But why does handmade cost more than Kmart?

Liona Lee

Yesterday I saw a comment on another maker's post that got me thinking. The maker had posted a pic of their original acrylic earring design and someone had commented that they loved the earrings but asked why they were "so expensive". Eww.

As makers we can't help but feel insulted by questions and comments like this! How dare people undermine our hard work! Can you imagine someone coming in to your workplace and saying "you don't deserve your pay" or "you aren't worth the wage you're being paid"?! No? Yeah didn't think so.

On the other hand, it made me think that these comments are based on people not being educated on the difference between $4 Kmart earrings and earrings hand crafted by an Australian maker. And what are those differences you ask? Well, let me enlighten you!

Firstly, if you design your own acrylic earrings then you need to use a computer program to draw them and then turn them into a file that the laser cutter recognises to be able to cut the shapes out of acrylic. BUT if you can't/don't design on a computer program yourself, then you need to outsource to a graphic designer. THIS ALL COSTS MONEY!

Secondly, if you don't own your own laser cutting machine (because they are very expensive to buy $$$$$$!) then you have to outsource to a company that will cut your design for you. Believe it or not - THIS COSTS MONEY!

Then there's the glue, jump rings, tassels, earring posts and backs, business cards, postage boxes and packaging. And having a website isn't free either. That's a monthly fee to sell online or a fee per item sold on places like Etsy, to be considered along with all the other costs too. Making to sell is BLOODY EXPENSIVE!

ALL of the above examples mean these costs need to be built into your prices so you actually make money from what you are making and selling. As much as we would love to be making for love not money to get our designs out there, and as much as we try to keep costs down, to make our products affordable for you, sometimes it's unavoidable that a cost has to be passed on to you. Everyone has to be paid along the way before you have the finished product.

And Kmart? A factory of workers in China, Thailand, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Vietnam on the legal minimal wage have made your $4 earrings and Kmart have bought them in bulk quantities to get the price so damn low! Don't get me wrong - I love Kmart. But it puts into perspective the difference between them and us.

Direct from the Kmart website:
"We have committed to work with our partners to achieve a living wage for factory workers. A living wage is the minimum income necessary for a person to meet their basic needs as well as that of his/her family, including some discretionary income."

But another online article states about Kmart: "In Bangladesh, the legal minimum wage is only 30 per cent of what's required to live a decent life. In Australian terms, these workers are earning 39 cents an hour."

"It means workers who staff the factories - mostly women - live in poverty in crowded, dangerous and unhygienic slums. The working day is extremely long and these women will work 14 hours or more, six days a week."

We ARE those factory workers, as makers of products ourselves. And a 39c wage for our effort, time and money spent to create our products just doesn't cut it, as I'm sure you can understand!

Next time you go to comment on a maker's post about the cost of their work - PLEASE THINK AGAIN.





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