Date   

Re: towels

Anne Niles Davenport
 

This is a great discussion!

I want to correct something, and clarify something.  I mis-stated the price on my "designer"  kitchen towels -- it's actually $62 (not $65).  I considered raising it to the higher amount for 2016, but couldn't bring myself to do it.

The towels themselves are good-sized -- usually 18 to 20 inches wide by 28 to 30 inches long -- and are real workhorses.  So far as I  know, everyone who has bought them uses them, and they use them a lot.  Not their servants, or their housekeepers.  Themselves.  I think there are some assumptions being made in this thread that might productively be examined regarding the usefulness of functional weaving that is both well-made and strikingly attractive.  Why shouldn't our kitchens be decorated with such objects that also serve as embellishment? 

I agree with those who point out that marketing is a task unto itself; I don't much enjoy it, but long ago made the decision that it was a required element of the vision I had (and still have) of how I wish to do my work and live my life.  Years of working at it in small bite-size chunks have paid off, and I do not envision that I'll ever be able to stop working at it.  Goes with the territory.


Anne Niles Davenport RainShadow Textiles Whidbey Island, Washington www.weavewright.com (360) 331-4212


Re: We're not charging enough...

Laura Fry Weaving Studio <laura@...>
 

I am finding this discussion quite interesting.

The marketplace is a spectrum. I don't even try to appeal to the highest end of it because I live in a small geographically remote town, far away from the 'monied' crowd. Neither do I attempt to appeal to the Walmart customer. As one person told me a number of years ago (in reference to place mats) 'when I'm worried about putting food on the plates I can't even think about something pretty to put under them.'

So I aim for the informed customer with disposable income who wants something different from what is on offer in the shops. My tea towels are larger than commercially made ones (apart from the very high end textiles), and feedback lets me know that those people who buy them are happy with them. I use cotton, linen, cottolin. I don't make textiles for the heirloom market but to be used and enjoyed every day. Customer feedback tells me my place mats wear well - perhaps too well. People have told me that their place mats, received as wedding gifts 25-30 years previously, still look like 'new'. (I'm sure they don't, but they are happy! And yes, I *have* been weaving that long - heading into my 41st year now - where *does* the time fly???)

A couple of years ago people started telling me my prices were too low, so last year I started increasing them, a little bit. Everything else had gone up, so why not my prices? I heard tell of someone in New York in the 1990's charging $100 per place mat. I don't know how many she sold, but if they looked like they were worth that and she could find clients, good for her.

I do not attempt to make my sole income from weaving. It is, however, a significant part of our family income. Since income from textile sales is cyclical, I still teach some, though recent health issues mean I have cut back on my travelling to teach. I am still writing, although right now I'm working on self-publishing again, not offering to magazines...

I am not very happy marketing. It is more of an extroverts job, I think, and I'm an introvert. I find it difficult to come up with the 'sizzle' and 'sell' myself (because that is what you have to do). I am not very happy trying to fight with the computer and as for designing a website? I'd rather be at the loom. So far I've not had much success marketing via the internet partly because of the above, but partly because textiles are, well, tactile, and it is really hard to get excellent photographs that convey the tactile sense of a textile well. Most people first buy my textiles (place mats, table runners, scarves, shawls) in person, then might buy based on emails/photographs. Or other weavers buy my stuff - which is a huge compliment. :) But who better to appreciate a hand woven textile than another weaver, right? :D

Prices will vary depending on the market - in 1999 I was selling at a show in the Pacific Northwest. My rayon chenille scarves were priced at $75 at the time, while I knew that the same product was being sold on the eastern seaboard for $125. A customer came in and moaned about my price being soooo high and when I told her that if she was on the east coast she'd be paying $125 she didn't even make a response, just grabbed the scarf she had been fondling for 5 minutes and took it to the cashier. So *she* knew she would be paying more elsewhere, too...

Sometimes you just have to stand firm and not be brow beaten by people looking for a bargain. And sometimes you just have to have the confidence in your product and prices to ask what you think your work is worth. If we don't value our work, why should anyone else?

I blog frequently and post pictures of my work if anyone is interested http://laurasloom.blogspot.com I also have a twice a year sales event, next one coming up in July via the blog


Re: We're not charging enough...

Cally Booker
 

The Scottish Artists Union calculate a 'suggested rate' for artists each year, and their model is based on a (pretty generous) allowance of 65% of an artist's time being spent actually producing work - making, teaching, writing - which will earn money, while 35% is allocated to other tasks such as management, research etc. If anyone is interested their latest rates can be found at http://www.sau.org.uk/rights/pay/. The difference between the hourly rate charged and the hourly rate actually earned is instructive!

