{VEIL GIVE-AWAY!} Designer vs. Artisan? You Decide. 
Monday, February 6, 2012 at 7:49AM
Louise in Contest, Give-Away, TruLu Couture, Veils

*DEEP BREATH* OK, I think I’m going to get my teeth knocked in for this post, but you know that’s never stopped me before. I do want to preface this with the fact that  I started this little give-away/contest as a personal project. I wanted to just see. For you to understand why I did what I did, you might need to read this first. They are definitely related.

If you don't care to read my ramblings on this project, just look at the pictures and scroll down to enter. But if you are even just a teeny tiny little bit of  a conscientious bride, you should read.  I'm just sayin.....

Got the gist of things? Good, let’s move on.

This is how it started: I got lost on the internet again, ended up on Pinterest again, which took me to a picture from BHLDN.com. It was a picture of their  Dotted Voile Veil. It cost $160 and I thought that was pretty pricey, as are all things at BHLDN.  I saw the alternate photo and noted that the veil had some doodads and stuff and thought that $160 was an okay price with all the little flowers and crystals and stuff.

Then I read a comment from a purchaser/reviewer on this veil:

I was disappointed just like the last reviewer. I thought that the veil came with the bow and white flower pin. It doesn't it is just a piece of fabric barely attached with clear twine to a metal clip. I can't believe I spent $160.00 on it. If you get the bow and clip as well your total cost would be $260.00. Still debating on whether I will keep it. If you can find the fabric you can easily make it yourself.

First off, her math is a little wonky. The price of the bow is $200, the veil is $160, that means together they would be $360, not $260, GAH! She also included a photo:


THIS for $160!

So I was all I CAN TOTALLY MAKE THAT FOR A TON LESS AND SELL IT FOR A TON LESS!  So that’s what I started doing. I have some dotted tulle (“voile” means “veil” in French, so it the same shit essentially), I have some little doodads, let’s see what I can make.

The description of the bow thing is as follows:

…spray of enameled petals and glittering Swarovski stones in the midst of a loopy tulle bow. French dotted Swiss nylon, tulle, enameled brass flowers, Swarovski crystals.

So I don’t have Swarovski crystals on hand, but I do have some vintage goodies I could play around with that include a brass filigree flower, some vintage rhinestones and little vintage white plastic flowers with rhinestone centers. Some of the pieces aren’t in the best shape, but it was just a side project, so who cares, right? 

But wait, do you want to know WHY I wanted to try this? I wanted to see what it would price out to be. I wanted to see what my time and cost of goods would come out to.

Below is what I came up with (all on the left) and how it compares to the BHLDN items (all on the right). Check it:







Not bad, right? Pretty damn close if I do say so myself. While I was making this, in my head I was a little worried about selling it. It’s a purposeful knock-off. I don’t want to steal ideas and sell them as my own. That’s not my bag. I know the material isn’t identical, the doodads aren’t the same, there’s more pouf to the bow; legally BHLDN would have no recourse against me even if I did sell it.

I just saw the pricing and I threw up a little in my mouth. It was so gross. Now, little ol’ me? Making these pieces? It cost me next to nothing. The material I had on hand, the little plastic flowers were some of my grandmother’s old missing-its-partner earrings I took apart. Same for the filigree brass flower. The tulle in the bow I already had. However, if I was going to price this out based on economies of scale, purchasing quantity buys (as a large company like BHLDN would naturally do), the materials themselves? I’m going to estimate that the cost of the raw goods is NO MORE than $10, total. A couple crystals, some enameled flowers and material…can’t be more than $10. Simply can NOT. So, let’s pretend I’m a normal retailer and I take a 50-60% mark-up, that’s would put this at $22.50 or so, thus far compared to $360.

But don’t get your panties in a twist just yet. We haven’t talked about labor. It took me about 4 hours to make, futzing around with things, taking earrings apart,  making it just so. Based on BHLDN’s info, the designer of this piece is Debra Mooreland. It also states that the artisans that work in Debra’s Ohio studio “painstakingly build each piece by hand,” according to her original prototype.

And I guess that’s where we get down to the nitty gritty. How much is that time worth? The item is made in America, which means it will be more expensive. I’m OK with that. How much should an artisan make in an hour for copying a prototype? Now we’re just talking about skilled labor, not a designer.

Let’s just pretend for a second that I am one of these artisans and I’m making this from a prototype (which is basically what I did). I have all the materials on hand and I know what to do. No futzing. Streamlined process. On the high end, I’d say two hours, MAX. Probably less after the first 3 or 4. What is my time worth? What is Debra Mooreland’s time worth? What is one of her artisan’s time worth? What’s the licensing fee that BHLDN is paying Debra Mooreland (in my décor line of work, the range is 3-8%)? How much is overhead? Let’s say I charge $50 (I totally don’t) per hour for my work. In a perfect BHLDN world, you’ve got $100 in labor, plus the $10 for the parts and that equals $110. Add in the 50-60% markup and you’ve got $220 on the LOW side. Add in licensing fees and overhead and all of  sudden, the price starts to make sense.

And what if BHLDN approached ME and asked me to be one of their featured artists? Would I object to the pricing structure to have items made here in America and to have my work distributed through a well-know entity? Is $50 an hour reasonable? Is $100? Thought provoking, no?

Me? I priced this out the same way as I do all my items. I pay myself slightly more than minimum wage per hour (which disgusts me, but it is so), I charge for materials, packaging and generally, I take less than a 50% margin. I don’t do these things because I’m stupid. I charge less because I’m not well-known. I’m relatively new in the industry. My “brand” doesn’t command a high price…yet. However, to make all things fair, I gave myself a 50% mark up on this. The total cost I’d charge? $105 for both pieces compared to $360

So I have 2 points in all this. First? Shop around. Shop on Cargoh. Shop on Etsy.  Look around and you can find skilled artisans working hard to make ends meet, creating beautiful, quality product without the licensing fees and overhead.

Second? You can get this for FREE because you were patient and read all the bullshit that went through my head on this one.

Here’s what you gotta do:

1. Leave a comment. Anything will do: rant, praise, rambling jargon. (1 Entry)

2. Help me reach 1000 Twitter followers (I’m SO CLOSE!) and follow me @T30SB. Tweet this message: Veil Giveaway @T30SB http://bit.ly/zrkuCt . Leave a SEPARATE comment here that you did it. Already a follower? Tweet the same and let me know you are! (1 Entry)

3. Help me reach 1000 Facebook followers (I’m a little further behind on this one) and hit up my page here.  Leave a SEPARATE comment that you did it. Already a follower? Tell me you are in your additional comment! (1 Entry)

4. Follow me on Pinterest (you should really be a member already!) and tell me you did so by leaving a SEPARATE comment! Already follow me? Fantastic. Tell me about in your additional comment. (1 Entry)

So that’s FOUR chances to win! The contest will run for a week, ending on Sunday, February 12th at noon, EST. I’ll announce the winner on Monday, February 13th! Just in time for Valentine's Day! WOOT!

Article originally appeared on The Thirty-Something Bride Wedding Blog (http://thirtysomethingbride.com/).
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