Knowing Your Worth.

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Hello Thursday Crafthackers.

I do a great many things with my time, and realistically work a variety of very part time jobs so that I can be social while making my own business work from home. Just yesterday I had a conversation with someone very close to me that inspired me to write a post about it, since I can’t imagine that I’m the only one who has ever had to have this type of conversation. I was talking about some private tutoring I was doing and about how much I was charging.  I told them the amount I decided to charge (since some of my costs were cut down from being able to do this from home), but I also told them the amount I should be charging for my time.

The reaction to this number was that I should not think so much of my skills to overshadow what people are willing to pay. Basically a “don’t be too big for your britches” scenario. I had to sit for a moment and think – was I really charging too much? Was the average price that I was quoting far more than anyone would realistically pay for my time? There’s a lot of ways to look at this, but perspective aside, it’s a strange thing for someone to tell you that your skills are not worth what you think they are. But the real question is this: Is that person right?

In my case, I had done a whole lot of research to come up with the price that I did, comparing education, types of degrees, methods of teaching, subjects taught and experience teaching within the field. All of this had pointed to my pricing being right, and this is what I explained to them. After I had a chance to mull over this conversation it got me to thinking that I suspect there are a lot of makers who get the same kind of feedback about their pricing or their time. And I suspect, like me, it is from people that we care about and are close to.

So, how do you find balanced pricing and how do you know how much your time is actually worth? Well. There aren’t necessarily hard and fast rules for this as if you have tried to sell your hand made item, it is a balance between what you are worth and what people are willing to spend. That being said, you can’t just throw a price that looks good on your work and your time and call it a day. One of the best things you can do is research your competition, both machine made and hand made. What are other people charging for something similar to what you’re doing? Are there differences in yours that will influence how much time you put into them? Are there things that you do that makes your product better or stronger?

When you have a good idea of what’s out there, you can reasonably look at what you’re doing and see if you’re charging what you should be. As I mentioned above, though, it’s not just what you produce that you need to think about, it’s your history and your quality. It’s your experience and your expertise. If you have a decade of crochet under your belt and you’ve been making and selling baby blankets at $50 dollars each, you are probably underselling both yourself and your product, charging barely enough to cover materials.  Where it may not be feasible to charge for every hour you put into your work -I know, it’s sometimes a hard balance between price resistance and fair pricing, you absolutely should be charging for your labour.

When you run into this problem, and you will at some point, know your market and know what ‘s out there already. Know how much time you put into your products and know what your experience means to your project. You shouldn’t have to justify the cost of your time so much as just explain why your time is as valuable as it is. Being confident in yourself and your value is one of the hardest things to do but is also an extremely important one. You will often find, as people learn about hand made and the specifics of the crafts they’re interested in, that there are many people out there who will pay market value or even a little bit extra for expertise, high quality craftmanship and for your hard work.

I think in the hand made market, many of us don’t charge what we should. It took me a long time to wrap my head around my time being valuable and charging for it. Those who I’m close to don’t always agree with what I charge, but ultimately, if they don’t understand the time and the skill that it takes to do what you’re doing, then they won’t understand why you’re charging what you are. So whether it’s a friend, a parent or a customer who makes a comment about your pricing, you should know why your prices are where they are. Though you are an artist, that does not mean that you will work for exposure or that your work is just something that you enjoy doing, and so shouldn’t charge for. Not only will this give you confidence in dealing with naysayers, but it will just help to make you more self assured about your work. After all, you’re a highly skilled individual, why shouldn’t you be paid a decent wage for your time like everyone else?

 

Happy crafting!

~Megan


Finding Your Muse Again.

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Hello Thursday readers!

As the holidays have now finished up and we’re all starting to get back to normal life, have you found that you might feel like you’ve lost some inspiration? That you are running on empty from the cons, shows and sales that may have fueled your small making business through the summer? You aren’t alone. Whether you’re working full time for yourself or you’re working for someone else while you explore your artistic endeavours either through crafting or through a part time business, the time after the holidays can be a hard place to find your inspiration again when all you want to do is sleep and recover and possibly just hibernate for a couple more months under a blanket.