And for those engaged in the challenges of marketing and pricing, I would recommend the Design Trust website (http://www.thedesigntrust.co.uk/)

Cally
in Dundee, Scotland

Not only money costs but cost in time. Time taken out of production.
Judy in Knife River


Hand woven towels

weaveworks2003@...
 

Hi folks,

I know I will never get rich weaving cotton dish/hand towels, but I do sell a couple hundred a year, and the plain ol' plain ol' white towels with a border at each end or stripes down the sides.are what sells the best.  My rag rugs also sell pretty good.  Sales of rugs goes up and down, but the towels are a pretty consistent sale.

Lynne 
www.weaveworks.com


Re: We're not charging enough

Louise K
 

1. Someone has said these are not well made. Could that please be explained?? How/why are they not well made?

2. What is a hamam towel?


Re: We're not charging enough...

Linda Davis <tomlin@...>
 

That’s true about interior designers. My sister is one, and while she doesn’t have clients that are multi-millionaires, she has run into that mentality of “just find me something unique”. At the same time, people with too much money don’t think twice about changing their color scheme every year and throwing out towels that may only been used a few times.

 

Linda


Re: We're not charging enough...

spor_ter
 

This has been a fascinating thread.  I think I felt a little of everything that everyone has posted on this topic.  What's especially interesting is that we are looking at a well marketed product, and for most of us, we like to weave but aren't always "professional" in our marketing.

A few years ago I saw the website of a weaver in Minnesota who was charging $80 for her handwoven linen hand-towels...woven with the hanging tab in the middle of the towel.  They were beautiful...they ARE beautiful...she is still selling, When I just checked her website, it seems she now she posts her price as "starting at $30".  I think that must be for her washcloths.  If you select a hand-dowel from the drop down menu, the price at the top of the page next to the picture changes.  Another marketing strategy?   Her business name is VAVA VEVE....vavaveve.com.  

I weave a lot of towels (cotton, my own hand-dyed cotton, cottolin (both the organic cottolin and the Swedish cotolin), hemp, and some linen.)  All my towels are hand hemmed. Unless the content is more than 50% linen or hemp, I sell them locally for $25 and online for $30 which includes shipping.  When I was selling in a local shop, the price was $29 (I got 60%).  You have to do production to make any money selling at those prices...and even then it's not minimum wage.  If you are paying other weavers to weave your designs, you have to charge enough to pay them, and pay for the professional marketing.

Susan



 




towels

Kathleen Stevens
 

Darlene has a point.  I learned early on that customers gladly pay more for a scarf to wear around their necks than some small item (towel?) for the kitchen.  Also, the weaver can easily advertise their woven works by wearing them.  A towel just doesn’t do it wrapped around a neck.  My specialties were rugs-----can’t very well walk around wearing one of those either.  That is why I had a separate studio and wove mainly for the interior design trade.  I did very well financially and finally retired after 45 years in the business. 

Perhaps we should all be happy for the weaver who does very well selling her towels and tapes at good cost----I certainly am happy for her.  Weaving is very labor intensive and expensive and even if you weave and sell some higher priced items, it doesn’t mean the total income is life supporting.  A few towels on her lovely web site sold----but how many will sell over the course of a year or two?  When I think of all the work involved with producing exceptional products, running a business, and being able to live off that income over the years----I’m totally amazed I had that energy.  

 I think it is even more difficult today due to higher costs in raw materials, transportation costs, and cost of living.  All the best to weavers out there who are making the business work.  I’m now retired and maybe, just maybe, I might weave a towel or two.

 

Kathleen in Indiana


Re: We're not charging enough

forrestwife
 

I do Creative Education(demoing/teaching), Social Media advertising and PR, and Design team management for Indie Woman owned businesses - mostly crafts products and artists, and  charge starting at $50 a month, depending on what they need- and I’m willing to teach myself out of a job, tho most are grateful I do what I do so they can be doing what they love to do.
I don’t like taking percentages, I do what I do and do it well, and that drives sales.


Re: We're not charging enough...

Sara von Tresckow
 

Marg,
You know, as do all here, that in today’s press world, such vulgar and aggressive presentations are the norm – that wasn’t meant for any one person – just an observation. I’ve run a successful business for 10 years now without needing to resort to those tactics, nor have I ever taken a business loan – the only grant was $200 toward a $400 plywood sign that still hangs over our door. I know that everyone says that this American style PR is necessary, but I think my example says it is not.
I was raised to not ask exorbitant money for shoddy work and to provide customers with a decent price/performance ratio.
Those “side costs” arguments, if not augmented by trying to produce economically, are just begging for people to pay for your time playing.
 
