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Nov 30, 2020

Pillow Talk – Perfecting the Product

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?

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  1. Carol Spong

    Good for you!

    • Jane Pollak

      @Carol Thank you for that affirmation!

  2. Pat Burton

    I think in your book Soul Proprietor you describe a situation a glass artist had at a craft show: a woman wrote a check for payment and thought the piece was $3,000. The artist said that the piece was $300 and that she would have to rewrite the check — but he thought it was a good thing, she was “saving” $2700. The woman ended up NOT buying the piece — she thought it was worth more. That always stuck with me.

    • Jane Pollak

      @Pat Thank you for that great reminder! A lot of people shop price – on the high end – and WANT to spend their money. Who am I to interfere?!

  3. Patty Hopp

    Thank you so much Jane for sharing your story. I create “personalized, one of a kind” photo books for clients and it’s really hard to put a price on the value of my products and services for my ideal client. You’ve inspired me to offer the best quality product and services at a price that reflects its value to my client base.

    • Jane Pollak

      @Patty That’s so gratifying to hear. Someone reminded me recently that sales, especially of these personal, high end products, are relational. It’s hard to put a price tag on what you do. Your customer values what you bring to their life. Incalculable! Thanks for commenting.


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