Courtesy of Deposit Photos

I find myself struggling with this every year, between the lower energy of the wintery, sunless months and the come down from the chaos of holiday work and commissions, I know that all I want to do is play video games till spring. Is it healthy? Probably not, and so we have to find ways to get the creative juices running again and getting back into the healthy habits we adopt during convention season. What’s the first step I recommend? Give yourself some time to breathe. With everything being so hectic, how can you feel ready to dive back into your art before taking a little time to actually leave the holiday rush behind? Take a  week or two if you can, to do things for yourself and to let yourself relax without obligation.

Courtesy of Shutterstock

Courtesy of Shutterstock

Next, it’s finding that motivation to start working again, and being consistent about it. For me, I need to ease myself back into things. If I start going full throttle ahead, I burn out pretty quickly after giving so much of my time and energy to others. My personal recommendation is to set small, achievable goals that get bigger each day you work or with each project you do. Meeting these goals will help you to feel that sense of accomplishment that helps to drive and build your internal motivation. Without that internal motivation, you won’t find that you are enjoying what you’re creating and  your quality won’t be as high.

 

I think my last big hurdle at this time of year, comes when I realize I don’t have any conventions that are coming up until the late spring or summer, depending on your schedule and how often you sell.  It can be hard to build stock for something that seems so far away, especially if you don’t have commissions to keep you busy. For this, I recommend something that might sound counter intuitive, but here it goes. If you’re able, do something you enjoy while you work. I listen to audio books, podcasts, I watch tv shows and movies. I might not work quite as hard and fast as I do without these things, but it keeps me in my work room getting things done, and I don’t feel like I’m locked away, working for nothing. As soon as I feel like that, my work quality goes downhill and my motivation is shot.

I hope that these tips were helpful and I hope that it helps to know that you’re not alone in feeling like this, and that the solution isn’t necessarily to just suck it up and get back to it (though that might work for some people). These are some of the things that work for me and I hope that they work for you too.

Happy Crafting!

~Megan


Keeping Those Resolutions

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happynewyear

Happy Sunday and a very happy new year to you all! Last year definitely had it’s ups and downs but I do hope that your own ups outnumbered the downs. I, like a good majority of people, tend to make some kind of new year resolution that I totally intend to keep and then end up getting sidetracked/give up on/push until next year for any number of reasons. The biggest roadblock to keeping mine usually stems from one of my greatest aspirations and biggest adversaries: organization. I love the idea of organization but execution always seems to fall short of my expectations. Like I am just going to magically become this domestic organization goddess that knows exactly what I am doing with my life because I finally got all of my yarn out of the plastic bins overtaking the office and into cube baskets on shelves.

Uh huh, sure. I've heard that one before.

Uh huh, sure. I’ve heard that one before.

Let’s be honest here, one of the big reasons I am obsessed with Pinterest is because it gives me all of these innovative ideas for de-cluttering my home by going to the dollar store/covering this cardboard box in washi tape/building new storage out of toilet paper tubes but I can count on one hand the number of these solutions I’ve actually attempted. Organization is also my foe in other parts of my life…I adore planners. Back when I was a wee student and discovered the themed student planners, part of my prep for the year was always picking out just the right one. I very much enjoyed filling out assignments, important dates, and social events. I also love the idea of journals, as my untouched but pretty journal collection can attest to but I never seem to be able to keep up with it. Add into that my accomplishments as a list maker and you have my ultimate organization conundrum. Is there something that exists that can help me keep better track of everything while still letting me following my meandering route and also act as a creative outlet? Turns out there is.

bulletjournalven

Enter, the bullet journal. One of my very good friends (who may be picking up some blogging duties here – yay!) introduced me to this concept at the end of last year and I had yet to investigate it thoroughly. WARNING: a search may suck hours of your life away if you are not prepared for the black hole that is “bullet journal ideas”, not that I know from experience or anything. So what is a bullet journal, exactly? Well, this world being what it is, of course someone actually gave the concept a title and bought the domain name so you can go to the official Bullet Journal Website for a description or this article from Buzzfeed gives a pretty good background but I think I truly got interested because of this article on The Lazy Genius Collective. Not only do they keep it real, they are wonderfully witty as they go about describing what the basic pieces *usually* consist of.

This is cute and all but I have waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too many books on both of those lists to ever set it up this way.

This is cute and all but I have waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too many books on both of those lists to ever set it up this way.

