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Stephen

Going Price Of Mugs

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holy bug poo!  figure i can say it in this thread too.  look at number of sales since she opened.   how did you determine the price, noel, i can't find one.

 

After the item is sold I dont think it list the prices. I check her shop often as I think she does some very different work, when I looked last week they were 125 and 150 depending on the amount of work per mug.

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Yes that is the ideal  And perhaps 2% of the potters can even make more than that.

 

But lets look at that $50 mark then.  Working  50 hours a week would mean $2,500 per week and your producing and selling 40 pieces per week that means you need $70.00 per piece with only $300 in overhead a week.  Now how many people can honestly sell 40 pieces at $70 on the average week?   Sure you could make smaller pieces and spend less time per piece maening can produce 80 pieces and sell them at $35.00 each.   Or you can go with larger pieces that are more intricate and get more money per piece however that will probably mean less pieces per week.

 

 

I'm not sure ... are you trying to say that you are skeptical that it can be done? I think there are people on this forum who have demonstrated they can handle this pace of making and selling. 

 

As far as my own pace goes, I can produce $5000 of work in about 63 hours. That eight 6-hours days of making, and three 5-hour days of glazing. Give or take a few hours. I spread this out over 2.5 weeks so I get regular days off. I don't try to sell pots weekly, but rather about 10-12 shows per year. A show can occupy between 3 to 7 days of my time. In recent years I have been selling just about every pot I make. 

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Gisele wrote ...

 

>I have a studio tour in October that is two weekends here on my home turf. I plan to have lots of demonstrations so they can understand exactly what is going into each and every item.

 

I would suggest that you don't do demos.

People do what they expect to do ... so if they come to watch demos, that is exactly what they will do. Probably also leave the cash and cards in the car. Just like being at a 'Music & Crafts' festival ... They came for the music, not to buy crafts.

 

Part two of course is that people don't care how hard it is or how long it took you. That part is your problem, not theirs. They buy because they like the product not because you worked so hard.

 

Be there ready to talk, smile and sell. Engage, smile, tell your story as often as necessary so people fall in love with the "Why" not the "How". Have a friend there to wrap ... make sure people can pay quickly and get out when they are ready.

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Part two of course is that people don't care how hard it is or how long it took you. That part is your problem, not theirs. They buy because they like the product not because you worked so hard.

 

Agreed! 

 

The amount of time you spend on each piece, and the years you spend developing skills ... these are things you can appreciate about yourself on a personal level. But don't ask your customers to pay for it. 

 

Here's another way to put it ... if you are investing lots of time per pot, and you want to be paid for that time, the overall quality and appeal of the finished piece needs to fetch the price, not the time spent. 

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https://www.etsy.com/shop/SilverLiningCeramics/sold

 

These wacky crystal mugs which are crazy cool are selling for $125-$175 a mug. They do have gold on the handles and in the crystals, which increases the price of the mug and the cost to make it, but she can't even keep them stocked. I find it pretty interesting, thought I would post it here. Since we are having a lot of discussions about price points per work amount.

 

^ This is really interesting.   Especially since they only started doing ceramics in 2010.  AND mostly learned on U tube.   Over 1100 sales ... $200K +.  I think her signature is an excellent example of differentiation ... I've never seen it before, but it may be common.     Most interesting case study.     She's top notch on her social media too.    Personally,  I can't see the price/quality relationship, but that just proves that  I don't understand this girl's strategy about marketing and "art".   I'm very impressed with it TBH.

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Look at the last two pages on her sold list, and you'll see what she initially got famous (?) for. I was coming arcross her on Pinterest about 2-3 years ago for that earlier work, and I seem to recall it being priced in the $40 range. Her social media marketing game is indeed strong. Prime example of putting one's product in front of the right audience.

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I would suggest that you don't do demos.

People do what they expect to do ... so if they come to watch demos, that is exactly what they will do. Probably also leave the cash and cards in the car. Just like being at a 'Music & Crafts' festival ... They came for the music, not to buy crafts.

 

Part two of course is that people don't care how hard it is or how long it took you. That part is your problem, not theirs. They buy because they like the product not because you worked so hard.

 

Be there ready to talk, smile and sell. Engage, smile, tell your story as often as necessary so people fall in love with the "Why" not the "How". Have a friend there to wrap ... make sure people can pay quickly and get out when they are ready.

 

I normally would not do demonstrations, but this particular show is an Open Studio tour. It's a requirement of participating that people are able to come and see a working studio. 

 

I find it hard to believe that people's appreciation does not increase when they see the care and love that goes into handmade items. We are so used to taking everything for granted that we don't even think about the people who design and make the things we use every day. Everything is mass produced and disposable, and completely impersonal. 

