Before actually starting Atelier Oursonne, I was thinking and researching a lot about the pricing of hand made items. There seems to be an agreement in the online world that 2 or 3 times the price of the material is appropriate and I have to say that I find that calculation a bit odd and does not value at all the amount of work that goes into a knitted item. I came across this blog post http://ittakesballstoknit.com/?p=2457 from a guy who is even suggesting that people should not buy any hand knitted items sold at ridiculously low prices.
And on Portobello Road Market I once saw a stand with lots of hand knitted sweaters in children sizes for about 8 to 10£. They were only made of very cheap acrylic yarn but still, this is ridiculous. It barely covers the costs of material. So where did they get the yarn from and who has been knitting? Certainly no one in London, or the UK, or Europe… I still regret that I didn’t ask the lady when I passed. I was clearly under shock.
Obviously, if I would calculate the price of a very simple sweater for a baby by adding the costs of the material to the labour costs (even if I just used the minimum wages for my calculation), then I would have to price it somewhere in between 100 and 150£. Some might find that a tiny bit too much for any garment for a baby…. And I have to say that I personally would not pay that kind of money for a knitted sweater for one of my children even if it is made of 100% pure merino wool. I would just knit it myself 🙂
I know that some people are actually prepared to pay even more for a special piece of their toddler’s wardrobe but I also think that every child should have the right to wear a good quality woolen sweater during the cold winter months rather than the statically charged and sweaty acrylic version. Well, “every child” is probably a bit ambitious considering that already the material costs easily 10 – 30£ depending of the size of the sweater.
So I have finally decided to take many things into account when calculating my prices: the amount and quality of the used yarn, the complexity of the actual work (sometimes it is simple and you can do it whilst doing other things too, sometimes you really need to focus), labour time to a certain extend and the “intended purpose” to name just a few.
Intended purpose means that the price of the necessary woolen sweater for a child will not depend much on the labour time whilst the price for the pretty cushion or for the delicate lace shawl knitted from a silk-merino blend will reflect those hours of work much more.
So, having high and low prices in the same shop might look odd at first but I hope I could make my choice clear with this post.