As I'm new to millinery I'm still to learn afew things, well Alot, but my biggest concern is how to I determine how much to sell a hat for? Is there a method used to work this out?

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I'm a beginner too and have mostly been making/selling to family and friends who are always very kind!    Not getting direct feedback from others directly does affect my confidence in my product.  Recently, I was approached by a local store selling products from beginning designers.  They were incredibly positive about my hats (and headbands) and I have 14 hats and 10 headbands there on consignment.   They've only been open a week though, so time will tell I guess. 

I've not had much success on-line - which may be that my hats are not quirky enough to get attention or that my photography skills are not up to it!  Pricing too is important.  I think a lot of on-line buyers have the mindset of getting a bargain - and if I price properly - that's not going to happen. 

I'm going to do millinery study this semester - at our local technical college, so hopefully my lecturer will be able to give me feedback.  I also wondered about taking some of my hats to up-market fashion stores, but I haven't done that yet.   I'm also aware that by the time the store put's their markup on the hat, the price increases even more.

Really nice to talk to you - I think we have the same issues!   Oh, and Elaine, I love this website!!

Since I have been pricing lower, I have another question.  I did inch some of my prices up, not near what I should have, but what would be the best way to raise my prices without making it look like I have suddenly decided my work is twice what I have been pricing it. Should I leave current hats priced as is and just gradually raise the prices as I list or edit all my prices at one time?  I am not a large volume seller now, having sold 16 hats since I opened my Etsy shop the end of January, but as a new milliner, I want to be fair to myself without shooting myself in the foot, you might say. I do understand that much of it depends on finding the right market and marketing to it. I also understand that while new to millinery, I am not new to design, etc. and should be able to charge more than rock bottom prices.

So happy to be reading about pricing.  I started some three years ago and still have an issue with pricing.  Needless to say, my husband also says that I am seriously undercharging, but I do so for fear that I may not have anyone to buy from me.  It's about time we knew what we were worth, if nothing at all, charging enough to cover the amount of hours we put into a creative piece.

Maybe we could post a few of our designs and each of us attempt to price it?  Hopefully this will motivate us .....

When I was a florist we worked on a basic system where all stock was priced plus tax and 150%. this gave you profit on your stock and covered waste and cost of delivery. Personal cost for making was worked out from your cost to live. Add mortgage, bills, grocery, car, everything that you pay for in life. Work it out as a weekly cost to you. Then decide how many hours a week you would like to work. divide cost by hours and you have the basic cost you need to make to live. Now double it. this gives you a profit on top. When you make your design you have your materials cost plus hours to give you minimum cost to sell. You can round up and as you get more experienced add 10% each year to bring your profit up but not shock clients. This is how I started pricing my work.  Also my tip is if you pick up a bargain in a sale maybe still charge the client how much it would have cost you full price. Saves on them coming back later saying X cost 5 but now costs 10. 

Hi all - I know that this is an old thread, but I am struggling quite a bit with this lately and need to vent!

I am also relatively new to millinery, and have pieces in two local stores on a consignment basis. By the time the store takes their commission, you could say that I am making a loss on each sale.

In my local area there are quite a few milliners with more emerging all the time due to the local TAFE college now offering a millinery course, so it is getting quite competitive. I am trying not to price myself out of the market, because people just won't pay what it really costs to make a piece. As it is they grumble about the prices I am charging now, which are barely covering costs.

Lately I have been requested to make quite a few custom pieces. As you know, supplies are expensive (especially feathers and jinsin etc) and pieces are very time consuming to make. I've been keeping a worksheet on what these pieces actually cost me and it really is staggering when you see it on paper! I know that I am underpricing myself on these pieces, but again, I just won't get the business through the door if I charge properly for materials and time. My theory is that once I establish a name for myself I may be able to start pricing more realistically, and may even be able to make more sales directly via my website at more of a profit rather than losing up to 50% commission on each sale. Although I do appreciate the exposure that having pieces in stores gives me, that's for sure and will continue to do both.  In the meantime however I am sending myself broke.  Lucky I enjoy millinery so much!

What is a reasonable hourly rate for a beginner (only 2 years experience)?

Vent officially over :)

I'm only 3 months in Leah so I haven't sold any pieces yet and really can't answer your question. I just wanted to say that your pieces are beautiful.

