Hey friends! I want to talk about something, but I need you to hear me loud and clear when I say this is NOT A COMPLAINT – so if you PROMISE we can agree on that, here goes. I want to tell you about my weekend. My husband put in a full work week by Thursday, so he had off on Friday. By 9:30 that morning, he and I (in between major rainclouds) were loading up the van with a large hutch and a dresser to bring to Graced. To make room for that meant putting the car seats in the other vehicle and rearranging the seats, a nice little workout all on its own. Then we loaded up the 2 year old and the 4 month old (and our puppy!), and drove to my parents’ in two separate vehicles to drop off the 2 year old and puppy, and continued to Graced, which is an hour from our house. The two of us unloaded the furniture there, made a quick stop at St. Vinnie’s for some “essentials,” and then continued on for another 40 minutes to pick up a dresser – only to find out she had the day mixed up and wasn’t home. Keep in mind we had the 4 month old along this whole time. On the way back, we stopped by my aunt and uncle’s to borrow their trailer to pick up a dining set later in the weekend. By the time we got back to my parents’, my contacts were really bothering me and I was having trouble seeing and didn’t feel comfortable driving anymore. So we left one vehicle and the trailer at my parents’, moved the car seats (again), loaded everybody up, and headed home. Including the drive home, that was approximately a 7 1/2 hour day.
On Saturday morning, I spent about 45 minutes tinkering with some odds and ends in my workshop while my husband hung out with the kids. At 10:30, a lovely couple who are clients came to pick up their custom order. At 11:00 I unloaded the car seats from the van, rearranged the seats ( AGAIN – can you tell how much I love doing that?), and drove over an hour roundtrip to get two (amazing) matching dressers. When I got back, my husband quickly unloaded them, got the car seats BACK in the van, and we piled in the van once again so he could pick up the other vehicle and trailer at my parents’ and I could go back and get the dresser that the lady mixed up the day before. It was POURING by the time we got to my parents’, where my husband moved the car seats from the van to the other vehicle, switched the kids over, and headed back home (over an hour roundtrip for him) and I went on to get the dresser. After a two and a half hour roundtrip drive in an awful, scary, torrential downpour for me, and after loading and unloading a heavy dresser, Saturday was over after 6 1/2 hours of work. Are you guys tired yet? 😉
This morning at 11, we switched the car seats YET AGAIN to the vehicle with the trailer, loaded everybody up, and drove 45 minutes to get the dining set, which included a very large hutch and heavy table, neither of which were a picnic to get loaded and secured. By this time, the kids were totally over being in the car, especially the baby, so we listened to him scream all the way home. After coming home and unloading everything, and a late lunch, my husband and 2 year old left to return the trailer, another hour plus trip for them. By the time they get home, this will have been close to a six hour day of work.
Ok. So. Why am I telling you this if not to complain? I’m telling you this so when you see someone selling a piece of furniture for $250, or even $600, you have a glimpse of what that amount means. My entire family just worked for 3 days without anybody paying us. And I haven’t even touched the HOURS of time finding furniture every week, the cost of the furniture itself, gas, vehicle maintenance, paint, brushes, wood filler, tools, price tags, knobs, pretty drawer liner, childcare one day a week so I can paint, booth rental fees, commission…I think you get the picture! Guys, I do this because I love it. Genuinely, truly, love it. I’m so blessed to have a family that supports this dream I have, because as you can see, this is not a one woman show. But in the few years I have been doing this I have yet to actually make any money. Nearly every cent I’ve made goes right back into the business, which is something I need to work on. I value what I do, and my prices are starting to reflect that. It’s a tough balance, trying to be reasonable in my prices without going broke. When I first started out I practically gave a few things away before I realized how much time and money was truly being invested. That wasn’t fair to my family or myself. But in case this is starting to sound like a complaint, understand that I’m honestly not trying to make this all about me. Chances are, wherever you live, you have local artisans like me who are trying to do something that they love while also supporting their family. While many of us wouldn’t question the prices for mass produced goods at the furniture store, or even at Target or Home Goods (regardless of whether we would actually pay those prices) we may find ourselves wondering “$400 for a dresser?” or “$40 for a wooden sign?” or “$30 for a scarf?” when Suzy down the street makes them. Whatever that handcrafted item may be, understand that the price tag goes far beyond that one item in front of you. Please know that the overwhelming majority of artisans are not trying to be greedy, and are not over inflating their prices by any stretch of the imagination. More likely, they’re just trying to make ends meet. And if you are one of those artisans, value yourself and show that in your prices. Because if you don’t, who will?
So again, please don’t think I’m complaining. I’m tired, but I’m grateful. This was a heck of a weekend, but I got some amazing things, met some great people, and overall, I feel really good about it. But after three days of putting my family through the circus that is my life, I just felt like I needed to say something. Thanks to all of you who have supported me so far, it truly means the world to me. I haven’t had anybody complain about my prices (at least not to my face 😉 ) and haven’t had too many people try to barter a lower price. This is not coming from a place of defensiveness, I just want to be transparent.
I hope you don’t mind me sharing this with you. It’s a lot more fun to talk about pretty furniture and paint, but sometimes you just gotta “go there!” I hope you all had a great weekend. Now, is it bedtime yet?! 😉