Pricing: Too high or too low?

All right, dear readers. If you read last Monday’s post, you’ll know I need your help for this one. I’ve chosen a handful of items here from some of my favorite small businesses. I would love for you to take a look at these items and the “value list” I have included with each one. Then, in the comments section, leave an answer to this question: What would you be willing to pay for these items?

Sellwood Soaps: Portland Oregon

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Shampoo Bars – $8

I met Rachael, owner of Sellwood Soaps, last summer, in Portland, when we both had a consignment account at the same shop. I immediately loved her products and sustainable business practices, and upon trying her shampoo bars, I was hooked! They make my hair so shiny and smooth. Amazing! Being in the bath & body business, I know how much good quality supplies cost and how much time it takes to make just one small batch of products. I don’t think most people realize that and are reluctant to pay more than $5 for a small product. However, what is more important that what you put on your skin and hair every day? To me, these shampoo bars are worth every penny – I’d even pay $9/bar for them. In fact, I wouldn’t argue a $10 price tag, though I realize that makes it harder for the average customer to afford. Just one of those pricing dilemmas we small businesses face every day!

::packaged in paper, not plastic

::handmade in the USA (Oregon!)

::contain no palm oil

::travel friendly

::nourishing to the hair and scalp (containing oils rather than liquid shampoos that are mostly detergents and preservatives)

::much  better for the environment (non-polluting when they wash down the drain!)

::long-lasting

Gaia Conceptions: Greensboro, North Carolina

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Below Knee Anoki Skirt – $85

I love Gaia Conceptions. It’s one of my favorite handmade clothing lines. (Soul Role is the other.) These clothes are top-notch, beautiful, versatile and eco-friendly. I own this skirt in blue (I’m wearing it in the “welcome” picture here on my blog) and I absolutely adore it and yes, I would pay up to $10 more for this skirt. I feel GC clothing has extremely high value and I want to support businesses that are as conscientious about sustainability as this one is.

::handmade (to your specific measurements!) in the USA

::dyed with plant or low-impact dyes

::made with hemp (or NC organic cotton or other sustainable fabrics)

::items come wrapped in tissue and tied with twine and twigs (and mine came with a Gaia Conceptions reusable shopping bag, as well) – it’s literally like getting a present in the mail!

Andrea, owner and designer, also had this to say about what factors go into pricing:

- rent or mortgage for a healthy and satisfying work environment for employees.
– paying everyone from seed to finished garment a living wage – by living wage I mean $15- $25 and hr not minimum wage.
– using ethical materials – not just fabric but paper, packaging, shipping supplies, etc.
– the cost of building sustainable production systems such as green energy and water catchment systems

Marci Ann Designs: Naples, Florida

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Paris L’Amour de la Vie Mouse Pad – $9

Yep, I own this one, too! I love this mouse pad. The design is beautiful, but best of all, it is withstanding the test of time far more than I would’ve expected. I’ve had it for almost a year, and you would never know that it wasn’t brand new. The white fabric isn’t getting as dirty as expected, and best of all, the edges haven’t curled up even a little bit. This was very well made and it just makes me smile! I would pay up to $12 for this, knowing how durable it is.

::handmade in the USA

::durable, long-lasting

Marcia, the owner, even makes some of these out of old vintage clothing, upcycling the fabric!

Cul de Sac: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

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Laura, eco-friendly retro doll – $42

I have to admit, I don’t own this item, nor have I ever seen it in person. But I’ve been a fan of Josee’s creations for a long while now. This is one of my favorite products of hers. Here’s the conundrum: I see huge value in handmade dolls like these. But knowing we are giving them to a child to play with and they may end up in a mud puddle… I can see the problem there. However, handmade dolls have been around for a very long time and there’s always been a market for them. I mean, look at Jess Brown, who charges $180+ for her handmade rag dolls. So honestly, I could say that I’d pay up to $55 for this doll (maybe more if I was a doll collector). Here’s some more value that you may not notice just by looking at it:

::handmade in Canada, using Josee’s twist on a Retro Mama design

::made from upcycled fabrics bought from secondhand shops (Josee buys the items that are too damaged to be resold in their original form and turns them into items like this!)

