Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A bee in my bonnet

I'm not going to go into specifics because I don't want to offend anyone, but I do want to write about this anyway because it is really important to me. I hope this comes across the right way!

There's a certain product that hundreds of people make and sell and some of them do very well with, but very few of these products are made 'properly' **. It's a very simple product, but making it 'properly' is actually quite tricky and time consuming. I'm not sure whether the people who make it the 'wrong' way are entirely aware that they are doing it 'wrong'. I try to give them the benefit of the doubt and think that, like me once upon a time, they don't know how to make it the 'right' way. I hope that they're not doing it their way because it's quicker.

I initially thought this was a dilemma for me. I could make it 'properly', but if I wanted to charge for my time to do so, I'd need to charge at least double the average price that my competitors do, which is tricky. So at first I thought that maybe it isn't worth me making them. Or that maybe I could make them the 'wrong' way. No one seems to mind/notice, so why shouldn't I make them quickly and easily?

Tonight I decided why, and I don't know why I didn't think of it sooner.

The reason is that one of the main things that I strive for in my work is to make it as well made as possible. That is not something I want to, or should compromise on. It just isn't worth it.

I still haven't decided whether to make that certain product or not yet. I think I have an alternative that can be as good, if not better in mind.

** Now, the question has been posed - what is 'properly' and who says it is 'properly' made? Well I'm not entirely sure of the answer to that. I think that there are basic techniques that anyone who is trained in sewing should know/learn and use. It's hard to point them out without giving away the product I'm refering to so I won't right now, but I think that is the way that you determine if something is made 'properly'. Or at least that is the method I use at the moment.


incalesco said...

It is so tricky, I see the same thing in jewellery making all the time. Often there is a 'professiona;' way of making things and a quick and easy way. I am lucky that I have had the training that allows me to know the professional way of making it... but that doesn't help you compete on Etsy.

It's a tough call, good luck with your decision.

Original Mischief said...

I am sooooo curious! :)

Deb said...

I have a foot in both camps. I recognise and appreciate quality, whether I pay extra for it depends on what it is and what I want to use it for - some things it isn't worth spending extra on. But I also appreciate design and purpose.

So for example I wanted something specific in my nappy design when I was making them. I'm not trained in sewing, I would never say mine were of the same quality as others out there. But the function of that specific feature was important enough to me to outweigh the workmanship. If there'd been someone else selling nappies with that feature I wouldn't have cared if the wings were uneven, because ultimately the fit and function are more important than the aesthetics. Although I would definitely have cared if they fell apart!

And if there are lots of people making these the quick and easy way the function argument doesn't apply, because you're not trading off workmanship for a specific feature. All you can do is let the customers decide - point out the extra features your product has, whether that is reliability or it will last longer or look neater, then let them decide if it is worth the money.