We love handmade. Our crafts are ‘made with love.’ And so many of us start selling our crafts so we can make a living doing what we love.
But does loving the work we do mean it’s worth any less? Too many crafters sell their goods without giving themselves a ‘living wage.’ If the work you love can’t pay you at least £6.31 an hour after material costs, are the other benefits worth it? Are the highs worth the lows of getting paid less than minimum wage to deal with accounting, taxes, National Insurance, marketing, and an incredibly competitive market?
NO. The highs don’t make up the numbers. Love doesn’t pay the bills. Crafting and designing is worth a living wage.
There is value in the work you do that goes beyond it being work that you love. (Enough that you’re willing to pour blood, sweat, and tears into it. Now that is love.) Sometimes we forget that.
We say, “By supporting my work you’re helping me continue to do the work I love.”
What would we say if a lawyer tried to market themselves that way?
“You should be my client and let me defend you in court because it’s work I love.”
Or a butcher?
“You should buy the meat I’ve butchered because it’s work I love.” (Now doesn’t that come off the wrong way, even if it’s true?)
If the only value of handmade or indie-designed work was the love, no one would be buying it. Why buy love from a stranger when you can get it from family and friends?
We buy handmade and indie-designed because of skillful work, beautiful design, styles we like, and the values we care about. And yes, because it does feel a bit good to support the work of someone who lovingly created something that suits our tastes. Plus, many of us love work that isn’t outsourced to underpaid factory workers.
But are underpaid crafters and designers in Britain so different?
Business isn’t always straightforward. It’s not make + sell = profit. If what you’re doing isn’t working, you have to change tactics.
What can change? You can change your business faster than you can change market conditions.
Handmade and hand-designed is worth it. We have to find a balance that works.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this. What works for you?