The important point that I’ve gotten from the articles is that this is not something you should feel pressured to keep precisely organized. All of the pieces are your pieces and they should be done in a way most effective to YOU. It is part planner, part to-do list, part diary, and part whatever else you need. It definitely does not need to be the most beautiful thing you have ever produced and I would caution you to not be intimidated by all of the cute doodles or calligraphy level entries you may find in an initial search. One of the biggest parts of making this useful, however, is the index page. This is your guide to your bullet journal that will tell you where to find all of those different thoughts, lists, and dates. Along with “signifiers” which are like your own secret code of symbols for giving quick look assignments to tasks or notes, this truly seems like something that I would not only keep up with but may also enjoy. If anything I have described above resonates with you at all, I do highly recommend checking out this lovely madness I am about to plunge headlong into. On that note, we have MAGfest coming up this week and I have to make my packing list! Have a fantastic week, all!

Stay crafty!

~Laura

 


Self Employment, the Holidays, and Relaxation

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Hello Thursday Readers!

Like Beauty and the Beast, self employment and the holidays have a very complicated relationship. This is often a time of money making, but it is also a time of family. If you’re like me, then even when you have done a lot of what you need to, you still feel guilty taking time away from your work over the holidays. Add in lack of sleep, travelling, trying to find time and money to get all the gifts that you need to, sleeping in beds that aren’t your own, and the general blahs that can sometimes come by virtue of the lack of sunlight, or the holiday season in general, and you can have a pretty rough time without realizing.

Image from Dreamstime

So I wanted to take a post to remind all of you how important it is to make sure that you give yourself a break over the holidays. If you have orders, if you can get them done before hand, do. But, make sure to check with clients when they need things as you might find that some aren’t on a timeline and may be more understanding with the time restrictions during this time of year. Knowing that your client is flexible can take a huge load off, and keeping them in the loop about your schedule will help to keep you from feeling guilty about it. Remember, that even though you might not be able to take a full vacation, giving yourself a vacation from obligation for a couple days is super healthy and really needed around this time of year.

To that token… here are a couple DIY relaxation remedies that will help. Spirit Sister gives you three recipes for cosmetic pick me ups that will help relieve your winter stresses, all while doing it on the cheap. Check out her moisturizing avocado face mask and her sugar lip scrub to help relieve some of the physical symptoms of winter. Taking care of your body when the weather is out to get you is a good step to taking care of the self.

 

Also a must to check out is The Plant Strong Vegan who gives recipes for four steps to self love that are especially important at this time of year. Please check some of these out as there are some great recipes linked into her page and some good ideas for taking a load off after going through one of the most stressful (though fun) seasons.

Your crafting business is only as healthy as you are, both in mind and body. So be kind to yourself, and remember that you absolutely deserve some time to replenish your energy and gather yourself for the coming year.

Happy Crafting!

~Megan


Entrepreneurship, Emotions and the Hard Con Life.

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Hello Thursday Readers,

As many of you have read, I’ve done a lot of work writing about the various trials and tribulations of running a small business (especially a maker’s business), talking about the different strategies I use to keep on top of things. Today, however, as we start pulling towards winter and getting into seasons of high demand, and going towards a show myself, I’m reminded of how much stress there can be in vending at any show, and some things to keep in mind if this is the route you’re looking to take.

courtesy of Fanexpocanada.com

Let me preface by saying that conventions -large or small -are a wonderful way to network, introduce yourself into new markets, and make some money with a relatively low overhead cost. I love my conventions, and I look forward to them throughout the year, not only because they’re a lot of fun and almost like a family reunion with all the returning vendors, but the attendees are fabulous and creative types that like to engage, ask questions and get to know you as a maker and as a vendor.

There is a reason, however, that workers and I joke about the “hard con life.”  Make no mistake, I have fabulous times at most of my conventions, but the time leading up to them, even if you’re well prepared, is a stressful road. I notice my stress levels kick up about 3 weeks to a month before any convention starts up, and there can potentially be a lot of fallout from that stress.  The first piece of advice I have for you – and I find it hard to take, myself – is to be kind to yourself. You’re worrying and working hard to make this show a success, and it becomes very easy to beat yourself up about any little thing you forget or any little mistake you make. Giving yourself a break and treating yourself well will help to keep those stress levels at bay (or at least manageable) and keep you from transferring that stress to those around you.

