Store-bought or Custom..which is better for you?

Yesterday was a great day. A customer asked me to make her two quilts for her kids. I told her how much I was going to charge her. Her reaction… “Great. Sounds good! When do we start?” You have no clue what a relief it is when someone says okay to a price, when someone knows that what they are getting is worth paying a little more than you would at the store.

This last week I have had two customers back out of a project because of the price. Now please, don’t get me wrong, I know what it’s like to not have a ton of money (hello, stay at home mom here) and I am not mad at anyone for not being able to afford something. My gripe is that I think people assume that they are going to get something for the same price as they would if they were to go shopping at a regular store like Target or Walmart. So here are some comparisons.

The photo on the left is an example of a canvas you can pick up from Target for the low price of $20. Cute right? Yes. But it is also not personal. It’s mass produced. It is not hand painted. It’s generic. It matches countless others in other little kid’s rooms.

Now look at the canvas on the right that I painted. The little boy who this was for has a personal jersey from his favorite football team. It has his name on it. It has the Chargers logo as well as the NFL logo on it. It is one of a kind. No one else will have one that looks exactly like this. Yes it costs more than the one you can buy at Target, but that’s when you need to decide which you prefer.

Another thing I would like to tackle is what you are paying for when I make something for you. First, you are paying for the supplies which include canvas and paint. Next, you are paying for shipping which includes the actual shipping of the items plus the supplies to ship like bubble wrap, boxes, brown paper. Last, I charge you $25 per hour to paint. Now, being totally open and honest with you on this one. Some of the canvases I have painted take me a good 30 minutes. Anything simple with some palm trees and background doesn’t take me long. But I am still going to charge you for one whole hour. Now, for other projects that involve more details or more than one canvas (like a character per canvas), I will usually estimate an hour per canvas. Most of these do not take me only one hour. I first have to talk with you and draw things out to make sure I get exactly what you want. This takes time. Then I have to go out and buy supplies and spend time and gas to get everything. Then while I am painting, I am also being a mom and a wife. I have to stop painting to help with homework and chores. I have to stop painting to make dinner and read stories and give baths. I have to stop painting and tell my daughter that “I can’t do that right now because I have to work on this project.” I have to give in to TV and movie watching to occupy my daughter so that I can finish without interruptions.

Now please don’t take this as complaining because I am not. I am just stating that while this started out as a hobby and I would paint for friends, it is rapidly turning into a source of income. When you pay me to paint something for you (or make anything), I am using this money to buy groceries, school supplies, a babysitter so my husband and I can go on a date. This is a job for me, it’s not just fun.

To summarize, I absolutely love doing projects for people. If I could do this forever I would. It brings me happiness to see the look on your face when something comes out great or to see your kids reaction when I paint them something they love. But please, when you ask me to make you something, don’t assume it is going to be cheap. Remember that it is custom to you and is personal. If you want something inexpensive and cute but not personal, head to the store.

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