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Re: [TheCostumersManifesto] charge for alterations

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  • Ana's Accoutremonts
    Okay, enough dancing around--I ve been in this business over 15 years, and I ve learned to set prices high. My mentor told me years ago, If they re not
    Message 1 of 12 , Jun 24, 2003
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      Okay, enough dancing around--I've been in this business over 15 years,
      and I've learned to set prices high. My mentor told me years ago, "If
      they're not complaining when they write the check, then you're not
      charging enough." This sounds hard and exploitational, but it is harder
      to be dirt poor and not pay your bills because you don't charge enough.

      Yes, your level of skill, local market conditions, and cost of living
      are all factors. I find the simplest way to set my prices is by what
      other tradespeople charge. For example, what is the standard hourly
      charge for an auto mechanic in your area? A plumber? How much does it
      cost to get your lawn mown? How much do they charge to give you an
      estimate on fixing your sewing machine? Or to clean and oil it? These
      are all expenses you pay, so you must make enough to afford.

      Unless you just finished your first sewing class, you should charge
      comparable rates to local tradespeople. You are at least as skilled and
      experienced, despite the truism (which is NOT true!) that "anyone can
      sew...." You will encounter resistance from people who shop for
      bargains, like US!

      Please repeat 10 times: "I am not my customer!" You buy your clothes
      at Walmart or at the mall on sale--your customer buys at major
      department stores and boutiques when she feels like it. You want to
      turn down at least as many customers as you accept (turning down
      includes them yelling obscenities at you on the phone when they find out
      your prices). This means that you will get to spend your time sewing
      your best, and get paid what you're worth.

      Hemming and altering beaded and sequined dresses is top level work,
      akin to suit alterations of shoulders and necklines. Call some of the
      people listed under "alterations" in the phone book, and ask them what
      they charge, and then charge AT LEAST as much, if not 10% more. If the
      client complains, explain that you want to do your very best work on
      their dress, and not rush. That if you charge less, you will have to do
      a fast, sloppy job, and you don't want to work that way. If they still
      balk, offer them the numbers of the people you called from the phone
      book. You're better off not working for them.

      Don't feel bad if they go away. Once you get a reputation for excellent
      work (earn it!) and on-time delivery (easier when you have fewer orders
      to schedule), you will have all the work you can do, from people who
      won't nickel and dime you. I know because I've had a waiting list all
      through the recession.

      Feel free to email me directly (anybody) for more "it's worth what you
      pay for it" advice on running a sewing business to the public. I enjoy
      mentoring other seamstresses--someone's going to have to take over when
      I retire!

      Ana

      [free plug for my business! FOFL]

      Ana Foscari
      Ana's Accoutremonts

      "We Fit EVERY Body!"
      http://www.sewfits.com
      (toll free) 1-888-SEW-FITS

      "Anger never ceases with anger,
      Anger is healed by love alone.
      Open your heart to love.
      Pray for Peace."



      Sheila Martinez wrote:

      > Hello Carla,
      > It is so hard to set a price on this type of work without seeing the
      > dress or outfit. I have a very good friend who owns a dry
      > cleaner/alterations shop. Anytime I have a hard to price outfit, I go
      > to her and we "consult". I am very lucky to have her. Maybe you could
      > find a person like that to help you with your pricing.
      > sheila
      >
      > "Peace, Carla" <carla_koontz@...> wrote:
      > What would be a fair price to charge per hour for beaded and sequin
      > fabrics as well as large princess type ball gowns with many layers
      > for hemming and alterations?
      >
      >
      > Carla Koontz
      >
      > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      >
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    • DJCPoland@aol.com
      Ana, you are right. And I d like to add one more thing. A long time ago, when I was first thinking of trying to earn a living as an artisan, I worked for a
      Message 2 of 12 , Jun 25, 2003
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        Ana, you are right. And I'd like to add one more thing. A long time ago,
        when I was first thinking of trying to earn a living as an artisan, I worked for
        a potter. She told me to never sell anything for a price I wouldn't be
        willing to do the same work five more times for. I can't say I've always practiced
        that, but I've tried.

        Donna Carty
      • Peace, Carla
        thank you all for your help!!! The designer I m doing these for wants to give me $8.50 an hour. Carla Koontz [Non-text portions of this message have been
        Message 3 of 12 , Jun 26, 2003
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          thank you all for your help!!! The designer I'm doing these for wants to give me $8.50 an hour.