Something else to keep in mind, is that you will often not feel as prepared as you would like to – ESPECIALLY if you are a maker. Making takes up a lot of time and skill, and no matter how fast and how hard I work, I sometimes feel I’m understocked for a show. Remember, that this can happen, and it’s at this point where you need to have a backup plan for how you will sell without as much product there – whether it be through photos to get those at show orders, having a backup plan will help you to keep yourself motivated to keep making rather than experiencing paralysis from being overwhelmed.

Have checklists for everything. Have a list of supplies you need to order, of what stock you’d like to be floating, of what you want to bring to your convention, of the people you need to contact, even the administrative tasks that need doing. It’s easy – especially when you’re stressed – to freak out over all the things that need doing. Having lists that you can cross off and lists for what you don’t want to forget will let your mind let go of that part of the worry, since you know you are prepared. Not only that, checking something off your list (even if it’s as small as printing invoices or replying to an email) will remind you that those small tasks are still work that you’re doing and is progress towards your greater goal.

Lastly, plan your meals for the convention. Eating well will keep you from getting hangry, and it will keep you energized and feeling good. Eating junk will leave you feeling lethargic and bloated and when you’re planning on working a show for a weekend, you need all you can to keep your energy up. So go shopping, prep your meals – including snacks – the day before, buy some big bottles of water and energy bars. Remember to take breaks to eat, even if you don’t think you’re hungry. Believe me, there’s nothing worse than discovering you’ve become a horrible person because you need to have a sandwich.

Good luck!

Happy crafting!

~Megan


Making Peace with Competition

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Good morning, Saturday people!

Switching it up for Toni who is working hard down at New York Comicon, I come to you bearing some advice on a topic that I’ve felt many different ways about through the years, and watched myself have all kinds of reactions to (some which were even surprising to me). Competition. That’s right, we are going to talk about competitors, and if you’re making wares that you’re selling, I suspect you’ve already encountered this and probably also have strong feelings about it, or maybe you’re still not sure how you want to feel about it.

 

So here we go. We’ve all heard that a little competition is a healthy thing, and I fully believe that’s true. Knowing that there are other people out there doing something the same or similar to what you’re doing can have many different effects and one of them is to drive you to make your product better, of a higher quality, of a different focus. It forces you to look at your product – whatever it is – and makes you try to find a way to set you apart from those who are doing something similar. This is fantastic in that it creates innovation within your making.

But that’s the easy part of dealing with the competition. It gets more difficult when you can see negative impacts on your business and when you have to deal with competition right in your back yard – or across the dealer’s room, if you’re vending at a convention or marketplace. So. You’ve found someone who make something similar to you, or possibly the same. Now what? Do you scope out their wares to figure out if they are better than you? Absolutely you should. If someone is doing something better, you need to know what it is, and if you’re a cut above, you need to see what you must do to stay in that position.  Now… does that mean you need to hate this person with the passion of a thousand firey burning suns?  Not necessarily. After all, they’re doing just the same thing you are – trying to make money in making something they love.

From Gify

And who can fault them that? I certainly can’t. So, you’ve found your competition, you’ve scoped them out online, in person, and perhaps even bought something to see how it holds up. Eventually, you will need to come face to face with this person, and talk to them. This can be especially hard if they are making what you are making, and not just something similar or a different product with the same technique. First thing’s first… suck it up, buttercup. I mean it. You can’t judge a person without meeting them first, so give them a chance to impress you with their stunning personality. There’s several very good business reasons to do this, though it may not be obvious at first.

The first reason is knowledge. This person has a wealth of knowledge that comes from different backgrounds as yours, and this could mean a whole lot of good things for you, but remember, information like this will only be offered if they trust you and don’t feel that your business is a threat to theirs. There’s a lot of money floating around the world, and lots in every industry. There’s plenty to go around, and remember, customers like to taste the rainbow of people who make the things that they like. I have many clients who cross over with a number of other people making the same item, and you can’t let that get to you. In fact, if you’re sour about it, your clients will pick up on it. So go and talk to your competitor, even if it makes your insides clench, and see if you can make a business associate out of them.