Hi Leah

I'm relatively new to millinery too, but I have a background in managing businesses.  I've come to the conclusion that some milliners are undercharging so much as to damage the industry.  

I am possibly one of the potential problems in that I am probably more of a hobbyist now (i.e. I'm retired and don't have to support myself through my Millinery) and it would be easy for me to undercharge for my work - but I really try not to.  

In my opinion, every beautiful hat out there - that we create with such dedication - needs to be sold for its true worth.  It is up to us to educate people as to what a good, beautifully made hat is - and what a high degree of skill professionalism costs.

I have a spreadsheet for every hat.  I list (a) all the material costs (right down to little things, like thread) plus packaging and postage; then (b), a flat rate for my on-costs/overheads such as asset purchase (e.g. blocks, equipment, etc) power, rates etc. (I work from home) and then, (c) my time.  I cost my time at AU$20.00 per hour, as I believe I don't have the experience to charge any more yet - and in the main, I charge for 3-4 hours work, depending on the hat.  I am also a bit slow, so some hats may take more than this - but that's a problem with my skills, and I don't believe the customer should have to pay for this.   What I get the total of a, b, and c, I then add 50%.  This is my wholesale price.

I have most of my pieces on consignment at a local shop - who then put another 30% commission on top.  I charge the same price as the shop when I list on Etsy, but offer free postage within Australia.

I have the same problem as you in that I'm not completely covering the real time it takes to make a hat and 50% doesn't seem much commission.  Especially when you know that some in the clothing industry are getting 100-200%!!   But, this does give me room to increase this percentage over time - when I get better at what I do.  

The main thing is not to LOSE money.  We MUST cover a, b and c  with every hat in order to break even.  Any less and we might as well give our hats away - as we'll go broke eventually.

This is my little rant !!  :)   Hope it helps!

Oh, and like Melissa - I LOVE your hats - they are definitely worth top dollar!


Thanks for sound advice.

Only extra thought Leah -  expand your borders - think of area within 2 hrs courier delivery where population have good income as they have fluid cash you are after. Definitely too high on 50/50 deal with on consignment.

Repeat orders are vital. Are you keeping data base of clients emails so that every time you finish say 10 pieces you share with them firstly at a loyalty price or free shipping. We are creatives and marketing not easy for any of us.

I have just done media interview when I am trying to slow down but took about 3 yrs before they found me first time. Now is time to go on local radio for interview about fashion trends and it is free. Network to find a contact or phone them up offering a service for their listeners to share all the excitement about forthcoming Cup day.  With 6 deep breaths You can do - E

Oh thank you for your advice,words of wisdom and kind words!

I thought the consignment agreement was excessive, and yes, to cover costs is definitely a must.  I have had some success selling on Etsy and also directly via my website, but haven't had the time to dedicate to the marketing side of things (I also work full time) which would increase traffic through these areas.

I have a few repeat customers and am just starting to build a database now, but the special loyalty offers are a fantastic idea which I will try now that I am building my list, thank you.

Funny you should mention the radio - I was featured on the local TV news tonight, as part of a Spring Racing carnival feature for one of the clothing stores, so definitely good publicity for sure.

I shall just keep doing what I love doing, and no doubt my hard work will start paying off.  I am however going to have to increase my prices, and the last thing I want to do is damage the millinery industry in general by pricing too low.

Thanks again for all your helpful advice - this forum has been a godsend for me and I'm sure for other milliners too, and it is so great to learn from all of your valuable experience.

Leah xx

Thought you would enjoy this quoted passage-

"There is an old story about Mr. John back in the 40's who made a hat out of ribbon much like our fascinators today and charged an astronomical amount of money for the piece. When the client heard how much the piece was....she freaked. So he took it apart told her how much the ribbon was and basically said you make it. For other clients for the same look they gladly paid it. It is all about where you want be and how you perceive your work......"

Found this blog on a craft site...

1. Price With The Head
Let’s start with the most basic of tools – the formula. I promise it’s not too scary!
I have found many formulas out there. The most fundamental and basic one is probably this:

Cost Price (labour + price of materials) x 2 = Wholesale

Wholesale x 2 = Retail

So, what does this mean to me, and you? Well, say you have a labour cost of $20 per hour (think about how much you could live on if this was your full-time business!). And your materials cost for an item was $5. Lets say I made a pair of earrings that took 1/2 an hour.