 

That last part is easy, I love talking to people in general, and about pottery in particular. :) I have arranged for friends and family members to come in rotating shifts to ring up sales and wrap for me so I can spend time with my visitors.

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I would suggest that you don't do demos.

People do what they expect to do ... so if they come to watch demos, that is exactly what they will do. Probably also leave the cash and cards in the car. Just like being at a 'Music & Crafts' festival ... They came for the music, not to buy crafts.

 

Part two of course is that people don't care how hard it is or how long it took you. That part is your problem, not theirs. They buy because they like the product not because you worked so hard.

 

Be there ready to talk, smile and sell. Engage, smile, tell your story as often as necessary so people fall in love with the "Why" not the "How". Have a friend there to wrap ... make sure people can pay quickly and get out when they are ready.

 

I find it hard to believe that people's appreciation does not increase when they see the care and love that goes into handmade items. We are so used to taking everything for granted that we don't even think about the people who design and make the things we use every day. Everything is mass produced and disposable, and completely impersonal. 

 

Some people care about this, like me for instance. I appreciate a pot that is made by someone who has spent a life time to make it, even though I can't afford them = (. However I would say the mass of people dont. I thought they would, but I was talking to my wife and good friend about it and people just dont care anymore. 

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It's not at all depressing to me because it is just a fact of life.

I don't buy pottery or anything else based on how long it took to make ... how long it takes to produce is the smallest factor in the final buying decision ... And I speak as a person whose work takes a LONG time to produce.

Often I can sell things I make in a few minutes much more easily than pieces I labor over ... but here the time thing works against me because no one wants to hear it only took 5 minutes.

 

Also ... If you have to demo at the show keep them very simple and clean so you can talk to people and can leave the demo if you are needed elsewhere.

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I guess it's not really about the time, except as a measurement of the care and effort I've put into something.

 

I've spent so much on equipment and materials, and I just want to sell some stuff to cover expenses at least. But one slow show doesn't mean it's over! Happy thoughts, happy thoughts!

 

Excellent advice about the demos. I was thinking some carving or slip trailing, I can put that down any time.

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Yeah don't let the slow ones get you down just keep doing them and when you do a good one try and do it again the next year. We are getting ready for the third of 3 back to back weekends and the dough has been all over the place but like Mea Rhea says its to be expected when doing so many first year shows. Our setup is running 3 hours and tear down is 2 so the 2-3 day shows are the best. Did a one day art festival last Saturday and it was pretty brutal day with 10 hours selling and 5 hours of setup/teardown and that's with 2 people.

 

If it was easy everyone would do it :-) 

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Well going back to original subject of Mugs.  let me ask a few questions which I expect a wide variety of answers.

 

1. In a 40 hour work week how many Mugs do you think you can make?

 

On a personal bases I do not do do anything on a potters wheel and mugs would be done as slab built.  I can only make a rough guess at what I could build this way do to limited space.  But If I did the slabs and on one day it would only be about 4 hours work.  I could probably do the assembly of 48 of them the next day in 8 hours.  Then the decorating process of the 48 would probably take about two days for me as I would be doing multiple coats with a brush rather than just dipping the pieces.  Dry time and kilm time I'm not considering as these are process that do not require my time closely monitoring them once they start..  So an estimate would be 48 pieces in about 20 hours or 96 pieces in 40 hours.  However this is more of a production line mass building which would limit my degree of creativity on each individual piece.  So in reality I probably would want to cut this down to about 1/3 or 32 pieces in that 40 hour period to allow more thought and creativity between the varying pieces.

 

2. What percentage of your sales in both pieces as well as dollars would you suspect come from mugs?

 

Presently this falls as Zero's for me as I have created enough quality pieces yet for me to start marketing.  However for others I would supect that the number of mugs would be well over 50% of there pieces sold however on a cash bases  only be a much lower percentage.  This is unless the individual centers there work on mugs almost exclusively.

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I'll go straight to #2, practically 0% sales/dollars. I concede the mug market to other potters. I make vases, ikebana vessels and similar items that other potters tend to not make. A more limited audience, perhaps. But, I often hear comments from shoppers about the uniqueness of items and how different the selection is than other pottery booths. You either have to make a mug that is so different/better quality/better price than anyone one else (and that will differ from person to person) or make a product line that sets you apart.

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1.  If I was only making mugs, I think in ten hours I could probably make 20 mugs start to finish but I would be really bored with that. I only get about ten hours actual studio time per week. My current goal is to consistently make one mug per day average, or 7/week along with other items.

 

2. Looking over my past sales and I can't believe my eyes. This is so useful to me, I love this forum. 

 

Mugs represent only 7.5% of my items sold. Looking at this, I'm wondering why I've been on fire to make mugs? Maybe I should spend that time making tissue box covers instead! They take about the same amount of time to make and decorate and I sell them as fast as I can make them. They sell for 2x - 3x as much as my mugs. Seriously. 

