Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Handmade Natural Discount Dolls - ???


Hands of the dollmaker at work...

The title of today's blog post is an oxymoron. Handmade and discount don't go together, do they? If there ever was a combination of contradictory or incongruous words - this is it in my book!

There are days I get letters via email that make me quite frustrated and sad. What letters? It's the type of letter inquiring about buying my dolls at a discounted rate. I just received another one the other day. They usually go something like this:

"I really love your work. Your dolls are so amazing and truly unique. I would love to order a number (one of each skin tone maybe) of them to

a) sell them in my online/brick and mortar shop
b) give one to each of my kids, nieces, and nephews
c) put them in my brandnew daycare

How much of a discount could I get if I bought 3 or 4 of your dolls?"


Sigh! How does one answer them politely? On the one hand, of course, one desperately needs business, and I would love to sell a large quantity of anything. But it's not like I am a machine and can whip out 3 or 4 dolls faster by producing them in large quantities. Each doll takes about 8-10 hours. Please, see my blog post on "How long does it take to make a German Doll?"

Trust me, I have looked at it from all angles. Even if I got my supplies for free - mind you I use organic dollskin and sheepswoll of the highest quality - I could not charge less money per doll. My hourly wages are something I try not think about too much or I'd get totally depressed. I have not managed to hire a herd of stay-at-home mommies and grannies to sew and knit for me, nor do I run a little sweatshop over here. I do every single stitch myself! From the tiniest needle felted doll shoe decoration to top the top of the head, my dolls are made by your's truly. I am not sure why my unique handmade Waldorf style dolls don't fetch over $2000 on Ebay yet. I suppose I have to work on becoming a fad...


I make dolls because I love making them. I make dolls because I love receiving pictures of happy kiddos playing with a unique doll I created especially for them. Hopefully, when you browse my virtual Etsy and Artfire store shelves you will find something that makes your heart sing - the way mine does when I create my little works of art.

16 comments:

Saints and Spinners said...

I suspect that most people think that it doesn't hurt to ask. Gentle education on a case by case basis may be the way to go: "Thank you so much for your interest in my dolls! Because of the detailed handmade nature of my dolls, I am unable to provide discounts. Please be assured that the high quality materials plus hours of careful attention to detail combine to make each doll a wonderfully unique companion your child will cherish for years." Perhaps something less wordy?! :)

MadelineT said...

I politely respond back that because I make everything one at a time by hand, I am not able to offer discounts or sell wholesale.
No exceptions. I do, however, occasionally send special customers extras (very small gifts).
These misguided potential customers are not insulting us, they just do not understand our realities. Probably someone has given them a discount in the past and they are just asking in case we might also.

germandolls said...

I wondered who Madelin T. was, Eve...

softearthart said...

Yes, I feel people have lost the awareness of Handmade,and just do not realize the time involved, thanks for your thoughts on this. cheers Marie

Folky Dots said...

You expressed this exactly like I think it. It does take time to make a doll, do her hair just right and dress her to fit her "personality" as a unique creation.

I've been asked several times for discounts and I always feel put on the spot. I've also been asked to donate a doll twice and I've been asked by 2 different blog owners to give them a doll and they would write a review of my product. My business is too small right now to just give a doll for review and any dolls that I "donate" I've given to handicapped children at my church.

I guess it comes down to doing what I can to be kind and giving but also remembering that while I love to make dolls and doll clothes, I'm also helping my husband with the money I make from my business. I help buy groceries and gas and pay for much needed braces.

germandolls said...

I wonder if part of the reason that dollmakers get asked this question so much lies in the nature of our work. Needlework is women's art and has always been less valued than painting. I don't see people walking into an art gallery and asking if they could get a discount if they bought 5 pieces by a certain artist. Or am I wrong?

BirchLeaf Designs - Wendy and Mojo said...

That's a tough one! It is so very true, a handmade item takes just as long to make one as it does 10...

I guess those willing to support handmade will understand what it takes and pay the fare knowing they will get a truely unique and heirloom item!

Natalie/Woolhalla said...

I think there's a gap where buyers are so used to cheap goods that they don't realise that creators can't buy groceries making 15 cents an hour in north america/europe. *sigh*

FeeVertelaine said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Mare said...

That is a good point you make with the art gallery/painting comment, and maybe if you explained it that way, they would get it. I think most folks have gotten used to buying cheap mass produced toys and dolls in the stores at the malls, and don't even THINK about what it takes to make a doll of the high quality that you make. Even with my knitted dolls and toys, i have been asked if i could make 3 or 4 say, by next week!!!! Even if i never slept i could not do that. People who don't make these things have no idea how long it takes and how much of your heart goes into them. Oh well....

FeeVertelaine said...

Ulla,
I totally agree with your post :)
I'm a doll maker too and I think that handmade doll are soOoo precious. It take so many hours to create one doll that the only way you can do it is trought LOVE, she is filled with love totally !! I always hope that the child is going to 'get' that energy and that the doll is going to bring comfort, peace and maybe even healing. Again handmade doll value is inestimable....your work is worthed every penny xx

J said...

Ulla I totally agree! Discounts aside I make pennies, sometimes I lose money when I do custom orders, I certainly can't afford to take any more money off the price. I think it is unfortunate that wholesale prices are inevitably 1/2 of retail pricing, making it impossible for most handmade businesses to ever do wholesale at all. I would put a little disclaimer in your shop policies stating your position on discounts & then you can just refer people who email you asking to your policies.
Thankfully people like that are balanced by customers who think they are getting a crazy good deal when they get something handmade to last for decades!

LittleElf said...

I totally feel this way! I get requests for discounts constantly. Unfortunately, I have needed the sale so badly I have given discounts and barely broke even on some things.

Your dolls are Beautiful Ulla, I just love their little dresses too! ^_^

germandolls said...

The worst is when you get a custom order and the sale falls through in the end. I try to always get paid before I start on an order. But sometimes one gets carried away... I have had huge orders fall through and got stuck with items I custom made for somebody who then changed their mind. Do they ever realize how much they hurt us when we worked for days on something that we never got paid for?

Britta said...

Hi Ulla,

I totally understand. But those questions usually come from people who have never made anything with their own hands... Otherwise they would understand. I love showning my quilts to friends but dread the moment they ask: "Oh, ca you you just make one for me," expecting it's a $150 max affair, including material, of couse. As said, these kind of quetions can only come from people who work 9-5 in some office who are so removed from the quality of their/our hand-made work that they do not know any better.... So, don't worry too much about it. Saints and Spinners suggestion sounds vry diplomatic...

Greetings from the alte Heimat,
Britta

germandolls said...

Danke, Britta! Immer schoen von Dir zu hoeren! =)