::prewashed in biodegradable soap

::t-shirt remnants are used for the hair and shoes, for their softness, rather than buying brand-new felt fabric

::19 1/2″ tall – this is a big doll!

::double-sewn seams for durability

::hand embroidered details

Silver by Keri: Hood River, Oregon

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Personalized silver disc charms – $7.50

I don’t own any of Keri’s line (yet), as I just *met* her via my shop a few weeks ago. But you know I love to support my fellow Oregonians, so I asked her if I could include her shop at the last minute. She gave me quite the run-down on how her jewelry is made. I had no idea how time- and labor-intensive the process is! And some of her products, like the ones pictured, sell for a mere $7.50. That’s a lot of time and work for $7.50! I appreciate the competitive pricing, but I would not balk at a $9 or $10 price tag for these little charms.

::handmade in the USA (go, Oregon!)

::personalized

::lots of time and energy go into these charms! (see the complicated process here)

::durable – well-made jewelry withstands the test of time

::silver is from recycled sources whenever possible

::silver scraps are collected and recycled

::orders are mailed in paper, not plastic and do not include wasteful paper receipts

::expensive fine silver is fused over sterling silver to reduce the number of chemicals used in the jewelry-making process

Thank you, dear readers, for taking the time to look through this very long post! If you have a moment, please leave a comment here about the product that caught your attention. Do you think the price is too high? Too low? What value do you see?

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13 thoughts on “Pricing: Too high or too low?

  1. WOw so many wonderful items here! yes handmade is hard to price since people still have the mentality to want: good looking, long lasting, good quality and cheap prices… that is not attainable for small businesses like ours. Even got some people (really just a few) that said while doing a craft fair that they could buy small handbags at walmart for less… Just said to them to go ahead and buy there :)

    • @Cul de Sac: Oh, I hate hearing stuff like that! It can be so discouraging, just like the lady who made the comment about Burt’s Bees at my last gift show. Sometimes, like then, I just feel sorry for the person. Who would honestly rather have something made on an assembly line? There’s no soul to 85% of the “stuff” we buy today. It’s sad. But I have to say that I think it’s super disrespectful when people make those kinds of comments at gift shows. To have a couple people say they could buy bags cheaper at WalMart – I just think that’s smack talk and totally inappropriate! If they don’t want to pay, they can move on, but they shouldn’t feel the need to shame you about your prices, which is essentially what they are doing. I’m going to have to include this in the next pricing post!

  2. Hmm, this is a hard one. For environmental / health / fair minded people, it’s hard to argue that prices for any of these products are too high, especially knowing the work and thought that goes into them! Other than that, it depends on each individual’s interests and ability to pay.

    Personally, I would easily pay three times the current price for the silver charm (I LOVE that some silver is recycled!), twice the current price for the mouse pad and up to $10 for the shampoo bar. The skirt is great, but as a student with a part-time job, $100 (with exchange rate and shipping) for an item of clothing is a hefty price. If I had the money, however, I would be more than willing to support a company with those awesome values! The only item that I would not consider buying would be the doll, just because the few kids I know have PILES of stuffed animals and dolls (cheap ones, horribly made, because it’s the easy gift to give) and it would not be appreciated. If I had a child of my own, however, it would only have one such toy, and I would in that case not balk at this kind of price tag.

    Honestly, even though I don’t have much money, I much rather spend it on quality items that fit my values than cheap, mass produced items that are harmful to my health and our environment.

    • @Krystal: As for the skirt, I can personally vouch that it’s worth it. LOL. I know it will last for many, many years and I truly love mine. I have very little money, as well (as you may have read in my financial posts), but I’ve gotten to the point of wanting to save up and invest in nice wardrobe staples – and from a company like this, I can’t resist! I love GC.

      As for the doll, I know what you mean. I’m shocked by how many toys kids have these days. But if I had my own, I’d do the same – just one (or two dolls) and very special, handmade dolls like this one.

