My Etsy shop opened a few weeks ago, and I’ve already quadrupled my prices. Considering the time and aesthetics that go into each design, I know that my pillows will have to be bought as art, not home dec. They bring beauty and style to any room they grace and are meant for show, not lumbar support.
One reason for the substantial rise in cost was watching the documentary The Price of Everything where a well-known art collector, Stefan Edlis, says “Art has to be expensive so that it will be taken care of.” In the film, he might have been referring to a $65,000,000 sculpture by Jeff Koons or similarly out-of-this-world pricing, but his point is valid. If my prices were based solely on materials + labor, you might be plopping my objet d’art behind your head while you watch Netflix.
The price tells you, this is valuable.
To research the market for high-end collectibles, I visited a fancy antiques shop on the Upper West Side. I mentioned my pillows to the proprietor and that they were over a thousand dollars. He didn’t blink, but he did ask me a series of questions that gave me pause.
“What are they filled with?”
When I replied that they had hypo-allergenic polyester inserts, he shook his head. “My customers want down or feathers, not polyfill.” I mentioned that I’d recently ordered exactly what he mentioned, to which he inquired, “Will they be tick-proof?”
In my naiveté, I thought he meant safe from deer ticks. What he actually wanted to know was if errant feathers would be able to poke out. When I delved further online, I found out that ticking is a tightly woven fabric that prevents that from happening. I added it to my list for future pillows.
“Do your pillows have zippers? My customers want them to,” he advised.
I’ll need to find a seamstress or tailor who finds those routine to do. My wonderful friend and costumer who has been helping me recently was thrilled when I didn’t ask her to include invisible zippers. I will have to request that added value.
The direction this gentleman offered is causing me to create pieces that will cost me more to produce, but that will also appeal to a higher end market and pass the test of that marketplace. I’m not a member of that sector, but do know how to follow instructions.
If that’s what is required, I will provide it.
When I paid for my first logo back in the mid-80’s, the graphic designer I hired gave me an excellent piece of advice that I still rely on. “Design to the market you want to reach, not where you are now.” If my aspirational market wants feather and down-filled pillows with zippers, then they shall find all of that in my work. I don’t want to be disqualified for lacking these easily fulfilled requirements. Better to fend off those criticisms by providing them in the first place. My art will speak for itself. I’m eliminating easy obstacles by removing them from the discussion.
What market are you trying to appeal to, and what lengths are you willing to go to to grab the attention of that category?