This blog post was inspired by a blog that a fellow EtsyLush team member posted in a forum http://whatthecraft.com/overpriced-cant-afford-handmade-pricing/
Check out her post. It is very informative and really sheds light into the reason why handmade items cost more than the crap you find at Wal-Mart. Really makes you think twice. Well, since reading her blog post, I decided to really put some thought into my own process of making items and share it with everyone since I have heard comments from people I know who think it is ridiculous that people pay what they do for my handmade light switch and outlet covers. Custom orders in particular are what I hear comments about from people. Well, let's explore the reason why.
Sure you can buy a light switch cover at your local hardware store or even a department store for cents on the dollar. Not many people really give much thought to their light switch covers and usually go this route. You can even get a nice looking fancier one for maybe $2.49-ish. However, what if you are looking for something a little more unique? Something to make your entire room come together. You are likely to find what you may be looking for if you go handmade. Of course that may cost a bit more. My individual handmade covers go for $5.99 + s & h. That price may not sound like a lot to most, but to some that sounds like a ridiculous price for a single light switch cover. Before I go into the reason why I price my single covers at this price, I would like to point out that I see some decorative light switch covers (handmade or not) going for a lot more. Like this for example.
$14.95 for ONE single light switch cover! This is also handmade.
My custom package orders usually appear to go for a big chunk of change and I hear comments all the time like "I sure wouldn't pay THAT much for 10 outlet covers!" Well, when it comes down to it, these orders are usually custom made for what a particular customer wants. They want multiple covers in a particular design which takes extra time and some of their covers are a little tricky like this one.
So let's move on to the process of creating these covers shall we? First off, I usually have to go out and purchase light switch covers. I usually have a ton at home here, because I tend to buy a few while I'm out and about. Although I have noticed that the local hardware store has drastically increased the price of standard covers while making them lower quality. I can barely get the darn screws in the holes anymore! As a result, I have started buying the mid sized ones, because they are half the price of the standard ones now and if I REALLY hunt through the pile, I can find a few decent quality ones although they are few and far between which takes up my time. Perhaps I should find another hardware store.
Next, I pick a pattern of fabric I want to use and decide on what I want the cover to look like. Most of the time, it is pretty easy. Small repetitive patterns like the one in the above picture work best, because I don't have to worry about strategic placement of the holes or making sure the whole picture fits on the cover. If it is a larger pattern with larger pictures, then I have to sit there for a while placing the fabric over the cover at different angles trying to find which placement would be most appealing to the eye without destroying it with the holes I need to cut. Like this one for example...
I usually end up painting several at one time, because I make more than one cover at a time. That and I sometimes put this process off until the last minute, because this is another long and tedious process. Mixing the colors to get a close match and then waiting for the paint to dry so I can apply a clear gloss coat to the screws as well. A matte finish wouldn't look right on a cover that shines. Sounds like a silly detail, but look at the difference it makes.
All that work for $5.99 + shipping. Now, I've basically taken you through the process of making just one cover. Imagine now for a custom order of one triple switch cover and 6 outlet covers.
Same with one like this. A custom double light cover and 10 outlet covers for $65.
Well, there you have it. Now that you know the process, does $5.99 still sound outrageous for one single custom handmade light switch cover? When you break it down like that, it is easier to see that I'm not making a huge profit here. It is the same across the board when you are looking to buy handmade. Handmade items are always going to cost more, because of the work that goes into them. Whether you are looking to buy a scarf, a painting, or in this case a light switch cover, it is going to cost more than it would if you just walked in to the local big chain discount store. Those of us who sell handmade products take pride in doing quality work and providing excellent service. We also need to eat. This means these products are going to cost a bit more.