Self Esteem and the Pricing Debate

As most of you lovely regular readers of my blog know, I’m fairly new to the crochet game. Despite my clear addiction to crochet which would indicate that I’ve been crocheting forever ( I have loads of stock now) I’ve only really just started on my crochet journey at CROCHET BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL

I may be new to crochet , but I’m not new to business. I’ve been running my children’s entertainment service business Diane’s Puppets  now for 20 years and I’m still in business, right in the middle of a double dip recession , despite my job being a dispensable luxury service ( I’m not strictly essential really am I? ) which should indicate that I’ve got some sort of a business brain in my skull. ( As well as being rather silly, don’t ask, it’s a skill!)

So where is this all leading, you may ask?

Well…keep the business thing in your head and let me tell you a story.

I made this bag the other day:

Black and bright granny square tote bag

Large Granny square tote bag, she’s a beauty.

I think she’s a beauty. She’s made of 33 individual squares ( no two squares alike ) in very bright colours, with gold yarn detailing , fully lined in black cotton with pockets, button fastened, nice long strong matching striped shoulder strap and finished off with a pretty large red crochet rose.

This bag came about as a bit of an afterthought. She started life off as a scarf commission. ( Well I say commission, no money was ever decided on as I didn’t want to commit to such a large piece without giving the pricing structure really good thought. ) Actually, let me explain this properly.

I meet lots of wonderful people when I occasionally work my market stall.

Crochet Bright and Beautiful market stall

I get many admirers. It is certainly a massive ego boost to have strangers stop and admire your work. This one time was no exception. I had a young lady stop and ask me about my granny square cushions and she explained that the latest trend on the high fashion catwalks across the globe was bright crochet colours in crochet granny squares edged in black. She pointed out the very bright colours in my granny square cushions and asked if I could make a scarf for her in the up to the minute fashion trend of black and bright. I said that was certainly possible. She then went on to explain that she would like a scarf approximately 2 1/2 ft (70cms) wide and REALLY long as in when she wrapped it around her neck, she wanted it down to her mid calf. In my head I was thinking , my goodness, that’s not a scarf, that’s a blanket!

Now I had my cushions on sale at the time which this lady was clearly carefully checking outThis one , for instance was clearly marked at £20. It is made of 9 squares plus a large square at the back. It takes around 2 days to complete. I have a pricing structure for granny squares that goes like this: £1 per square plus 10% for joining and finishing. That would make 2×9 squares plus £2 = £20.When I compare it with similar cushions on handmakers sites like Folksy and Etsy the price compares favourably, indicating I’m doing something right.

So I had made a mental calculation that this gargantuan scarf that this lady had excitedly requested would cost a pretty penny to create. She did keep pressing me for a quote on the spot , but knowing I needed time to work this out before committing to a price I gave her my card and asked her to call me back.She kept reassuring me that ‘Don’t worry, I’ll pay” . I thought to myself, well she’s seen the price of the cushions…

Well, it worked out that the scarf would take around 85 squares to complete… and would cost around £90. Ouch!

I don’t think the lady was that excited anymore as I didn’t hear back. I was left with some gorgeous squares that I could now transform into something else.

And so my bag was born.

Using my formula, I worked out the cost to charge on the large bag. It would retail at £65 which although wasn’t cheap, I think it represents the amount of work that went into this original bag.  It took at least two weeks solid work  to make this. This was not a massed produced  item, but a handcrafted one-off; the person who likes this bag would be liking something totally unique.

I took photos and popped it onto Pinterest. How I love Pinterest! For a visual person like myself, there is nothing more contagious than collecting images and being able to organise them into ‘taste boards.’ I’ve found it indispensable as well to gauge public taste and the marketplace. If you haven’t jumped on the Pinterest train yet, hurry!

Well this bag proved to be very popular and got lots of likes and ‘repins’ ( when someone copies your pin and puts it in their own collection of desired images) in a very short space of time.  I noticed that someone had commented on the bag after liking and repinning it saying:

They’re selling these for £65!! I could make the same for under £20 and still make a profit!

That stung initially. But then I started to think, well if she liked it, if she could do  the same for less, why didn’t /hasn’t she? I replied :

Sure? Depends if you are charging for your time… This is a large tote bag .

And I got this answer:

Rough estimate of cost, without seeing the exact size. But, pretty sure. All depends on how much you consider your time is worth, I guess 😉

This made me think about the whole hand making and pricing situation and how it is inherently connected with your feelings of self worth. Maybe a decade ago when I wasn’t in a good , solid place emotionally, I may have been tempted to lower my prices in an attempt to placate the lady  but now, I wasn’t going to do any such thing. I responded:

To be fair to me, a bag this size would cost at least £20 in Primark and I’m certainly worth more than sweat shop rates…

That seemed to kill the argument/debate/ commentary stone dead.

