The Cost of Handmade | The Importance of Supporting Local Makers

The Cost of Handmade | The Importance of Supporting Local Makers

Posted by Kim Williams on May 23rd 2019

I want to clear some things up, over the years I'd get a comment/message every now and then about my pricing for my designs. Sometimes it is assumed that I buy from China, get it made in China, other times it's the assumption that hand-made is cheaper. I am here to tell you, both conceptions are incorrect.

I've been on the fence about addressing the situation, but I've been reminded that I do not owe anyone an explanation, people that question it are just not my target market, it is rude to comment on pricing within BST etiquette, etc. But this is also an awesome opportunity for growth, for you to learn more about me and other handmade shops.

Let's get a break down of one my most popular dresses, The BX Alberta dress (, it's cotton, it's got a little ruffle, it twirls, it's a cute dress you can wear to school and play, some even sleep in it! It's THAT GOOD.

The cost of a premium (color fast, 5-7% shrinkage or less, ring spun, medium weight) cotton knit fabric in a solid color is about $5 (typical costs for prints are $10-16/yard at WHOLESALE) a yard on a lucky day for me. I am buying anywhere between 15-70 yards at a time, so that's the best I can get, maybe one day when I am selling a hundred dresses a day, I can get a better price on many rolls of fabrics and offer many more colors. A size 4T Alberta dress typically takes about a yard of fabric to make and about $12 to sew the dress, so I am in $17 dollars just for materials and labor. This does not consider overhead:

Pattern development, typically 4-6 hours

Samples made before it's released to be public, I average 2-3 samples per design to make it right

Monthly dues for leasing, insurance, electricity, gas, water, safety inspections & certifications, internet at the shop

Website subscription plan

Payroll - because I pay my coveted seamstresses worth their weight in the work that they put out, and they deserve to be compensated for the level of detail and skill they put into MY products.

Marketing costs per design or campaign

Tax, and other legal business presentation required to operate

Packaging and materials

Other materials (thread, elastic, buttons, embroidery)

Other web services that make my business run

All the other things required to make my business run

Yet, I am only charging $35 for it as part of the Basics line, it's a good solid dress and I sell enough of it that I can justify the loss of potential profit for charging more for all the things listed above. Plus it is a great introduction piece to the brand, and if it's one thing you are going to buy and remember me by, this is one of those staple designs. If I were to sell this to Nordstrom, your retail price would be $70-80 per dress.

This is just an example of costs, my regular line, I Bambini, costs more, there are more details to those designs, more delicate fabrics to work with (lace, chiffon, rayon challis, voile) but it's PERFECT for the design. Yet, I am charging maybe twice as much for all the work that I put into it.

So when you tell me you love my designs but there's no way you are spending $XX on a dress and ask for a discount, that's disheartening, that's me operating at a loss and I did not start a business to be in the negatives. If you truly love the designs that I put out, buy it. If you can't afford it, that's ok too, give it a heart emoji and share it, us small shops notice that and eat it up, it usually will make our day! If you love the design and us, you'll throw it on your little darling and snap a picture to share across social media, we REALLY notice that and that makes our entire week! It can take a very shitty, ugly crying kind of day and turn it around and give us a little nudge to keep doing what we love: delivering quality handmade premium designs to you. That is value you cannot put a price on.

You wouldn’t (and couldn't) walk into Nordstrom's and demand that pair of UGG boots for $30 because that's what your budget is, that's what TJ Maxx is for. I am not knocking TJ Maxx or Target, Children's Place, Gymboree, or anywhere else you love to shop because I love shopping there too! There is a place for every price point and mine is higher for the quality product you will be receiving. You just wouldn't walk into a high end store and demand better pricing, you wouldn't do this to your custom baker, your hair stylist, your photographer, or any other business you love to frequent and support.

Handmade is not cheaper, it's usually a 1 person team, or a very small team of 10 or less people that is all hands on to get your finished design delivered to you. The craftsmanship cannot be bought elsewhere, we work hard to design, source the materials, and make sure that our construction is bar none. It will be the last dress you would ever need until your child outgrew it, then you can pass it on. We make things to last, to create memories in, to grow with your child. We inadvertently end up building a community with our brand and we want YOU to be a part of it.

For the record, I Bambini Clothing was, is, and always will be a premium brand DESIGNED by me, and MADE in USA! 

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