$20 x .5 = $10 labour + $5 materials = $15.

$15 x 2 = $30 = Wholesale Price

Now, if you want to make a profit – which is the amount you have to grow and re-invest in your business - you should double this amount for Retail, which equals $60. (By the way, the retail price is what you should be selling for online, and at markets.)

Sounds like a lot, hey?

But, in professional handmade business circles, this is standard practice. It is difficult for those of us who do this as a hobby to look at it like this sometimes – and when you’re competing with people who sell at a price that doesn’t even begin to come near their true costs, you might feel like you’re being greedy.
Remember – hobbyists aren’t trying to make a living out of selling their craft – they’re just trying to cover materials costs and maybe get a little extra on the side. That is how they can afford to charge so little – their livelihood is not relying on this money!

Also – if you’re selling internationally – and especially if you’re selling in another currency in some places (for example, I still sell in USD on Etsy because I’ve found through experimentation that listing prices in AUD puts off my American customers from buying, but it doesn’t bother Aussies to buy in USD) you need to take exchange rates/paypal fees/paypal currency conversion fees etc into account

When you graduate from a hobbyist to a business, you’re going to need to re-think your pricing. Starting with a simple formula like the one above is an excellent start… but it’s not the end of the story. Once you know mathematically what you should be pricing, you need to turn around and look at your price from another perspective.


Second chapter from the Craft blog...

2. Price with the Heart

There’s more to price than the basic in and out formula. Why do you think Apple has such a huge profit margin compared to other tech companies?
It ain’t because their materials and labour costs are way lower. No, it’s because they’ve built a brand that enables them to charge twice as much for pretty much the exact same technology as their competitor – and their customers are not only happy to pay, they’re ravenous, raving fans, just dying to drop another wad of $$ on the new model eye-phone, even when their ‘old’ one works just fine, thank you very much!

That, my friends, is the power of branding, and that is where pricing with the heart comes in.
You need to start looking at your brand from the outside – through the eyes of your customer. Visit your shop and pretend you have never been there before. That it’s just a shop you’ve stumbled upon while browsing Etsy. Even better, pretend you’ve stumbled across your band on a stand-alone website, or in a retail store! (Etsy can sometimes have the issue of making people expect artificially low prices.)

What does it say to you?

Does it say ‘professional artisan’?
Does it say ‘high-quality craftsmanship’?
Does it say ‘unique, exclusive design’?
Does your brand scream ‘cheap’ or does it scream ’boutique’?
I want you to be intentionally blind to the prices – blind to the fact that you make these things. I want you to pretend you’ve never made one of your whatevers, and that you don’t have the skill or the inclination to make it.

What would you expect to pay for it? What would you be willing to pay for it?

Take this to another level. Are you even your target customer? Because hey, maybe your target customer is someone who is willing to pay WAY more for your whatever than you would. What might someone really be willing to pay for your wares?

A good way to research this is to show your product to friends or family. Especially those who are a little bit removed from what you make. Ask them – ‘if you saw this in a shop, what would you expect to pay for it’? You might be surprised.

I’d like to let you in on a little secret.

I actually raised my prices 2 times last year. The first was a small, 10% rise in April. The second was a much more dramatic rise in September (and honestly, I have to thank Megan’s talk at the Artful Biz Con for finally giving me the push I needed to take that step).

For example: at this time last year, I was a pair of sterling silver earrings for $22 ($22!! I seriously can’t believe that figure now – SO low!). Then it was $25. Now it is $35, and I’m much more comfortable that I’m on the right track with my pricing. Another atrisan would probably tell me off – tell me I should be charging about $60 retail for them – but I’m not quite there yet! Like I said at the beginning, you’re never ‘done’ with pricing.

In the first 2 months of 2013, I sold around the same volume of jewellery on Etsy as I did this same time last year. (I sold a lot more overall this year because the business on my own website is much, much higher now). However, guess what? My revenue – the money I earnt – from those same volume of sales? It’s DOUBLE what I earnt last year. Therein lies the power in raising your prices to what you and your work is worth.

Not only that? I am much more comfortable with my prices now. I am a professional artisan. This is my livelihood. I have years of skill and practice. I make an excellent, quality product. And my prices reflect that.

Do yours?



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