These new business associate friends (AKA competitors) may be willing to share with you the various marketplaces they sell at, if you ask them, and if you genuinely care about how well they do, they may even share some of their more successful ones with you. Not only that, if you do work some of the same selling shows, you can share war stories, success stories, and stories of sadness and moneylessness.  This is invaluable information as you’re getting the story of someone’s experience that you don’t have to pay for to find out. They have paid their entry fees to learn, and if you’re wise and kind and caring, you can ask them to share it with you.

from Alamy.com

from Alamy.com

Your not so competitive competitors may also share some supplier/supply information with you. I don’t know how many times I’ve talked with competitors about where they source their supplies, not only to see that I am getting the best deal around but for another, broader idea. If my competitors have good quality materials, then they will drive up the price of the market for the product, due to the quality. This is a Very Good Thing. Think of it this way, someone can be a brilliant maker, but if they’re using terrible supplies or materials and charging just as much as someone else with a higher quality supplier, then they are dragging down your value. This doesn’t just effect you, it effects all of the people who do what you do. You want people to be willing to pay premium dollar for your product and hard work, but that doesn’t depend solely on your quality. Where suppliers are often a well kept trade secret, they are also one that should be considered a commodity to help all of the makers add value to their work and let the customers decide between the skill of the maker.

Your friendly competition (who was once your deadly nemesis), can provide you with even further insight and information. Generally speaking, no two makers are alike. We all develop our own techniques, styles and selling philosophies that make us unique and desirable. When you become able to see yourselves as different enough that you can see that though you may share customers but your targets are actually quite different, it makes you more liken to co-workers and associates. More like a part of a secret society, than competition. If you’re able to develop a relationship like this, it can bear even more fruit, and that isn’t just easing your mind when you see them. Think about being able to talk shop with someone. Being able to talk about your process and being able to get feedback on the difficult things that you deal with and finding out other solutions. Think about sharing your struggles and your victories and finding out that other people have the same problems (possibly even with the same clients). Think about talking about how to resolve issues, work through a problem in your construction process, or even someone to call if you’re in a tight spot and need access to a special tool that only someone in your trade may have. You might find that you now have someone who understands all the things that you struggle with, and who might be able to provide insight, solutions and if you ask really nicely… they might even offer to help.

Courtesy of timeoutabudhabi.com

I hope that these insights have helped you to look at your competitors a little bit differently. Entrepreneurs need to help each other out to a point, but it’s so easy to stare across a selling floor and judge others (or yourself) too harshly. Remember that you are more similar than you are different, and learning to embrace that will help to ease some of the pressures that you might think are unavoidable. So, put on your big person pants and go over and talk to your competition. Find out if they really are as evil as you think they are, then you know whether or not they are actually a nemesis or a fighter who is in the same corner as you.

Happy Crafting!!

~ Megan


SpokenWord SpiderWeb 2.0

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I’m honored to meet you, the CraftHack community as a guest blogger. Any and all mistakes are all my own, and I own up to them.

Yes, I know-Craft Hacker, not CraftHack is what mere mortals call this page. Please don’t be mad that I have the audacity to be myself and get comfy, call you by a nickname and share my story.

 

one-needle-003 img_8309

 

My dream is to tell stories, to connect. I do this in fibers, in fables and words, with grace, hope and joy.

Weaving my stories, connecting unexpected. The fringe, the fray–these seemingly useless disconnected bits.  From the chaotic corner of my memory, hard edges of science, math melt into art that is engineering and problem solving–soon these fables and fabric find a secure doorframe and take hold.

click to read and hear the rest of Spiderweb 2.0

http://funfromatoz.com/2016/07/30/spiderweb2-0/

img_5064 img_7812

Be You and Be Awesome!

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Hey Hey, I’m just a substitute blogger. Hope that I made you smile. There isn’t time in one post to get to know someone, but how did I do? Do I seem like a fun person that you’d like to get to know? My FUNfromAtoZ assistant says this is an opportunity to promote myself and where you can find me, but nope-I won’t. Okay, okay! In a secret way I did.


Con Survival Part 4: Etiquette

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Hello Sunday readers!

Sorry for the delay in the last post of the series but the convention was a resounding success which means I couldn’t sneak a post in! It’s been a fun journey these passed few weeks talking about convention survival but all fun things eventually come to an end. So the last thing, something near and dear to my heart, I’d like to put out there is all about how to act at a convention so that you are not “that person”. So I give you my personal set of convention etiquette techniques!

