Friday, January 29, 2016

Inflation. Thy Name Is 'Merica.

The Time I've Been Dreading Has Come...

What I wouldn't give for an angel investor. Wings of gold that drop feathers everywhere. A leaky halo of cash couldn't hurt. It's not easy trying to build a business on your own when you've started with practically nothing. Dark Side Customs was started with $100 and the hope that I could build something beautiful. It's become a lot more complicated than that. 

I've been keeping my prices as low as I can because I remember what it feels like to see something I absolutely love and not being close to able to afford it. It's heartbreaking. Have you ever felt that? Then you are my people.

What does it take?

Some say looking successful is half the battle. Well... in an economy like ours, that battle will take quite a few more weapons to win. As a (mostly) one man operation, I'm designing product, manufacturing product, photographing product, editing photographs, writing copy, posting listings, marketing product, practically begging to be noticed, and feeling the sting when no one is buying.

Some say it takes money to make money. But what you you have no money? Not too many people think about the money spent by the artists when looking at the final product. In America, it's all about getting the bargain. I'm not going to go into actual numbers. But let's look at what I have to do on my end.

  1. I have to buy my tools.
  2. I have to buy my metals
  3. I have to buy my gemstones.
  4. I have to buy gas and oxygen for my torch on a regular basis.
  5. I have to buy my leather.
  6. I have to buy leather dye.
  7. I have to buy packaging materials like envelopes, bubble wrap, boxes, bags, etc.
  8. I have to pay for miscellaneous materials like bead wire, acrylic, chemicals, etc.
  9. I have to pay for each and every listing.
  10. I have to pay to renew the listings when items don't sell after a time.
  11. I have to buy displays for events.
  12. I have to pay to vend at events.
  13. I have to pay for electricity to run my lights and tools.
  14. I have to pay for the place in which I work. 
  15. I have to pay myself a wage for my work. (Something I've been neglecting for a long time.)
  16. I have to pay for childcare so I can actually have time to work.
  17. I have to pay for phone and internet in order to do business.
  18. I have to pay for gas, tolls, and insurance on the vehicle that gets me to vending events.
  19. I have to pay for marketing and advertising. 
  20. I have to pay for web hosting.
  21. I have to pay taxes. (That's a big pain in the... nevermind.)
  22. I have to pay for casting and other services I don't yet have the tools for.
  23. I have to pay for sales help. (That's every once in a while.)
  24. I have to pay for lodging at events away from home.
  25. I have to pay for photography equipment in order to photograph my product.
  26. I have to pay a portion of each online sale to Etsy even after paying for the listing.
  27. I have to pay a portion of every credit card sale to Square for in person purchases.
  28. I have to pay for postage/shipping on all online sales. (Much more than a simple stamp.)
  29. I have to take time out to write these blogs. (Time is Money. I never realized how true that was until I started trying to run a business.)
There's more. I just won't get too crazy with this list. The costs for all of these things goes up all the time. But you can see that there is a lot more going on in the background than most people ever think about when they say insulting things like: 
  • How much will you give me off if I buy two?
  • I can get this online for less.
  • You can cut me a break, right?
  • Will you take... (enter amount far less than the price of the item here)?
  • I could have made this.

Here's something I found just moments before I finished typing this post. It explains a lot. I think everyone should watch. I'm trying to figure out just how to apply it to my work.

(You Should Totally Subscribe To David Picciuto's YouTube)

So what's next?

No beating around the bush. Prices are going to have to rise. I've put it off for so long. So many people have told me that I need to raise my prices. They tell me I need to charge more because my work is worth more. I've just been so worried about people not being able to afford my work that I've been making the big mistake of making it so that I can barely afford to stay in business.

A few of my friends - people more successful in business than I - have gone out of business after the disaster that was 2015. They were fellow event vendors. Part of the issue was that they weren't charging enough for they're work. Not charging enough actually had the opposite effect of what you might think. Charging too little actually stopped people from buying. Couple that with the fact that attendance was at an all time low for a great many of the shows we did throughout the year... DISASTER.

I guess it's time to light a fire under my backside. I'll see you on the Dark Side.

Speaking of FIRE

It's time to focus on another of those inspirational people I've encountered along my journey.

Michelle Greenwood is an amazing artist, first rate pyrographer, a true inspiration, and a friend.

What is a pyrographer? Let's take a look at this. “Pyro” = fire; “Graphy” = writing. Pyrography means, literally, “fire-writing.” Pyrography, also called woodburning, is done with a tool similar to a soldering iron. (I kinda stole that from her sight. She said it a bit more eloquently than I would have.) One look at her work will leave you breathless. It's all done by hand. It's all imbued with the spirit of love.

Whenever I catch a glimpse of her works in progress, I feel an overwhelming urge to hone my own craft. Then I see the finished pieces. It's Pyromantic Genius from the hands of a Fire Goddess. Don't take my word for it. See for yourself.

“Tales of Beedle the Bard” Faux Book Box - From

A little from the artist:

I hold degrees in Japanese and Creative Writing, but art always has been, and probably always will be, my passion. I also dabble in costuming, pen and ink, and embroidery, but I like pyrography the best.

I enjoy pushing the boundaries of what is traditionally considered “pyrographic art,” using the medium to render themes that are unusual for the art form, and constantly testing and improving my skills and techniques.

Also, fire.

Most of my pieces are of a Pagan or Earth-centered theme. However, I love both history and re-imagined histories (like steampunk), and frequently work with those themes as well.

While I find the raw materials in many different places, all of the work you see has been hand-drawn and hand-burned by me. I don’t use any routers, engravers, or laser-etching machines.

What does this mean to you? This means that your piece, even if it is a pattern that I have burned a hundred times before, is going to be unique. No one will ever have exactly the same piece you have.

Every piece is a one of a kind work of art.

Check her out.

You can find more of Michelle's masterpieces by clicking one of the links below:

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