it's off to market we go...

Replying to Woolly Wormhead got me thinking about how I value my work and the need to get myself organised for the market next month. If you're reading this and you have no idea what I'm talking about, the short answer is that I crochet hats and sell them. Mainly online at and Champion, but I also have some in Vent Creative Outlet in Port Chalmers, NZ, and I do some custom work.

With my hats, I pay bugger-all for materials since I use mainly yarns from my stash, or from cheap job-lots at auction. Occasionally I'll buy odd balls as well, and I'll buy new yarn for custom jobs, but I rarely pay full price for yarn. From two average-sized balls of yarn, I can make a basic beanie hat in about 4 hours, and I charge my time at $5 per hour. I value my time low because I enjoy making hats while watching TV, and I would be making them anyway. So if I paid $2 per ball for the yarn, plus $20 for labour, theoretically that hat would be valued at $24. And because I'm not really concerned with being compensated for my labour but I like the idea of making a little money from my hats, I consider anything above the material cost my "profit". Then I have a look at what other comparable hats are priced at - at the local markets, knitted and crocheted hats range from someone who seriously underprices theirs at $8, to more elaborate styles for $35, and local boutiques charge anywhere from $35 up to a crazy $90 for a "designer" crochet mohair creation. Online at Etsy, most of the hats range from US$10 to US$30. So I keep the basic price of one of my hats to $25, and the Etsy ones either US$10 or US$15. I've been told by people that I'm not charging enough for them, but I'm happy with this price for the time being for these particular hats. But I worry sometimes that by pricing the hats cheaply I'm undercutting other craftspeople who want/need to charge more for their wares, and also whether I can raise the price later if I need to in order to generate income.

So anyway, next month the Dunedin Craft Market is starting up on Saturdays, and I need to get myself organised. I plan to go the second Saturday, which will be 17th Dec, and probably the second Sat in January as well. It's $20 each time, which is not too expensive, but I also need to get a trestle table ($50 or so from the Warehouse), a folding chair and a mirror to take along. This is a great little tutorial about getting ready for a market. I thought I'd cover the table with one of my afghans from home to keep up the crochet theme, and make a sign at work. I already have price tags which I'll need to fill out, and I can either use those as business cards or make some at work the week prior. Hopefully I'll have my green hoodie creation (like this one, but in greens) finished by then to serve as more crochet-themed marketing. I'm not really bothered if I don't sell anything on the day, it'll be just good for the experience and for networking, and worst comes to worst an extra 6 hours' crocheting won't do me any harm! :)


Woolly Wormhead said…
Lhizz, you're such a star!

Thanks for everything you've posted regards Woolly Wormhead's Emporium, and the additional info you've written here - it's a great help.

You're dead right about knowing your market and aiming for it (in my case festival, alternative hippy types) I do know the festival market well, and reckon my hats would sell better there, or maybe a more quirky craft market.

I love your suggestion too about hat kits ;) That's really got me thinking, about dyeing my own yarn and even making the needles! I think I've solved the problem about cost of materials - someone who belongs to a couple of groups that I also subscribe runs a mail order company for customed dyed yarn, and she's happy to sell me undyed wool at cost price - she's put some samples in the post.

The amount that some people have told me that they charge for their crafted goods scares me - this is gonna take further research... some folk are barely making anything at all despite selling loads... but I want to make a living from it, so will have to charge a tad more... but as you say, it's about branding, knowing your market etc...

... being as I'm making quirky one-off's from pure wool - and not just the hats - felted jewellery etc - I would hope that buyers appreciate the quality and appreciate the charge that goes with that? Hmmmm!!

And cheers for suggesting ways of treating it as a job and making sure I stick to regular hours.... when I was doing my main textile degree I had no problem keeping the hours then, as I was creating for myself and following my own ideas - so if I keep the same philosophy, and just sell them, it should work! I've also had visions of us travelling... even when we're on the move and Tom's driving, I can still sit in the cab and knit ;)

So it takes you about 4 hours for each hat then? The ones I've been making recently have taken about 3... so that's not too bad I suppose...

Anyhow m'dear, if you want any advice on spinning, dyeing or even just a crafty natter, drop me a line :)
Woolly Wormhead said…
Duh... Ruth's still ill so brain not fully functioning....

The link to the 'getting ready for a craft fair' tutorial - also mega handy! Think I should read again later.

Good luck with your own fairs - your hats are really cute!
octopusgrrl said…
I think with the quality and individuality of your "product", Ruth, you can afford to pump your prices up more. You might encounter some resistance from people who go to markets expecting to find cheap stuff, but I think you should stick to your guns. You're creating the integrity of your brand (uck, marketing-speak ;) and it's the whole "field of dreams" thing: "build it and they will come" = create a beautiful one-off product and people will pay for it. It's not easy, though - so many times when my hat sales have gone through a lull, I've been tempted to slash the price of them, put them up for local online auction at tiny reserves, just to get sales happening, but it's not the best thing to do. There's a certain sense that you get what you pay for, and if something has a higher price tag, people value it more. Your work is great and you're putting a lot of effort into it, so you deserve to command a decent price for your artistry.

(I could go on to have a big rant about global consumerism and how big box stores are ripping the heart out of hardworking artisans and exploiting cheap labour markets, but I won't bore you ;)

Heh, I'm looking forward to living my travelling lifestyle daydream vicariously through you guys :) I don't know much about British travellers, I'm assuming things operate similar to how they do here in that there's a community of housetrucks, caravans and buses that follow a regular circuit?

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