          Carla Koontz

          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Ana's Accoutremonts
          WOW--what a good rule of thumb! I can t tell you how many over the top custom projects have eaten my lunch when I misjudged the amount of time and work, and
          Message 4 of 12 , Jun 27, 2003
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            WOW--what a good rule of thumb! I can't tell you how many "over the
            top" custom projects have eaten my lunch when I misjudged the amount of
            time and work, and now I price things high up front, to cover unexpected
            complications. But as they say, sometimes you get the bear, sometimes
            the bear gets you!

            Ana

            DJCPoland@... wrote:

            > Ana, you are right. And I'd like to add one more thing. A long time
            > ago,
            > when I was first thinking of trying to earn a living as an artisan, I
            > worked for
            > a potter. She told me to never sell anything for a price I wouldn't be
            > willing to do the same work five more times for. I can't say I've
            > always practiced
            > that, but I've tried.
            >
            > Donna Carty
            >
            >
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            --
            Ana Foscari
            Ana's Accoutremonts
            "We Fit EVERY Body!"
            http://www.sewfits.com
            (toll free) 1-888-SEW-FITS

            "Anger never ceases with anger,
            Anger is healed by love alone.
            Open your heart to love.
            Pray for Peace."





            [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          • Sheila Martinez
            Carla, Ana s advise and wisdom is priceless. and I would like to thank her for that. One of the first and best words of advise I ever received was this: You
            Message 5 of 12 , Jun 28, 2003
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              Carla,
              Ana's advise and wisdom is priceless. and I would like to thank her for that.
              One of the first and best words of advise I ever received was this: "You have to learn to say, "NO" ". Sometimes it doesn't matter how much you want the work, it just isn't worth the letting the bear get you. But also, I have found that I learn something with every job I do...esp when I underbid them. Education is a very expensive commodity.
              sheila

              "Peace, Carla" <carla_koontz@...> wrote:
              thank you all for your help!!! The designer I'm doing these for wants to give me $8.50 an hour.


              Carla Koontz

              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]



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            • Love3angle
              One big thing to consider, and I never see it discussed in any pricing discussions, is how skilled or fast you are. In my opinion, alterations should be
              Message 6 of 12 , Jul 7, 2003
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                One big thing to consider, and I never see it discussed in any
                pricing discussions, is how skilled or fast you are. In my opinion,
                alterations should be priced on a per-job basis not a per-hour
                basis. It doesn't follow that a slower sewer should make more money
                on a hem than a quicker sewer. If you do charge by the hour then the
                faster you are the more per hour you should charge. This is why a
                thorough survey of your local tailors should give you an idea of what
                to charge. Check everything from the discount men's suit store to
                the posh bridal salon. That will give you a much clearer idea of
                what your local market will bear, and whether it's even worth your
                time to do it.

                My 2 cents...
                Alyxx
              • Sheila Martinez
                You are so right. There are some things where I can make $40 per hour and there are some things that only bring in @ $10per hour. Then there are those things
                Message 7 of 12 , Jul 8, 2003
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                  You are so right. There are some things where I can make $40 per hour and there are some things that only bring in @ $10per hour. Then there are those things that I do where I wonder if I made even 25 cents per hour. Those are the ones that I chalk up to education! It all goes back to speed and finesse...and your customer base and what the market will bear. and I do occassionally double check with "others" as to what they are charging. I find that most of them are like me...they do not want to give out their prices without looking at the job, but are more than willing to help with pricing out a job.

                  I would trim the post, but it is all relevant. thanks
                  sheila

                  Love3angle <aiannetta@...> wrote:
                  One big thing to consider, and I never see it discussed in any
                  pricing discussions, is how skilled or fast you are. In my opinion,
                  alterations should be priced on a per-job basis not a per-hour
                  basis. It doesn't follow that a slower sewer should make more money
                  on a hem than a quicker sewer. If you do charge by the hour then the
                  faster you are the more per hour you should charge. This is why a
                  thorough survey of your local tailors should give you an idea of what
                  to charge. Check everything from the discount men's suit store to
                  the posh bridal salon. That will give you a much clearer idea of
                  what your local market will bear, and whether it's even worth your
                  time to do it.

                  My 2 cents...
                  Alyxx



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