I therefore made a decision to gradually set my prices more realistically for the work and costs each piece represents and the average unit price has no doubt crept up in recent months.
Two of my new 'Credit Cruncher' range of less expensive pieces - handmade glass bead pendants, topped with molten copper buds and a double wrapped antiqued copper bail.But I'm also acutely aware that money is tight for all of us. Many of my best and long-time customers have lost jobs, had hours reduced or have other financial pressures on their household, as we all do.
A customer commented the other day that she'd love to buy a particular piece but just couldn't justify the expense at the current time, so this set me thinking about making a range of lower priced items to address this issue.
This is a new piece I will be adding for sale shortly - antiqued copper necklace with matching earrings, wire wrapped with a line of freely moving blue green Chrysocolla dangles - but it was quite labour intensive and this will be reflected in the price.
This is my Credit Cruncher variant of the same design idea. There are fewer processes, less expensive materials and this will allow me to keep the price lower to customers.
I saw a TV programme many years ago which was a fascinating insight into how a design is developed for the high street. It started with an original blouse design - a little summer short sleeved blouse with embroidery on the pocket flaps and lots of interesting stitched details and pretty buttons.
One of my new simplified designs to keep the price down. These glossy scarlet glass beads are so striking that they don't need anything else.
They set about cutting a pattern, working out the stages and costing the materials. They made up the garment and timed the processes and came up with a cost to make it and how much it would need to retail for to be profitable - a task that many of us must be all too familiar with. The resulting retail price was far too high to be competitive, so they set about modifying the design, process by process, detail by detail until the price to make it was in-line with other high street fashion chains and what the market could stand. Every row of stitching had a cost implication and even the direction it was sewn and the order it was assembled had cost implications.
I have quite a lot of my own polymer clay pieces that I'm putting together for the Credit Cruncher range. I sold several necklaces with these heart pendants on and thought they were all gone and I found one I'd seemingly squirreled away.
They replaced the original breast pocket which had a separate flap over fastened down with a pretty button and embroidered flower to a single piece pocket with a top stitched detail to look like a flap and a less expensive decorative and non-functional flower button sewn directly onto the pocket - they eliminated several stages and a chunk of saving in the materials too. This process was repeated with the front placket, collar, shaped hem and sleeve. Even the separate body panels that gave it the fitted shape were eliminated for shaped darts and the 7 buttons of the original shirt were whittled down to 5.
The finished high street version was superficially very similar, but a much trimmed down process, halving the manufacturing cost and bringing the retail price in-line with customer expectations and making it profitable to sell.
I have a lot of accumulated semi-precious beads and used to sell a lot of these simple silver plated wire wrapped bracelets and someone asked me recently why I no longer made them, so I'll be adding a few more back to the shop. This one is black spider web jasper.
So I've applied this thinking to some of my own designs this week - looking at elements that customers like and are familiar in my work, but trying to streamline the processes to be able to offer a range of pieces at lower price points - I'm calling this range my Credit Crunchers.
It's early in the process yet, but I already feel pretty good that this is something worth doing - none of us have any money and whilst I'm still keen to stretch my ability and make progressively sophisticated work - I think there's still a place for pieces that I can make more quickly by streamlining the amount of processes and in using more modestly priced materials.
I don't aim to compromise my work or customer service ethic in any manner, but there are other ways in which I can make savings for the customers.