Fitting it all in

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Having my shop on vacation has been kind of nice, life feels slightly less hectic.  I might extend it one more week so I can breathe, then go back to craziness again.  The thing that I find most challenging about running a business is being pulled in several directions at once.  I feel like I am at my best when I can focus on one thing.  I guess it's a matter of learning how to filter out the noise, and focus on what is important.  It's really challenging  but I am getting there.  It's hard to believe I've been going at this full time since November... maybe it's hard to believe because I've still been going to "work" two days a week? :)

I am really excited at the thought of expanding my business.  My best friend, Abbey is coming up from Toronto for the day tomorrow to help me out.  I have a list of things for her to do, and it will give me a good idea of what kind of position I am in to hire an assistant.

Part of the struggle I have with hiring an assistant is financial.  While my prices aren't as inexpensive as La Senza or Aerie, they aren't La Perla ether! It has always been important for me to keep my line accessibly priced.  However, it is a lot of work per garment, and I'm not sure I've really priced accordingly.  I don't want to raise my prices, but I don't want to have a 10 week wait time on a pair of panties either.  But, if I hire someone to help reduce my wait time, I might have to raise prices.

Pricing is such a hard thing for me.  Its probably the thing I dislike the most about running a business, is anything to do with money. Having never really had much money myself, it can be hard justifying charging $50 for a pair of knickers.  Especially when it's something I do myself... I always undervalue my work, I think a lot of artists/artisans/creators/seamstresses do.  At the same time, I want people to be able to enjoy my work so I don't want it to be inaccessibly priced.  Annnnnd, at the same time, I want to make a decent living and have a good work / life balance, just like everyone else. So, it's a challenge!

Though, maybe I'm over-analyzing everything.  I don't know if you've noticed, but I do that.  I hardly get complaints from my customers about the wait time.  Most people are understanding, and I am clear about it in my shop policies, listings, and receipt.   What I do need to do is relax... and not rush, take my time, it will all get done... Eventually.

So, it's a tough call.  I think once I get ahead again, I will feel more confident about whatever decision I make.  I am actively looking into garment producers in my area, and have found a few who sound promising.  I think as a long-term plan, it really makes sense.

In other news, I've heard that Google Reader is going to be no more.  You can continue to follow my blog and other blogs you love through Blog Lovin. Follow my blog with Bloglovin


  1. I think as for the bras you keep your prices well. The panties seem to cost a bit low as for your level of experience and brand strength. But 5-10% increase will not make your prices look high anyway. In my opinion in order to find a balance it is better to be focused on your best-selling items, to make your prices higher and to keep working alone.

    1. Thank you so much for your input! I really appreciate that :)

  2. I think you have to charge what it actually costs to make something and keep your business viable. Don't undersell yourself. Those who expect to pay $3 a pair aren't going to be buying your's at it's current price anyway and they aren't your target customer. I definitely think artists and makers have a tendency to undersell their creations. It sounds like without an assistant you can't really keep your business going anyway.

  3. Hi Sarah,

    I think the most important thing is that you be kind to yourself. Be a good boss to yourself and decide what is right for you.

    People understand that when they buy a bespoke product there is a premium price because you're getting what you paid for-a unique product, quality and ethical production.
    You said it yourself most of your customers are very understanding.

    You should price your product in a way that will sustain you and your business. It shouldn't be about driving prices down because that's when it becomes less of a joy for you to share your product.

    You've probably already come across this article from Etsy, but just in case you haven't take a look.

    I hope you don't mind me saying all this. I'm most certainly no expert. But I think it's important that you don't stress yourself out.

    Good luck and look forward to see how you move forward,


  4. I've been through this myself & alongside a couple of different designers who I used to sew for; I chose to keep it individual, they both opted for the factory-made option. While neither is wrong, I think you have to be aware that if yo go for the mass-produced option, it does change the whole character of your business.
    For the record, I'm still enjoying the variety of my work although the profit margins are variable, Beatrice has become an expensive niche producer, while Jane lost all interest in her business & closed it.

  5. Good luck figuring this out! I would love to see you expand your business, including taking on other employees. I think it would be great to expand to the degree that is consistent with your expected quality and lifestyle. And like others have said, don't undersell yourself!

  6. I just found you. I don't know your prices because your shop is on vacation. but i do run an etsy business that supports my life (husband, daughter & me) completely. And i can say, with out a doubt - raise your prices. Don't worry.

    Yes, you may loose some customers, but most likely not. if they do choose not to buy that's ok, because you are making enough money per piece to not worry about it. People who buy from you aren't price shopping. if they were they'd go by a 10 pack of underwear. also, if you can hire the assistant. It may cost you, but you will be able to increase your productivity and that will more than compensate for the assistant's cost. I know this because we had to hire one, and then a second. SO i totally understand. But really, congrats for building a business that is growing so much that you have these issues.

  7. Women often undervalue their skills and abilities, but you need to remember you are a skilled seamstress and designer and pay yourself accordingly! Instead of thinking about what you would pay yourself, think about what you would pay somebody else to do this work. What would you pay an experienced seamstress in order for her to make a living wage? What would you pay for a designer in order for her to make a living wage? What would you pay an office executive who deals with all of the paperwork--ordering, billing, shipping, etc. Then, make sure you are paying yourself accordingly!

    People who buy handmade garments aren't expecting to pay rock-bottom prices for them. They buy handmade garments because they are looking for something that is unique or because they want to know that their clothing is responsibly made or they really want to support small businesses and craftspeople. They know this means that the clothes they buy will cost more.


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