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hooray giselle, you have found your niche!

 

I want to "like" this but I'm out of likes! 

 

I feel so free right now. The idea that I can make things and NOT have to worry about handles makes me feel like I just got out of jail. Why did I put myself in that box?!

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0% sales/dollars from mugs.  I only do slab.   Our production target is $3500/week.   Last year was 100% sell through (production $2500/week).  Sales are pointing towards 2015 being another sell out year.  NO mugs in the production line.   I'll throw 20-30 mugs a year for fun (None this year so far :) )   I've heard about making mugs from slabs and from extrusions.   And there are always molds (I've never poured one mold).  I might add mugs ... one day.

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It's funny reading this thread. Cause my whole plan is to sell nothing but mugs and cups on etsy when I finally get a product I feel is ready to sale.

 

I love making mugs, probably more than any other form, and the handle is just icing on the cake. But if you don't like making them, I sure wouldn't make them. I don't like making plates, so I don't make them. I think when I finally get around to wanting to make plates, I am just going to slump or hump mold them.

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Stephen, that's a brutal setup and tear down.

yeah, we bought a festival display setup from a small company out of Arkansas that takes a while to pull together. It is very sturdy and has nice tote bags for the parts but the whole thing takes a good hour to unload and assemble. By the time we unload, put up the tent, put up signs, find water for and attach the leg weights, assemble the display and un-wrap about 350 pieces of pottery and arrange pots, table and tent for sale with 2 of us working fairly steady its about 3 hours from start to finish. We could probably cut as much as hour off of it if we absolutely had to but it would be pretty miserable working at that pace. We are changing to boxes with card board dividers to try and make the boxing and un-boxing not require any wrap. Hoping this will trim half an hour or more off the process. In a perfect world, with two of us working, I would love to see an hour and a half set-up and an hour take down but doubt we will ever get to that.

 

We've always had plenty of mugs and they have so far been a big part of sales but I guess if they were not plentiful many of the customers who have bought them may have bought other types of pots. It just seems like a lot of people are drawn to the mugs and they often buy other things as well.  

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3 hours sounds like a normal amount of setup time to me. I do have a quicker setup for one-day shows, which involves a lightweight pop-up canopy (instead of the sturdier canopy), no walls, and less furniture. My one-day setup takes about 1.5 hours.

 

Another potter once told me that his setup took 7 hours, with two people working on it. I couldn't imagine why they did not try to rethink it.

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Because i mostly do one day shows (still new!) I have a pretty streamlined setup that takes me about an hour. Minimal furniture and a lightweight tent with cinder block weights. Classy, I know. But for one day outdoor shows, fussy isn't the order of the day. Currently working on a design for a 10x10 booth that will have a better look, and an actual budget.

 

Yes, back to mug prices!

I can throw about 40-50 mugs working steadily in about 4 hours and attach handles the next day. The clay needs time to set up between.

According to Square dashboard, I made 47% of my sales this year off mugs.

I need to stress I am new, and my business model needs help.

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Personally, I love to make mugs, and in fact, mugs, cups, and bowls make up most of what I throw.  I haven't made a vase in 20 years, even though bud vases were quick and easy to make and sold well (maybe that's changed.)  I imagine that if I were depending on my pots to pay the rent, I might take a less purist view, but for now I'm only really interested in making objects that people will use daily in such personal settings as the kitchen and home.

 

That preference was likely fostered by our family's devotion to good food and fairly formal dining habits.  Our kids always had to sit down at the kitchen table if they wanted dinner, and cooking was a large part of our amusements.  (Our oldest is now a sous chef in NYC.)  Our cupboards are stuffed full of bowls and mugs that either had some minor flaw or that my wife liked well enough to keep.

 

Anyway, the point I'm laboriously getting around to is that the business of making a production decision is not all accounting.  If you don't like mugs, you shouldn't make them even if your time and materials analysis shows you that doing so would be profitable.  If you don't want to make soap dishes, you probably shouldn't, even if that would be very profitable.  Why?  Because our studios are not factories.  Because what most of us seem to be doing is trying to make art, not just a living.  Art is something that is hard to fake; if you don't really like those soap dishes, you won't put into them whatever mysterious thing it is that makes an object worth making by hand.  That lack of love will show, and sales will suffer.

 

I think this notion is related to the ideas John and others have put forward about making what you want and finding a specific market rather than making what you believe the general market wants.  That process does narrow the pool of customers, and sometimes they can be harder to locate.  But by making what you want to make, you have an advantage over the craftsperson who is only making whatever he or she thinks will sell. 

 

That advantage will inevitably become visible in the worth of the work you do.

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