What are you worth?

Ladies, let me ask you something: How much are you worth? You, not your products. You may be tempted to look at only your products or services when answering that question, but aren’t the two inextricably linked? Your products represent your values, your skills, your personality, your time, your money and your energy. That said, aren’t you leaving something out when you ask yourself what your products are worth?

A couple months ago, while vending at a gift show, two women approached my booth. One stopped to look at the items, but the other pulled her away and said (loudly enough for me to hear), “Burt’s Bees is the best if you want natural products.” I didn’t feel bad or ashamed – on the contrary, I was a bit sad for that woman. Why? She’s been bamboozled by marketing. Burt’s Bees is a huge company – it’s everywhere, lending it an air of authenticity and quality. Further, their clever marketing techniques have us believing it’s still being run by a sweet old dude out in the Northeast, with goats and beehives in his backyard. Well, honey, Burt is gone. You know who owns Burt’s Bees now? Fortune 500 company Clorox. Yeah, as in bleach.

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So yes, I felt sorry for her. She thinks Burt’s Bees is better – a company owned by Clorox, mass-produced, non-organic, not actually natural (check out the parfum/fragrance in many of the products, among other sketchy chemicals), most of it packaged in plastic. Compare that to a delightful little bath and body business owned by one woman, who thoughtfully creates each and every product by hand, using 100% all natural, organic, fair trade ingredients (which are super expensive, I might add), designs each label by herself, goes to great lengths to use eco-friendly packaging, photographs each product, writes all her own copy, and delivers orders to the post office on her bicycle. I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but if it was my choice, I’d choose me over Burt’s Bees any day!

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But here’s the deal. My products are comparable in price to Burt’s Bees products. I’ve tried to remain competitive, but when prices for my organic ingredients keep going up, should I even be worrying about that? I believe the traditional notions of pricing and competition are outdated.  (Although, that’s another post for another time.) So when we get right down to it, how much should we small business owners be charging for our goods?

Next Monday, I’ll be featuring several of my favorite small businesses, highlighting favorite products of mine. I’ll include the price as well as the “unseen value.” That’s where you come in – I can’t wait to hear your opinions. Are the prices too high? Too low? You tell us! :)

Until then…

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20 thoughts on “What are you worth?

    • @Maurie: Thank you! I’ve been working on seeing my own value for the past year. I think it’s so important for all of us! (Keep your eye on the mail – got something coming your way as soon as I get to the PO!)

  1. argh!!! i wish i were there so i could have loudly clarified for you!

    yes- this is so true as well- there is just so much more value when you factor in the local and the HUMAN aspect of small business owners.

    • @EcoYogini: Oh, thank you! I wish you had been! LOL. But I could see that the woman was shut down and was determined to sway her friend away from me. I was okay with that. Obviously, they weren’t my “peeps.” ;)

  2. Did you let her know they are owned by Clorox? A lot of folks simply need a gentle education and they can go from entry-level green to intermediate :)

    PS I slathered on your Herbwyfe Balm after working in the garden this weekend :-)

    • @EcoGrrl: No, I didn’t. Her friend very forcefully pulled her away and I could see that they were not open to that sort of thing. I have had those kinds of convos with people who seemed on the fence about things and more open, but this clearly would’ve been a waste of time. So I let them walk away, knowing there are others out there who will get it! :)

  3. Confession: I did not know that Burt’s Bees was owned by Clorox…ugh. This reminds of when I did a little “market research” to see what fragrances other soap manufacturers used in goat’s milk soap. I stumbled upon the Canus website, where their soap label has a very prominent “all natural” claim. The ingredients, however, list “DMDM Hydantoin,” a formaldehyde-releasing, carcinogenic preservative that even Johnson & Johnson is phasing out of their products…one of the worst out there. Gotta read those labels, research the ingredients and who you’re supporting – so important! Awesome blog! -Rachael

    • @Sellwood: Yes, it is SO deceptive! I mean, just look at the tag line for the logo I posted here: Earth-friendly, natural personal care products. It’s NOT natural when there’s parfum/fragrance and chemical preservatives in it. Nor is that particularly earth-friendly. So annoying! And it works, too – no one thinks twice about it. :\

      • Yep. You know…along the value line too…I was trying to think of how to put into words the value of having someone (us product maker folk) stock perishable ingredients that go into making natural products, rotating out old raw ingredients and products, etc. to always have on hand a fresh product for the customers. If a person wanted to buy the ingredients to make these products, it is usually a substantial investment to buy even small quantities of fixed oils and essential oils, likely more than the product itself costs and if you’re making them for just one person, most of the oils will go rancid within a year or so before they can use them.

  4. Your confidence is fabulous! It is so important to love yourself and love what you do, be confident in what you do because you do your best! I totally agree with that. It’s something I’m working on these days.. being able to sell my product to people face to face because they deserve something as good as what I make! It takes courage, confidence, and sincerity. Thanks for a great post! Very inspiring.

  5. Great post! I firmly believe you are right about not worrying about competing with “unnatural companies”.
    Their items are that cheap for a reason!
    It’s the same as whole foods compared to prepackaged jobs at the grocery store. You can only sell something labeled food for that cheap when it’s not actually, entirely food!

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