A couple months ago, I read this article on Pyragraph from Danielle Vincent of Outlaw Soaps about pricing your items right. This is the third year I've been deeply involved with the little shoes, and I've been struggling to find a perspective that allows me to feel less defined by my baby shoemaking. Part of this struggle with my identity is due to my addiction to words, reading and writing them and acting them out. A lot of this struggle is related to it. Do I want this to be the defining thing? I use the word "defining" because most of my free time is going to sewing instead of indulging in my primary interests.
Anyway, I read that article, and while I've been viewing what I've been doing (sewing for a million fucking hours a week) as a job, I haven't been treating the whole thing like a business. Mainly meaning I've been paying myself the wages of a hobbyist. Hobbyists work for free. For negative, actually, since it's a damn hobby they invest their money and time. I did some calculations and realized I was making about $5/hr. All the terrible feelings about this defining me is obviously because I've been treating myself like crap.
How to stop this? I don't want to increase my prices too much. Right now, my shoes are $25-$35, depending on size and style. I want to keep that price point, but figure out how to manage my time a little better. Previously, I've shared the joys of working with a toddler. It's pretty much impossible to get anything done without being interrupted at least once every eight minutes. Except when I'm sitting here blogging. It's as if my kid can tell I'm doing something unimportant so she leaves me alone.
Here are some things I've been implementing since I realized I've been hiring myself with shitty pay:
1. Make at least one of the same item in one go. If I get an order online for one pair of shoes, I'll make a second pair at the same time for the market. A single pair of shoes is two hours work. Magically, two pairs of shoes is also two hours work.
2. Let my kid wreck the house instead of taking breaks to clean up her disaster. She gets to trash the house all day, sees that I don't care, and is thus less compelled to destroy. Also, I get at least an hour of time from letting this happen.
3. Order in bulk. I thought my costs were pretty minimal, but when I realized I could buy elastic in huge quantities, I started considering what else I could buy in a huge amount to cut costs over the course of a season. This is something I never considered for the first two years because of how little I was making. Since a few months ago, when I decided I should stop slaving away at my machine and instead fight for fair wages, something about my new attitude increased my business and I can actually afford to buy in bulk. Huh.
4. Whatever I am doing, I do. If I imagine I am at work, I feel a little more like I am at a job where I'd probably get written up for wasting company time. If I imagine I am a professional reader, I read and read and read until I have been sucked up into said book and only an insufferable tempertraumatic toddler can pull me from the depths of fiction. Or non-fiction.
One thing I have been considering is a new sleep schedule. Not too different from my current one, but perhaps it will allow me to do the things I love to do late at night. I envision myself drinking a beer and writing each night from about ten til midnight, then making some tea and going to sleep. Then, I awake at 7AM and make myself oatmeal and I am so busy I don't feel lonely. Just full of books and words and tiny shoes and the occasionally demeaning acting job.
I want to live each of my lives exceedingly well, all at once, while incubating more babies. For now, I think the house has to go. Except for the reading chair. That must remain accessible, free of shredded trash and yogurt.
My kid doesn't care so much about me blogging that I've wandered from my topic.
I'll write myself up for taking too long of a paid break.
Where I get wasted and write these posts.