      Thank you for your feedback! You rock!

  3. Since starting the soap biz, I make much less $ but am willing to save up to spend much more on quality, handmade products. Thanks for putting this blog together, I’m gonna check out a couple of these businesses!

  4. My thoughts:
    * Shampoo bar – absolutely. it’s not soap, it’s shampoo, and shampoo costs more than this in most stores. Great suggestion too – after my last s/bar left me greasy, this might make me try it again!
    * Skirt – I don’t pay $85 for most articles of clothing unless it’s a dress that’s very very special. I rarely shop for clothes, maybe once or twice a year, and since I’m in weight loss mode, I’m holding off even longer :)
    * Mousepad – I have a laptop so I haven’t used a mousepad in years. :)
    * Doll – Can’t judge as I hate dolls (no offense, they just creep me out!)…I always preferred stuffed animals as a kid.
    * Charms – Not a clue as I very rarely buy jewelry (nearly everything I own was gifted or I’ve had since college) – I don’t even have a jewelry box. My last “acquisition” was a necklace made from an existing chain and seashell.

    Sorry, not a ton of help but a big YES on the shampoo!

    • @EcoGrrl: LOL, hey, it’s all about priorities, right? That’s definitely something I’ve learned as I evolve as a business owner. It’s all about the customer who fits what you sell. :)

  5. Oops – I forgot to answer the questions…:)

    Silver charms – I’d pay up to double knowing that they are made from recycled silver, I love that.

    Skirt – I think this is priced well. Clothing is another one of those things that is incredibly undervalued because of big businesses making it so cheap. Making little $, I tend to buy used but when I need “something pretty” I will gladly pay the money it takes. I will be checking out her website!

    Doll – Perfectly priced, I’d pay that. it is adorable and I imagine that a lot of work goes into making dolls.

    • @Sellwood: I TOTALLY agree!! Especially what you said about the clothing. We are used to $10 shirts made from polyester in an Asian manufacturing plant. Not so great and definitely not durable. I’ve had my hemp skirt from GC on dozens of bike rides, out in the snow, wind and rain and it still looks as good as the day I bought it.

  6. I’m with Krystal here-
    I would pay for everything you mention here… but the skirt would be pricey on my budget and shipping and as someone who works with preschool aged children I’d have a hard time justifying the doll. That said- it could be a cute special gift… but if the child didn’t like the doll that is a bit of money for something that wouldn’t be played with.

    • @EcoYogini: I’ve gotten a lot of similar comments on the clothes so I definitely think it’s a priority. Sometimes I wish the clothes were cheaper so I could buy more! LOL. But I have followed GC for a couple years now and am so impressed by their business model that I would (and did and would again) pay a LOT for their clothes. Think of all the women who spend $100+ on a pair of shoes/boots, or $50+ on a pair of jeans. And all of those probably came out of factories in Asia. Why are we paying that much for cheap labor and cheap materials? You know what I mean? I’m starting to see my wardrobe as a very slowly evolving collection of really fantastic pieces – though I still regularly buy tshirts from WalMart and the like from time to time! I admit it!

      As for the doll, I totally get what you are saying. That one is a challenge for any doll maker, I would assume. But I keep thinking of that lady who makes rag dolls and sells them at $180. I mean, wow! And she is super successful. So there’s at least a market out there.

  7. I buy a shampoo bar from Lush that costs $12. I would pay that for a good shampoo bar without hesitation. The same for the mousepad – $12 is not a stretch.

    I agree with Krystal about the silver too – I’d pay triple. I have a hard time paying close to $100 for clothing – but I’m starting to change my attitude about that. I want clothes that fit, feel good and last long. Being outside as often as I am, I want clothes that hold up to wear a bit more too.

    I have a hard time pricing my products too. It feels like a dance sometimes – move a price this way, then that. I’ve enjoyed your posts on this topic!

    • @Jen: Yes, I think it is a dance. It’s actually becoming a fascinating process to me. I think it’s a lot of experiments but also building our belief in our worth and our products’ value.

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