Sunday, March 30, 2008

Cheap imports vs. Handcrafted

After reading this through please drop some feedback to the questions at the end of this post.

I decided to give this a try. Each day I am going to list one item at 1/2 price and change the item every day so that the item is on sale for one day only. I am hoping to encourage folks to stop by and see what is on sale for that day which will also keep people aware of what's new. The thing is that because of an agreement with the jewelry stores I deal with I have to list the retail price at my on line site. The crocheted items because I don't sell those to the jewelry store yet I can list at wholesale which I already do so those will not be included in the sales. For the bracelets like the one pictured I get on the average $25.00 and they take about an hour to do including stringing time. The basic bracelets are at $23.00 and they go up to $33.00 if they have some sort of spendy lampwork in them.
Some have asked me why I don't use commercial lampwork as my prices could be lower. I prefer to support other artisans knowing how difficult this market is with all the cheap imports available. Also, I want to give my clients the best product I can produce and something they are not going to see on anyone else at the next affair they attend. But it is difficult at best to compete with "made in..."Even on a very popular high end street in Boston the answer I got to most places I went is that they can get it imported a lot cheaper and still sell close to the same price and make 4-9 times their investment rather than just keystone. There are those out there who prefer better products such as the ones made by artisans here in the good old USA. It is just a matter of finding out how to get our goods out there to them. Jewelry is difficult to photograph well and pros cost over $100.00 per hour which at this point is too much for the likes of me! I sell very well when I can get it into the consumers hands, when they can see the quality of my work and materials I use. The jewelry store here in Waterville, Maine has purchased over $3500 from me since the middle of last October and she has sold all but a very few pieces so I know there are buyers out there for what I do. Generations Lampwork told me that she does not make much jewelry anymore because she has to compete with the cheap, mass manufactured imports. It really is a shame as she does exquisite work. I am sure the same is true with many in her field. Still, as I said there are those out there who would rather have something unique, original and handcrafted. Where are they and how do we show them our wares is the question. On line is good for some things but like I said getting good photos of jewelry is hard and it can be expensive.
I would like some feedback on these questions:
1. Would you rather have an item that was handcrafted and more unique or something less expensive that everyone can own?
2. For those who have purchased handcrafted jewelry online, what factors went into your decision to make the purchase on an item you have not actually held in your hand?

1 comment:

Kelly said...

Competition plays a huge factor in what we do. Not only overseas competition, but ther is competition with other jewelry designers online and in stores.
I know bead jewelry makers who actually buy pieces already made from over seas and piece them with just a chain and sell that, because it's cheaper than making the focal point themselves or beading a whole necklace or bracelet.
You have to keep doing what you are doing and remain focused on where you want to be, and you'll get there. Your work is beautiful.