Sara von Tresckow, Fond du Lac, WI
sarav@...
Author of “When a Single Harness Simply Isn’t Enough”
http://www.woolgatherers.com Dutch Master Loom/Spinning Chairs/Öxabäck Looms, visit us in Fond du Lac or contact us about your weaving/spinning needs


Re: We're not charging enough...

Ian Bowers
 

Having watched, quietly, and appreciating that there are some who recognise that

A Production time and materials are only a proportion of the costs and need to be recovered (under-pricing is simply doing yourself and someone else out of a living)
B A towel sold to a towel user has one price and an art material sold to a collector has a very different one. The difference is in the design.

I want to note one other relevant factor: some time ago I realised that when we went to a show with our goods, then in the weeks beforehand sales fell off as customers realised they could buy from us at the show, meet us and save on shipping costs, then sales at the show were good. After the show sales fell off again for several weeks, since customers were stocked up, Overall our total sales were not improved in any way by the show, but we had serious costs from attending it; the net effect was a real loss not compensated for by meeting our customers; the internet did the job and was far better at it!

Best regards

Ian Bowers (Dr)
Managing Director

www.georgeweil.com<http://www.georgeweil.com/>
GEORGE WEIL & SONS LTD, Old Portsmouth Road, Peasmarsh, Guildford, Surrey, GU3 1LZ
tel: 0 (+44) 1483 565800
fax: 0 (+44) 1483 565807

George Weil & Sons is a limited company registered in England and Wales.
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From: WeaveTech@yahoogroups.com [mailto:WeaveTech@yahoogroups.com]
Sent: 31 May 2016 16:48
To: WeaveTech@yahoogroups.com
Subject: Re: [WeaveTech] Re: We're not charging enough...



On Tue, May 31, 2016 at 8:17 AM, Nancy Curtiss
ncurtiss@truthforlife.org<mailto:ncurtiss@truthforlife.org> [WeaveTech] <WeaveTech@yahoogroups.com<mailto:WeaveTech@yahoogroups.com>>
wrote:
I like that Tien reminds us to consider business costs. Rental of space/use of home business space, self-employment tax, sales tax, vendors licenses, health insurance, etc. will all take their toll in these areas. Plus multiply that if there are other people on the payroll. Plus payment to create and do marketing. Even if you do it yourself with flyers and business cards, these all cost something to print, and would normally be accounted for in the pricing of goods sold. At least that is what I read in all the books on the subject J
Yes - and there is a worksheet in my book (which just went to the
printers, hooray! and is now expected to launch in mid-July) to
calculate your actual hourly wage including all those factors. It's
based on Mea Rhee's Hourly Earnings Project, where she calculated what
she was earning as a potter over the course of an entire year's worth
of shows and wholesaling before deciding to close her graphic design
studio and focus on potterymaking full time. If you go to
http://www.goodelephant.com and look at the Hourly Earnings Project
category, it makes for very interesting reading. I interviewed her for
my book.

I'm watching this thread with interest - one of the things I am doing
is figuring out how to make an income now that I've decided to exit
high-tech. I'm currently working on a business around teaching design
and creative process strategies (i.e. subjects from the book), but
creating an online gallery marketing textiles (and possibly other
crafts) has been in the back of my mind as well.

Tien


Re: We're not charging enough...

Darlene Wainwright
 

I'm pretty well retired now but when I was weaving full time I made a simple decision to never weave tea towels and I never have. For about the same amount of time I could weave far more interesting scarves and fashion accessories that garnered me a whole lot more per inch than tea towels. I also woven fabric for garments and tailored them but a scarf or shawl doesn't require any more skills than a tea towel. 

People are much more willing to part with a larger bundle of cash for something they wear over something they hang in their kitchens. Decide what will give you the best return for your effort and open up your mind to expanding your weaving horizons.

Darlene 


Re: We're not charging enough...

Tien Chiu
 

On Tue, May 31, 2016 at 8:17 AM, Nancy Curtiss
ncurtiss@truthforlife.org [WeaveTech] <WeaveTech@yahoogroups.com>
wrote:
I like that Tien reminds us to consider business costs. Rental of space/use of home business space, self-employment tax, sales tax, vendors licenses, health insurance, etc. will all take their toll in these areas. Plus multiply that if there are other people on the payroll. Plus payment to create and do marketing. Even if you do it yourself with flyers and business cards, these all cost something to print, and would normally be accounted for in the pricing of goods sold. At least that is what I read in all the books on the subject J
Yes - and there is a worksheet in my book (which just went to the
printers, hooray! and is now expected to launch in mid-July) to
calculate your actual hourly wage including all those factors. It's
based on Mea Rhee's Hourly Earnings Project, where she calculated what
she was earning as a potter over the course of an entire year's worth
of shows and wholesaling before deciding to close her graphic design
studio and focus on potterymaking full time. If you go to
http://www.goodelephant.com and look at the Hourly Earnings Project
category, it makes for very interesting reading. I interviewed her for
my book.

