regularly. It’s something I’ve seen a lot of businesses do; particularly the ones which do quality work, geared towards special audiences. (Which…am I? I guess I…am…?)

And then…there’s the fact that just because I’m familiar with all these materials…the wider public almost certainly, is not. Neither do they necessarily know anything about beadweaving, wirework, how to use the tools or techniques involved, the intricacies of thread tension and thread elasticity and durability, lifetimes of different bead finishes, etc. And nor do they necessarily want to know. I suppose I need to ask myself whether my target audience contains beaders, or not. It has not been a question that has ever come up, particularly because I don’t know many beaders in person. The vast majority of people I’ve sold to would rather buy from me than make this stuff, themselves; I get the feeling they don’t know how to. Even Jewelers don’t necessarily know how to make these things.

There’s also the fact that I haven’t figured in the cost or price of items to sell which make up for lower profit margins on higher-investment products (meaning, in this case, things which take a lot more time to make)…or whether to use more higher-cost materials (crystal, stone, pearls) to help justify a higher end price. I did estimate the breakdown of my costs…for the model I was working, around 2/3 of my materials costs were in metals, which sounds about right.

I’m trying not to work in gold-plate if I can avoid it: using gold-fill drives the cost up (even though gold-fill often looks less “bright” than gold-plate, despite having more gold). Solid gold is so much more expensive than gold-fill that it’s not worth it to think of using it. Then there’s silver…which I do love, and is much less expensive.

I’ve been playing around with numbers over the past four days, I’m sure you can see. This is why I wanted to do this work on the computer: my numbers are right here.

I’ll also likely get faster at production, the more I work. I did complete a couple of trials of the Bee earrings…both of which are in my trial, “Library,” (it’s now a box for index cards with notes and samples) not for sale. The good news is that they took me far less than an hour and a half each to make this time; the better news is that I found a way to improve the design. I still have a couple of questions to work out with them (what does it look like if I use three 11/0s instead of two? or a Czech 13/0 instead of a Japanese 15/0?)…but they’re looking pretty good, about now.

Published by Haruna

Haruna is a Librarian by training, currently pivoting from Public Services into Technical Services. Their undergraduate major was English -- Creative Writing, and they hold an additional small degree in Art (i.e. Visual Arts). They are now pondering whether a career in Academia is viable or desirable, given the current situation.

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