Loving lampshade making shade is one thing, but making enough money to run a sustainable business is quite another. In this BEAM blog post, we look at the ins and outs of pricing your handmade lampshades and what costs you’ll need, including how to work out your hourly rate to the cost of your morning cuppa, alongside tips on making sure you're pricing is still affordable for your market.
What costs do I need to think about to work out my pricing?
To work out accurate prices for your lampshades you’ll need to drill down into the detail and we'll take you through different cost categories to help you calculate your retail price.
Possibly the simplest part of your pricing up a lampshade is to add up the individual cost of the materials needed. This becomes your 'production cost' and this should differ between sizes of shade, so if you make 5 different sizes of shade, you’ll need to work out the production cost for each.
Included in your production cost is your own time, the 'Labour Cost' and read on to work out your hourly rate.
What do I want to earn?
Think about what you want your ideal hourly rate to be, even if your lampshade making business is not going to be initially your main source of income. To grow a sustainable business your rate needs to be realistic and reflect at least the current minimum wage.
Fiona Pullen in her book, Making and Marketing a Successful Art and Craft Business, offers this advice:
‘We would all love to pay ourselves a very generous wage, but the chances are the most of us would never sell our products if we factored a huge hourly rate into our price. That said do not sell yourself short. You are doing a skilled job and should be paid accordingly’
If for example you settle on earning £15 per hour and it takes you 30 minutes to complete a 30cm drum lampshade from start to finish, then your labour cost will be £7.50.
These are the costs that are often hidden from the customer but are an essential part of making your lampshades, such as heat and light and a variety of smaller business costs, that still need to be recouped.
Fiona Pullen recommends a simple method of apportioning the overhead costs to each lampshade, by simply dividing the monthly overhead cost by the number of lampshades you expect to make.
For example, if your overhead costs are £250 per month and you plan to make and sell 50 lampshades in a month, then your overhead cost per shade would be £5.
Handily all of the above, along with your production costs are the expenses of running your business, so creating a record and keeping a track of them in a digital format will also help when completing your tax return.
What about the other time I spend on my business?
Starting to record the hours you work on any aspect of your business is a good habit.
For example, if you know it takes you 5 minutes to list an item on Esty, jot it down. The same for any of the activities listed below, especially if your business is not yet your main job and you’re squeezing in dedicated time, around other things. This is where un-costed for hours and activities can creep in, distorting your pricing and eventually your profit.
It’s worth thinking about how much you pay yourself for these administrative/unskilled tasks and whether you set a higher and lower hourly rate for skilled unskilled work or whether you have just an average hourly rate that covers all business activity.
How do I arrive at the final price for my lampshade?
To come to a final price for your lampshade, the following formula applies:
So how do you work out the profit? Obviously, the profit can be anything you want it to be, but you don’t want to appear cheap and undervalue your skills or be so overpriced, that no one wants to buy your lampshades.
Before deciding on your final price it’s worth looking at the handmade lampshade market and seeing what similar products are selling for. Look at the platforms you’d like to sell on such as Etsy, Folksy, eBay, Not on the Highstreet and Amazon Handmade and also keep in mind the makers who are not interested in making money, but just treat their lampshade making as a hobby. It's worth checking out several makers, before making any comparisons.
It's also worth noting, that premium fabric, such as Liberty, William Morris, Marimekko, Orla Kiely etc will fetch premium prices, so try to compare like for like.
The profit will be the difference between what you consider a marketable and realistic selling price and the total of the production and overhead costs. If this can be applied as a percentage across all of your lampshades and will help in calculating future prices.
Reducing costs and increasing profits
Reducing your costs will result in larger profit margins, so consider the following helpful ideas to be more efficient, utilise your skills and diversify your products.
Make in batches – where possible reduce production time and cost by making in batches, repeating the same steps on every shade. For a masterclass in how to run a lampshade business and ideas for increasing efficiency check out our Meet the Entrepreneur – Light Owl.
Buy in bulk – our Manufacturing Packs are ideal for reducing the cost of each lampshade and are available in 13 different lampshade types, including our popular drum, empire and coolie shade.
Extra services - consider setting up a bespoke lampshade service allowing you to charge a premium for your lampshade making skills, for which they often provide the fabric too!
Make use of your waste - our Lantern Making Kits are perfect for using up waste fabrics leftover for other lampshades or projects. They are quick to make with low production costs and a great entry-level product particularly if you are planning on selling at craft fairs.
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