I Can Not Afford My Own Work

I can not afford my own work.

That sounds absurd doesn’t it?

It’s true. I really can’t, not on a regular basis. If I set money aside, trim corners, and save up, I can treat myself to something like one of my bonnets. But, as a general rule of thumb, no, I can not afford my own work.

I make less than $30,000 a year at my day job. This is as a degreed, certified person, with 20 years experience. So, the basics must come first. Rent, utilities, oh, and food. To cover those year round, I need my small millinery business.

I plan months in advance, thinking about what I want to treat myself for Christmas and my birthday. I make a list of things I need want. Save up the best I can. Then, usually pick the one I need the most. If I am lucky, I can land an extra good deal.

So, when you tell me you are on a budget or you can’t afford my work or something similar, please know: I understand.

Truly, I do. I am on a tight budget now. I’ve been on a far, far tighter budget. I’ve literally lived from book sale to book sale.

Edit: I fear this first part has been misconstrued or I was not clear. I want my readers, my followers, my wish-to-be-clients to know I see you, I understand, and I’ve been there when it comes to being on a limited budget. I want you to keep reading, keep learning, keep trying. Don’t be discouraged by the price tags. There is so, so much more to historical interpretation than what money can buy.

Part 2 – The Elephant in the Room – Etsy and Cost of Materials

It is a pretty heavy time for many artists and artisans. The cost of materials has gone up. Once we think we’ve got a handle on it, it goes up again. Then throw in platform fees.

Let’s talk about that last one first. There is an Etsy boycott and/strike coming up mid April. First, I will not be participating. I believe a boycott of Etsy will hurt merchants and artisans more than it will hurt the platform. This move is taking place at the same time many merchants are attempting to pay their income tax bill and many merchants are attempting to make up for unpaid Spring recess weeks or save for the summer. I also suspect the move was originated with competing platforms, not platform merchants.

Yes, Etsy is increasing their sales fee from 5% to 6.5%. Yes, the reasoning they put forward in the announcing email focuses on customer service, which many merchants feel was fluff at best. Yes, I have reasons for staying with Etsy and not being too upset about that fee increase. For those who do not know, the sales fee covers: the platform which easily searchable and provides security for merchants and shoppers, downloadable csv files for tracking sales and details, and the processing/remittance of sales tax and VAT. For those without experience with state sales taxes: these are processed differently in each state, some annually, some quarterly; they are collected based on the state of the buyer; rates can be state specific or county specific, ie each county within NY has a different rate combining state, county, and sometimes city tax. Collecting, tracking, processing, and remitting this manual would be prohibitive for a great many merchants. If my platform did not do this for me, I would have stopped selling years ago.

What I do have “issue” with is Etsy’s off-site ad process and policy. This has been in place for over a year. I believe the sensible approach to this is to educate consumers about advertisements, as that is beneficial all around. Stay tuned for more on this.

The cost of materials…. sigh. It hurts. Doesn’t it? It seems like almost everything is going up in price. I may have had a not so little fit on Friday regarding the cost of calculators nearly tripling.

The fit was not really about calculators. They pushed me over the edge. It was about shipping and velvet ribbon and silk and wool and bonnet lining and ribbon and packing paper and boxes and… and… gingerbeer and raspberries … and….

We each have our own list.

I am determined to continue to offer you the most accurate and lasting millinery pieces possible. I am also determined to find a way to make millinery affordable. While finding this balance, I need to be sure to keep myself afloat.

The cost of materials and decline of availability did result in a price increase at the turn of the year. Even though additional increases are pushing at me to increase again, I am pushing back in resistance. I am considering restructuring pricing to benefit both my clients and myself. I need to look into that further.

Part 3 – Thank you

I intended to write a post about this. But, rather than have multiple commentary posts, I am putting it all together.

Several of you reached out regarding the recent increase in posts, be it the Women’s History Month series, the Monday Millinery reposting, or writing in general. I thank you for doing so. Yes, I hope this means I am coming out of my slump. Yes, I hope this means I will be writing more. I know I certainly feel more like writing on more days.

I have been thrilled to see people reading again. I see stats numbers up to where the were back in 2017/8 or so. I hope this means people are reading more in general. I think that is a good sign.

I have an idea for a May series of short, daily mini-posts similar to the format of the March series. I need to get that together to see if I can make I happen.

The interpretive season is starting soon. I will make a point to take photos as well as video so I can share the events with you.

Thank you for reading this length commentary post. I hope it gives you some insight and is helpful.

Published in: on April 12, 2022 at 9:32 am  Comments (2)  

2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Anna, I am so sorry you are feeling a terrible pinch in finances! Your Etsy items are very reasonably priced. I enjoy sitting down and reading your posts on this site and Don’t Paint the Cat. You have encouraged me, educated me, and delighted me with your eye-candy creations and shared, documented knowledge. So if you need to have a serious discussion, tell it!
    Thanks for ALL you do and imagine,

  2. Hmmm. That wasn’t what I was trying to say. I was trying to say I understand those who are on a tight budget or who are unable to purchase what they would like.

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