Thursday, May 14, 2009

Etsy Selling to Brides {Or Etsy Selling to the Most Difficult and Demanding Demographic EVER} ~ A Tiny Rant

I love working with brides to meet their needs and create the perfect garter{s} for their special day. I really do. And I love making garters in general. I love picking out the ribbon, doing the actual sewing, and picking on the embellishments for each garter I create. But contrary to popular belief, I do not do these things out of the goodness of my heart. While I take pleasure out of these things, my garter business serves first and foremost to supplement my income, which during these rough economic times is turning out to be essential.

My garters are competitively, and I feel reasonably, priced. All my individual garters are between $9.99 and $12.49 {garter sets are usually double that}, and considering that I spend between 45 minutes to an hour on each garter, I’m not raking in the bucks on this business endeavor. But I am okay with that. The cost of materials is minimal, and my profit thus far has been sufficient. I enjoy what I do, and it's nice to earn a little extra money being creative. But I don’t really feel that I can afford to sell my garters for anything less than their current asking price.

When a bride asks me for a discount when purchasing more than two garters, I don’t quite know how to respond. I understand asking for a discount when buying “in bulk.” I really do. And I’ve read enough bridal magazines to know that it is suggested that brides ask their vendors for discounts. But I have to wonder if that suggestion should really apply to handmade items… I mean, how much of a discount can I be asked to give when it will take me the same amount of time to make their items whether they buy one or five? And when my profit is so minimal to begin with!

Take for example a recent request I received on Etsy. The bride wanted four toss garters {one in each of her wedding colors, which were red, orange, lime green, and purple} and one keepsake garter. The garter style she had chosen for her toss garter is one that I sell for $9.99, and she wanted to know how much of a discount I could give her. I thought about it, and responded that I could do each of the toss garters for $8.99 and the keepsake garter for a flat rate of $9.99, regardless of what options she chose for that garter. This seemed fine to her, and I went ahead and ordered orange and lime green ribbon as I did not have it in stock. But when I followed up with her to let her know the ribbon had arrived, she responded that she had decided to go with a different vendor who was “willing to work with her budget.” I was left feeling slightly irritated {now I’m stuck with orange ribbon no other bride will possibly want} and wondering what I had done wrong. She had never mentioned "her budget" and seemed alright with the deal I'd presented. A ten percent discount on a handmade item that normally sells for an already low price seemed adequate to me. Maybe it’s not?

I would like to work out the kinks in my “discount for bulk orders” process so I don’t lose out on sales or get stuck with more unwanted ribbon in the future. Do any of you have suggestions? Should I have offered her a higher discount? Asked what her garter budget was when I got her initial request? HELP!


mrssoup said...

Okay, that bride was obviously not thinking. Or in fact, she was....and didn't care to share.

She should have discussed the budget with you initially. But also, before you purchased any additional items, you should have done your contract of sorts. Whether taking a partial payment or full.

Especially with handmade items for weddings....if something were to happen and the wedding was called off, you would be out the items made for the garters.

And a bulk discount is kind of silly, especially since your prices are VERY reasonable!

People are special. :( And Brides are the worst.

Kristina P. said...

That is a very reasonable price. I assume that you combine shipping anyway.

Xazmin said...

This is so hard. I too make and sell hand made items, and I've had people comment that they're expensive sometimes at craft shows.

I feel like we price our items a)competitively, and b) just to where we feel that it is worth our time.

We put A LOT of time into making our products, and it's frustrating that people can't appreciate that.

I don't know what advice to give, because only you know what your time is worth to you.

Good luck!

Oh, what kind of orange ribbon is it...maybe I can take it off your hands so you're not out the price? Depending on what it is and what you paid.

Vivienne said...

You absolutely should require a deposit before you even lift a finger to make these one of a kind pieces.

If you were hand-making shoes you wouldn't consider 2 shoes as qualifying for a "bulk discount" If you really get pressure to offer a discount, then state that brides have to buy, say, six or more, then say you could take 10% off or something.

Don't apologize for your pricing. Don't discount your own worth. There is negotiating for a fair price, then there is trying to screw the artisan.

This bride's wedding colors are red, orange, lime green, and purple????!!!! If it's any consolation, those crazy kids don't stand a chance!

Kasey said...

I stay at home with my kiddos now but before that I did hair. I hated, let me repeat, hated dealing with brides! All of my worst experiences working doing hair are with brides (or prom hair which I put in the same category!). I hate that you got stuck with that extra stuff! Her loss I say!