I'm watching this thread with interest - one of the things I am doing
is figuring out how to make an income now that I've decided to exit
high-tech. I'm currently working on a business around teaching design
and creative process strategies (i.e. subjects from the book), but
creating an online gallery marketing textiles (and possibly other
crafts) has been in the back of my mind as well.

Tien


Re: We're not charging enough...

Jayne F
 

If the purchasers can afford to spend that much for a towel that is quite frankly not a "show towel", then they are probably not the people in the household actually using the towels either! Is function or quality high on their list of priorities? Or are they spending their money that way because other people are telling them to spend it that way? Sad.
Jayne


Re: We're not charging enough...Handweavers Marketing Association

Louise Yale
 

Hi Debbie
The best idea yet !!!!
Louise in rural NorCal

On 5/31/2016 5:28 AM, deborahkaplan@... [WeaveTech] wrote:
 

Ok, first the economics:

Perhaps we need a Handweavers Marketing Association to inform the public. I really am half serious here.

Debbie Kaplan

Posted by: deborahkaplan@...












Re: We're not charging enough...

Judy in Knife River
 

Not only money costs but cost in time. Time taken out of production.
Judy in Knife River
 

Sent: Tuesday, May 31, 2016 10:17 AM
Subject: RE: [WeaveTech] Re: We're not charging enough...
 


I like that Tien reminds us to consider business costs.  Rental of space/use of home business space, self-employment tax, sales tax, vendors licenses, health insurance, etc. will all take their toll in these areas.  Plus multiply that if there are other people on the payroll.  Plus payment to create and do marketing.  Even if you do it yourself with flyers and business cards, these all cost something to print, and would normally be accounted for in the pricing of goods sold.  At least that is what I read in all the books on the subject J

 

Nancy


Re: We're not charging enough...

Judy in Knife River
 

When I was in Stockholm a few years ago, I came across a shop run by five women. Each had a different specialty and each took one week to run the shop while staying at their studios the other weeks producing. When it was their week to run the shop, they were able to feature their work in the primo spot. Although they all were in the fiber/fashion type of work, they produced very different products. It was an interesting concept. Because of the minimum number of people involved they were able to have tighter control over their overhead costs and marketing plan. They were also able to be in a much bigger and focused market than they would have been able to spread about the country. They were in the old town of Stockholm which sees a lot of traffic including tourists. Although the internet is a great place to sell, location for small producers is still a big thing.
 
If people truly want to sell their wares, they do need to recognize that they are in business and need to develop some business and marketing skills. Even if it is not your thing, it is a good idea to take some business and marketing classes. Because if you are in business you have to act like you are really in business. Some where along the line you have to decide just what you are doing. Are you indeed producing as a hobby – and that is not a naughty word – or are you really in business and looking at producing enough to have a real income from your work. What ever you decide, you can’t point your finger at the ones who choose the other choice and complain.
 
Judy in Knife River
 

Sent: Tuesday, May 31, 2016 9:25 AM
Subject: [WeaveTech] Re: We're not charging enough...
 


I am finding this very interesting and like Tien, am wondering how to do a better job at selling my towels. My mind keeps go to ...if only there was a weaving cooperative to sell to. It certainly is hard for one person to do all the marketing, photography, website development, networking and the weaving on top of that. I think many of us can weave beautiful high quality towels.
 
Laura


Re: We're not charging enough...

Nancy Curtiss <ncurtiss@...>
 

I like that Tien reminds us to consider business costs.  Rental of space/use of home business space, self-employment tax, sales tax, vendors licenses, health insurance, etc. will all take their toll in these areas.  Plus multiply that if there are other people on the payroll.  Plus payment to create and do marketing.  Even if you do it yourself with flyers and business cards, these all cost something to print, and would normally be accounted for in the pricing of goods sold.  At least that is what I read in all the books on the subject J

 

Nancy


Re: We're not charging enough...

Handwerks
 

Hi Tien, 
Actually yes, I would be willing to give up $ to be able to just spend my time doing what I enjoy, ie the weaving. It turns out I am not very good at marketing and I don't really enjoy that aspect either. It certainly is a trade off to sell through galleries and shops.

Laura


Re: We're not charging enough...

Cynce Williams
 

If the purchase price was $120 rather than the $35 I ask and also pay a commission on, you betcha!

Cynthia

On May 31, 2016, at 9:30 AM, Tien Chiu tienchiu@... [WeaveTech] <WeaveTech@...> wrote:


Would you be willing to give up 50% of the purchase price to the
co-op, though, to cover all the business costs? I doubt it would cost
that much less than at a gallery...

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