Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cost of Business

I recently had my industrial machines (3 in all) looked after by my guy, Larry.  He has been coming out to my studio for 2 decades and is in his 80's now.  Although retired he will come out to work on them for me, since it gives him something to do and he has been doing it since he was a 14 year old apprentice in England.  He told me that in those days, they didn't go to college as most the families couldn't afford to send their kids and the kids were expected to work to help support the parents as there wasn't social security of any other nature.  
So like sewing is for me; tinkering with these industrial machinations, is second nature for him.  He is getting weaker and I see he is more frail as he had just come from dialysis.  I am so grateful for him and as I told him he has to stick around for another decade or so, and by that time I will be retired.  (Hopefully somewhere warm surrounded by Cabana boys~!)
When I got his bill, I was mildly taken aback as his rates had gone up double and I did not flinch because I know he is worth every penny!  And I am glad to pay it, but the truth of the matter is I almost can no longer afford to work! Prices are rising for me but no one wants to pay more for my services.  The cost of maintaining my valuable industrial machines and the energy to run them along with rising postal prices to send things out and the rising cost of supplies and fabrics is skyrocketing.  People are used to things that are mass produced in China, and at such a cut rate price that it almost doesn't pay to make anything.  It certainly is cheaper to buy something off the rack.  At one time if you wanted to save money you made your own clothes.   People are constantly negotiating me to reduce my prices and usually I relinquish, but to be honest, I have to eat too and I feel like saying, "I am the best in my field.  I am a specialist and a premier sewer.  I will custom make anything and it will fit you like no other garment you can buy off the rack.  It will be one of a kind and no one else will own one just like it.  But you want to pay Wal Mart prices for it?"  Well, forget it!  I have an education in design and I can make patterns and grade them and have been doing all this for over 30 years.  You are paying for my experience and knowledge and close customer service.  What I do is a dying art and well, it just may die, because I can no longer afford to do it and not get paid the money I charge.  I have to get A 'REAL JOB' I guess.  
But my work is more a work of art.  I put a lot of thought time and energy into what I produce.  I often only make small lots of them so they are one of a kind and unique.  I have experience to make a quality product that will stand the test of time.  I have expensive woven labels with my name on them which will most like someday be worth something when I am long gone and people are selling my vintage items on Ebay for ridiculous prices~!  ha ha.
Sorry for venting.  I just had to get that off my chest.  And get back to doing what I do best...making  beautiful things that I hope people will appreciate and treasure for years to come.

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