Now this morning I received an email from two wonderful ladies who started me on my blogging journey in the first place, who run Ace Inspire , a company that encourage small business. I’m going to replicate the entire email because it is so relevant my story.

Dear Diane,

My personal theme right now is ‘honouring your time and worth’.  It’s really forced me to think about the work I do, what I charge, my own self worth and how that affects my pricing.

One of the main human fears is rejection: in fact I heard once that it was the number one fear.  Being rejected by our fellow human beings can be one of the most hurtful things that can happen.  It comes from our ancient background, our need to be an accepted part of the ‘tribe’.

To avoid rejection many people choose to go ‘under the radar’. They never step up and do the thing that they were meant to do because they’re too frightened they might be rejected.

To grow a business, even to start a business you need to face your fears around being rejected.

You see, when you’re in business, you don’t want to supply everyone, especially if you have a service business.  Your marketing and pricing is your tool box to help you encourage people to reject you!  What’s that?  We actively want people to reject us?  Well yes, we can’t possibly serve everyone, and we don’t want to have to spend every day assessing each potential client one by one to establish who is the right fit for us.  This is the purpose of marketing, and pricing is the equivalent of the hammer in your toolbox.

Negative rejection based pricing

What is it?  It’s when you price your services very low as you fear rejection.  You don’t want to hear the word ‘no’.  You’re frightened that some people can’t afford what you’re offering and that makes you feel uncomfortable.  Your own self worth might be low and you’re using your business and pricing to bolster that – you need to hear ‘yes’ to build your confidence and self-esteem.

Positive rejection based pricing

What is it?  It’s when you realise that you can’t serve everyone in the world and that there is an ideal client for you and to reach that ideal client you have to use your toolbox.  Pricing is your hammer, and you have to use it to get rid of everyone that isn’t the right fit.  You need to actively seek rejection and realise that it’s a positive thing.

The ‘right’ price is the price where YOU are fairly remunerated and where your CLIENT feels they’re getting VALUE.   Your job is twofold;

•             Work out at what price attracts those clients that find the appropriate value in what you do.

•             What do you need to offer to achieve the VALUE at the price you’re charging.

Once you’ve done this you have the perfect pricing strategy for you AND your clients.

If you enjoyed this article, it is just a taster of the sort of thing you’ll be getting in the new ACEInspire course for Summer 2012. Watch out for the email on 8th May that will tell you all about it.

Antonia Chitty and Erica Douglas –

I read this and smiled. Thank you validating angels. I knew I was right but it was great to have that reassuring pat on the shoulder. After all, I do sell my work even though some people do think that it is expensive. Well, hand crafting does appear expensive when you put it next to mass produced sweat shop produced goods.

Please check out Antonia and Erica’s sites. They are  really clever ladies!

To end this rather long post, I have to leave you with this :

These monkey shoes were purchased by a very lovely fella I met at Brixton Makers market. He didn’t appear to be terribly well off, in fact at first glance he appeared to be a street drinker. ( maybe it was the can of beer in his hand). He fell in love with these shoes and asked me to put them aside for his grandson while he went to the cash point to get money. I duly did, despite thinking he may not be returning.

But he did, and he paid the full price of £9.  When I remarked that some people had said my stuff was pricey, he shook his head and said of course they aren’t. Just look at the work that went into these! What do people expect to pay?

Thank you Mr Monkey shoes angel. I hope your grandson gets many happy days of wearing the magic monkey shoes.

If you’re a facebook person, please like my page on Facebook . Ta!


I’ve had such incredible response to this post,  thanks everyone! By far the most interesting response was a lovely lady below who linked me to this post, I just have to share it with you. It really does put everything I said into sharp relief.

Please PLEASE check it out. It was an OMG  moment for me.

32 responses to “Self Esteem and the Pricing Debate

  1. twinkletoes2day

    How inspiring this all is Diane, thank you so much for posting it. I am, i do admit, in the ‘Negative rejection based pricing’ group. I may well now change that thanks to your posting here. Bless your heart and all you do ❤ 😀 x

    • We are all vulnerable to underselling ourselves when we put a little bit of ourselves into what we do. It’s sort of like wearing your heart on your sleeve. It’s easier for me to be in the other category as I’ve done my apprenticeship in my 20 years as a kids entertainer. I seriously underpriced myself for a long time until I realised that people valued what I did and it was about time I took myself seriously. Once I did that, my business flourished. Thanks for your continued support and interaction Mo, makes things really worthwhile and human. Bless. xx

  2. Really glad that Erica’s concept hit the spot for you Diane – you are one of many people who we know are facing similar challenges – I’m so glad the email reinforced that you are right to charge properly for your work.