ConSurvival4Etiquette

  1. Don’t be the Labyrinth junk lady! Seriously, remember that talk we had a couple of weeks back about bringing everything including the kitchen sink? That person’s bag not only knocks uncounted merchandise off of displays, it also makes it very difficult to move through the ocean of people. It’s not just about your discomfort but those around you. Knocking people off of their feet as you turn around to snap a pic of that amazing cosplay will definitely not make you any friends. Less is more! If you do absolutely have to carry all of your DM supplies, just remember that you need extra space behind you.
  2. Be aware of your surroundings. Following on the heels of the first point, not doing this second one will definitely not endear you to your fellow con-goers.
    • When shopping, you may get distracted by the SHINY THING. Please please please do not stop in the middle of the aisle to stare at the SHINY THING. Be kind to those other folks that are trying to get from one side of the hall to the other for their photo-op/autograph/panel/emergency potty break by moving closer to the booth or slightly off to the side.
    • When cosplaying, you are going to get a lot of attention. Besides being careful not to smack everyone in the face with your amazing wings/cape/tentacles, you may interrupt the flow of traffic every time someone asks for a photo-op. While I agree that it is totally cool and kind to give these folks their chance, you can help everyone involved if you can direct the would-be fan to a less crowded area for a quick pic.
    • When taking pics of awesome cosplay, please also refer to the above. There is a natural flow to traffic in an enclosed space and stopping in the middle of it will definitely ensure an occasional pile-up. When stopping a costumed person for a snap, also see if you can direct them to a less populated area so that others may get to their destinations.
    • When checking your phone for messages, make sure to look up once in a while! It’s inevitable in this day and age that you will be walking and using your phone, possibly to locate your con-group (or possibly in your hunt for a certain pocket monster). That’s fine as long as you are talented enough to do both at the same time. If not, perhaps stepping off to the side until you finish communicating would be best.
  3. Remember that celebrities are people, too. I can totally relate to the feeling of complete awe when meeting someone you’ve admired for a long time. But please remember that they are people with feelings and a life outside of the fandom they represent. They are not necessarily the characters they portray and while you may have paid for the privilege of meeting them, it is a terrible thing to treat them like an object. Also recall that those hundreds of other folks standing in line behind you would like their 5 seconds with said celebrity as well.
  4. Wash thyself. I know that most convention suggestion articles joke about this point but let’s get serious here. Whether you came to this convention to game, meet people (celebrities included), purchase neat things, or just soak up the geekiness, you should not neglect self care. This includes hygiene. Even if you can’t squeak out a quick, awkward “hi” to that celebrity you’ve always wanted to meet, you definitely don’t want to be the number one nose offender that day, either. Even if this is accomplished with baby wipes and Febreeze, it is certainly better than the alternative (I unfortunately know folks that use this technique regularly).
  5. Support your favorite artists/vendors. This point will probably surprise exactly no one that regularly reads posts on Craft Hackers. We all appreciate your business! But please also remember that, especially for those artists that make everything with their own two hands, haggling over prices or looking for deals can be at the very least, mildly insulting. I completely understand if you’ve already gone through most of your con-budget because you had to have that special photo-op! Understand, though, that the crafters spending hours at their trade need to eat and pay their bills as well. The biggest thing many struggle with is remembering to pay themselves. That’s where you come in! Give them the very large compliment of paying for not only their product but the quality of their work. If you cannot immediately afford whatever lovely piece catches your eye, see if they have an on-line shop and then save your pennies for that beautiful gift to yourself. It’s worth it.
  6. Be courteous. Above all, I cannot emphasize this last point enough. You are in an enclosed space with hundreds, perhaps thousands of other humans that enjoy the same things that you do. The atmosphere can be exhilarating and exciting but it can also be overwhelming and chaotic. Being kind perhaps by holding a door, saying please or thank you, and stepping aside to let someone pass helps everyone by keeping that lovely flow going.

To close, a convention isn’t successful simply by bringing people together, it’s successful because people keep coming back to be together for that one purpose. The attendees are truly what make the experience unforgettable so why not make it the best one possible?

I do hope you’ve found these posts helpful. Next week, I promise we will go back to your regularly scheduled craftiness.

~Laura


Isn’t the Customer Always Right?

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Good morning, Thursday readers.

For those of you working to sell your crafty things, or for those of you thinking of selling your crafty things, I’ve been writing this series of support blogs to help out in the emotional journey and some of the different problems I’ve encountered and how I have handled them. This is an interesting one, especially when we’re taught from an early age and through movies that the customer is always right. Is that true? Yes. Except when they’re wrong. Then they’re not right, and you need to know where you draw the line so that you can stand up for yourself as a business, both small and/or handmade.

