First off, this is a fucking AMAZING Aerosmith song. Good luck trying to hear this on the radio and not belt it out with all your heart. It’s impossible.
But this post isnt about Aerosmith or Karaoke. This post is about what it takes to make something from start to finish. I'm talking about the basic mechanics of how things are made. This doesn't even take into account the creative and emotional process that is involved for a maker to create something out of nothing, photograph it, advertise, create a listing in a website, create meaningful packaging, and put it in the hands of consumers.
One of biggest hurdles as a business owner who sells things they make (and trust me, there are a shit ton of hurdles) is trying to attach value to what we create. I can’t tell you how many times someone has said: “I can’t believe you charge $40 for this when I can get it at Target for $10.” Or “But this is only like $3 in materials.” Or “it only took you like an hour, how come you are charging me this much?” Don’t get me wrong, this post isn’t fueled out of irritation, or intended to shame or blast on people who have legitimate arguments and points of view.
This is about educating our customers, and giving them a peek into the mind of a creative. As an artisan maker, we don’t just make “stuff,” we tell stories with our products. We create extensions of our heart and soul into tangible goods for others to enjoy. It’s our duty to show them what it is that makes them unique and special, and the benefit not just in the item itself, but for the value it brings to the end consumer.
I was in the Southwest and had the privilege to drive through Navajo Nation and Tribal lands. I got to meet some Indigenous People and learn a little bit about the jewelry and art they make, and how so much of what a single maker makes fuels the income for their entire family. I’m not talking about “visitor center” merchandise, I’m talking about independently owned, family run trade posts. The dedication to supreme craftsmanship and the love infused into each item is very apparent.
I wanted to get a Navajo woven rug, but it was not within my budget. A beautifully woven rug went anywhere from $900 for a piece the size of a dining placemat, to $2500+ for actual rug sized pieces that you hang on walls. If had the coin, I’d be all about it.
It was clear that they too get the “You charge how much? I can get this at World Market for like $60.” So someone made this, and I thought it was worth sharing.
I didn't want to write this post to guilt people who buy commercially made goods. I do it all the time. I love love love me some Target and World Market! They have a lot of my money. This post was designed to help show the difference between a handcrafted item made by the working hands of an independent artist or small batch business and a tiny portion of what it takes to morph that from a pile of raw materials into a beautiful Item you will cherish.
Next time you see a handcrafted item in a boutique that you like, think about the journey it made to get to that store. Relish in the quality and even in the imperfections and know that there is no other item identical to it and that it was made by a real person, just for you!
Hugs & High Fives!