  3. Great post!

    Your products are gorgeous, Diane! I’ve been crocheting since I was six years old, and feel that I came close to mastering the craft less than ten years ago. I’m sure that I underpriced myself in the past, but now I know fully well that I do great work and that someone, somewhere is willing to pay full price for my work. There have been several people who at one point expressed an interest in my items, only to later say that they cost more than they’re willing to spend. Though I’m tactful in my response, I let them know in no uncertain terms that they always have the option of buying mass-produced items at a lesser rate, but that isn’t my line of business.

    • My sister over the seas, I so appreciate your feedback. I’m finding that I’m having to remind people constantly that you cannot compare hand crafted stuff to mass produced ‘sweat shop’ goods made in exploitative conditions. I’m quickly learning that finding the right marketplace is key, I’ve done a few market stalls and even though they are craft markets, most people expect that market stalls will be selling cheap goods, hence many expressing that my stuff is gorgeous but expensive. Yes, next to knock down price mass produced goods they do appear expensive. But I’ve still sold remarkably well despite this.

  4. Love the bag! Great post. I crochet too. I used to have so many people that would say, “If I buy the yarn, will you make it for me?” And I did that a lot until I realized I was no longer enjoying crocheting, and that my time was worth something too. Now I charge per hour if they want something, and it’s not cheap. 😉

    • Ah, it is amazing how people can take others for granted, isn’t it? I’m so glad you’re now charging what you are worth. Thanks so much for your feedback, really great to know people are reading my scribblings!

    • Heather….how do you figure how much to charge per hour?

  5. Thank you for posting this. It is very inspiring. I’ve often wondered about selling some things that I make but have just thought that I wouldn’t be able to charge the price I want to. I used to produce graphite drawings, each one took at least 20 hours to make and I never charged enough for them, which made me ultimately feel worthless. Thanks once again for the article, I may just go ahead and create items to sell at the price they’re worth, just like you. Well done.

  6. Firstly, yes your party business is not a luxury to many of us with young children – do not underestimate yourself! Secondly I love the bag and your work in general. Thirdly, thanks so much for this post. It is incredibly timely as I am just beginning to start selling. I have put it off for a long time and now I know why! This post is so inspirational. Thank you so much 🙂

  7. Emma @ Sweet Mabel

    Thank you for sharing this. I’m hoping to start selling my crafts online soon and your post has given me the inspiration and encouragement that I needed. Thanks again. x

  8. Pingback: Inspiration: Charging what your crafts are worth « Hooked By Me

  9. Thank you – I am about to start selling crochet christening shawls, and setting the price is definitely the hardest part. I’ll be selling to a shop, for re-sale, which adds another complication.

  10. woollythinker

    Great post. The bag is indeed gorgeous, and I think well priced. It’s weird how some crafters see a handmade item, think “wow, a lot of work went into that, she’s selling her time very cheap!” and others will look at the same thing and think “wow, I could make that, the price is such a rip-off!” (Because clearly, crafting is such a pleasure we should all do it for free and nobody deserves to make a living through making things…) But obviously, your market isn’t the latter group. It’s those who either can’t make it themselves, or appreciate your talent all the more because they can – and in either case, who think the quality of the product is worth the price to them. (And really: I’ve been looking at a lot of high-street bags lately. Your pricing compares very well.)

  11. You have expressed my views exactly. It is so easy to underprice to get the sale but we have to value our work.

  12. Joelle Hymel

    Great post! (I think your bag is actually worth more than you priced it at!)

  13. But so much stuff people sell is ugly and badly made! It’s expensive at the price. Besides people can’t afford to pay for the really nice stuff (and mostly it isn’t all that nice). It isn’t that they don’t want to.

  14. Suzanne Elliott

    I have read and re read and I thank you. For me the best pay I have ever received is chocolate,totally my choice and for my own reasons, but your post is very important and I hope crafter’s take it to heart.
    But I saw this link…Which does, I think, prove the point that there is someone out there for everything!
    Please be amused by this link
    And aspire to conquer the world.

    • Thank you sooooo much for that link! OMG! That has really made my day. I must say I do prefer my bag. My colours are so much nicer. And it seems a snip at £65 now. In fact I should put the price up! Great comment, I shall aspire to conquer the world, thank you! Goes off singing…* Nothings gonna stop us now*

  15. Pingback: Dolce and Gabbana crocheted bag gets mixed reaction « Hooked By Me

  16. Pingback: Super Saturday Selections – How to decide? « Family Bugs Blogging

  17. Pingback: A Behemoth of a Beauty : Scarf Commission | Diane gets Crafty

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s