Customers will complain about all kinds of things ranging from price to size to fit to colour to just about anything that they can think of. One of the most common I hear are comments about price.  This is a hard one as pricing out product as a maker is different from pricing out product that is coming out of a machine.

 

Most of us have to undercut ourselves just a touch to stay competitive, but there’s no reason that you should be taking losses. This is one place where I find people just don’t seem to have a concept of the labour involved in making things. Often, your best defense, in this case, is education. Talk to your customers about how you make things, the time and the skill that it takes, what your experiences have taught you. This will often help them to understand your pricing strategy and if there’s still pushback after that, then they just don’t understand. Don’t feel the need to bargain with people just because they want to. Stand by your products and remember that your labour is worth fighting for.

 

It is things like this that we hear constantly that can throw doubt on our decisions. Similarly, you may at some point, have to deal with refunds and exchanges from people who are dissatisfied in some way with what they bought, regardless of if it is because of workmanship or simply just a change of mind. The best way to combat this, again, is education. Have a refund policy set out so that you have something to stick by. Don’t worry if you don’t want to accept refunds, there are many stores that do this. Just inform your customer of your expectations when they make the purchase, and have it written down on your website.

All this being said, customer service is one of the most important things that can absolutely make or break your business, but customer service doesn’t mean doing everything you can to ensure that the customer is happy with every aspect of what you’re selling. It means to treat your customers fairly and with respect, including when trying to resolve issues. Customer service is about helping them to find what they need and provide them happily with the service to get it. It doesn’t mean that they have the right to disrespect you or treat you unfairly. It doesn’t mean that they should be allowed to take advantage of you, and I find there’s a lot of people who forget that and make disrespectful demands of makers (and other businesses) because of it.

So what happens when a customer has a demand or is trying to negotiate a term that you feel is unfair? Just remember that you’re allowed to say no, and be fair to yourself. You have the authority. You’re the owner, aren’t you? It’s your responsibility to make sure that your customers are happy, but it is also your responsibility to make sure your employees (you) are treated fairly and with respect. I don’t know if you’ve noticed a theme, but respect and fairness is hard to argue with, from either side of the counter.

You’ve hacked your craft and now you’ve got the courage to hawk it. Stand up for it, and the work that you do.

 

~Megan


Cosplay: When they’re wearing your outfit

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I was on a podcast and got asked a question which was actually a fairly good one. While it isn’t very crafty related, I thought it would be something to address because it has been one of the reasons that I’ve stuck around in this hobby,

Cosplay- the only time when someone else showing up in the same outfit as you is awesome. Running into someone else who is wearing the same costume as me is one of my favourite things. As much as I love running into Captain America when I’m Peggy Carter or Maku when I’m Korra, I love running into people in the same outfit even more. Why is it awesome?

 

To start with, it likely means you have an instant friend. You know something they like (cause they’re advertising it by wearing it), and you probably like it already yourself. That awkward “I don’t know what to talk about” moment? Not an issue. Even if you don’t become best buddies, you can talk about the source material, the character, and why you chose to wear that costume. You might find a new perspective on something you already love.

Secondly, you can now swap horror stories. Trust me, you both have them. Making costumes is never as straight forward as it sounds, and you can bond over how georgette is the worst fabric to have to sew and you wish you’d never found that interview where it mentioned it was the fabric used in the on-screen version.

Maybe there are things about your costume that you want to improve. Maybe you will notice something they’ve done on their costume that you really like and wish you’d done and since they are right there, you can ask them. Most cosplayers are quite happy to talk about their process and how they went about things. This is the best time to ask these questions.

Lastly, what gets more attention than just being in costume? Being around someone else in a similar costume. Groups always attract a crowd if you and friends put together a cast group that is one of the best way to ensure photographers get your photo. But if you want to get noticed for lots of photos, hanging out with a fellow in the same costume is just as good. What’s better than one Wonder Woman? Three!

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I find that these friendship tips still work even if they’re not doing the exact same version of a costume as you are. So even when I’m not wearing my blue suit, I adore running into other Peggys, no matter what outfit they’re wearing. Its all about finding like-minded souls, and wearing a costume is the most obvious way to shout out you enjoy a fandom. Rather than fretting about your own costume or going into comparisons, enjoy the camaraderie and friendship that you can gain when you both choose the same costume.

~ eliste