How much would you charge?

flowermumApril 1, 2007


Someone has asked me to "design" a particular item for them to use in their own business to sell.

This person did not offer me any money to do this, nor did they ask how much I would charge for doing this. I consider myself a novice and I have never designed anything other than pillows.

I explained to this person that I am a novice and that this request is out of my realm. They responded by stating they felt with my knowledge, that this is something I'm capable of doing.

I really feel offended that this person would assume I'm an idiot, and that I would not want to be compensated for this work. They want me to take an item they already have and "improve" upon it for them to sell.

Therefore, how would you handle a situation like this and how does one go about pricing a unique design?

I think I'm concerned about preserving a "friendship" that really isn't a friendship after all. If this person were truly a friend, wouldn't they want to compensate me? Or is this what friends do for each other?

Thanks a lot!!!

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I don't know if you work, but that's how I base my hourly rate. I make about $20.00 an hour at work and that's what I want to make sewing or why bother? I think a lot of people think you'll do something for them for free because you are a friend. Your best bet might be to settle for a percentage of each item sold vs being paid a one time design fee.
That's something to think about,

    Bookmark   April 1, 2007 at 8:07PM
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Thanks Susan,

What you said makes a lot of sense! I actually considered telling this person that I would want a percentage of each item sold.

You answered my main question which was how to price something like that. I'm an At-Home-Mommy & Wife but you really helped me to know that my time "is" valuable and as you stated, "people think you'll do something for them for free because you are a friend."

You helped me tremendously and I now know exactly what I'll tell this friend.

I truly appreciate you taking the time to respond to my question!!! You offered very WISE advice.
: )

    Bookmark   April 1, 2007 at 10:13PM
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No problem, I don't mind making things of my choice for my friends for gifts and some of them that I know are own limited budgets I'll give a discount, but my time, just as all of ours is worth something!!!
Let me know how it works out when you talk with them.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 9:24PM
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Hi Susan,

I told my friend the price I would charge and that I also would want a percentage of each item sold since it would be my design that she's using to her gain.

She responded by letting me know that the sample designs I had shown her was not what she was looking for. I feel this person is not really a "friend" and was only looking to take advantage of my kindness.

I must say that I felt empowered after letting her know my time and energy is valuable and worthy of compensation.

Thanks so much!

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 11:33PM
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You might be right flowermom.
I give you a lot of credit to get up the nerve to tell her your deal. I'd write it down so you'll be ready for the next time!! You might even make up some little cards with that info printed on to make it look more professional..Just a hint!!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 1:12AM
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Good for you Susan. I have often wanted to tell my so called friend the same thing but I shy away and let it go. Shame on me. My sis is the same way, she wants my applique shirt patterns and I give them to her but she doesn't want to share her patterns with me.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 8:14AM
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Hi. I am new to this gardening forum looking for answers, and I sew for a living (interiors). First of all, I hope that you haven't already made these samples or took the time to even make drawings. Thats time well spent. If she had ideas of improvements she should have given you a sketch to work from. Never start anything without an agreed upon price. And if its for a business, written and signed. I don't know what exactly it was that you were doing, but $50 hour is what I make when I am in my workroom, so thats what I would be charging her.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 9:22AM
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Hi Kyocius,

She already had an item and she wanted me to improve it. I didn't personally design a new item, I just showed her patterns similar to what she already had, just to get an idea to work from.

Had she agreed, (which I feel confident she would have agreed had my services been free of charge), I would have reworked the idea into something new.

As I mentioned earlier...I love to sew (for myself) with a passion, but I consider myself a novice and this would have been a stressor for me because I really didn't want to do it anyway, so she did me a favor.

: )

As Minnie suggested, I think I will have some cards printed just to have ready in case someone approaches me again.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 11:08AM
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I made a prototype for a woman who wanted to start her own clothing line. She'd had the pattern made for her in NYC. One pattern, one size, and the charge to her was...are you sitting down? $600. That's what she told me, anyway. I suppose, if she moved forward with the plan, she will have had to pay to have it graded to different sizes.

No friend would ask you to do this without offering a cut of the profits.

When I was young, I remember a letter to the columnist Ann Landers. The writer was frustrated that everyone they were remotely acquainted with wanted a discount on her husband's service (reupholstering auto interiors) She ended her letter by saying, "We have to make money doing business with friends. Our enemies take their business elsewhere."

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 11:53AM
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Well said Evaf!!! The more I think about this person, the more I am disappointed in her for thinking she could take advantage of me and my kindness.

I could've saved myself a headache had I just said "no" from the start. But she cornered me really, I thought it was something just for her personal use.

I've learned several lessons from this experience, and I am going to stress to my kids how important it is to be kind and help others, but not to allow others to take advantage of their friendship and kindness.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 2:18PM
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I think that friendly, generous people get taken advantage of in this way. I tried bartering with a neighbor of mine: sewed different projects for her, but when it was time for her to reciprocate, the timing was never convenient. After six months, I gave up, and was "busy."

It was different when someone was in genuine need. Another neighbor approached me to repair the blue jeans she wore to work. I did, but it took a half hour. For what I charge, she could have purchased another three pair at Salvation Army (knowing now how long it takes, that is what I'd suggest, now). I told her, "no charge." You know how people say karma is a boomerang? Seven days later, DH is stranded elsewhere in town, and I have no vehicle, and a couple simple items from our garage will put him on the road again. Neighbor with blue jeans brought them over to him, and I'm certain she had other things she'd rather have been doing on a Saturday morning.

There's a difference, too, in things that are genuinely necessary, example: shoveling the walkway of an elderly lady who physically can't do it herself, as opposed to sewing her a custom-made dress for $10.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2007 at 10:38AM
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Many of us find that we can "sew" a favor for a neighbor, friend or family member and ask for a favor later if we need to. I don't like to do alterations or repairs, but I recently put a new zipper in a neighbor's fleece jacket as a favor knowing that I could call on him and his son if I needed some heavy lifting done.

There is a saying I always remember: "No one can take advantage of you unless you let them." You have learned from this experience, flowermum. We learn each time someone tries to pull something like this. Also, stand up for yourself - no one else will.

    Bookmark   April 7, 2007 at 9:10PM
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Yes, I have always stood up for myself and continue to do so. As I stated earlier, I was taken aback and off guard because of the friendship.

I recognized that this person was trying to take advantage of me, and I chose to not allow her to do so. That's why I stated in my earlier post that I will stress to my kids how important it is to not "allow" others to take advantage of them.

I have since been in a social gathering with this person, and I definitely sensed the uneasiness there.

Thanks everyone for your helpful and much appreciated advice.
: )

    Bookmark   April 10, 2007 at 3:02PM
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Boy did this discussion make me want to comment. I took a job sewing for someone and all she did was complain about money and ask me to lower my prices, many times. I got so irritated with her about the pricing and other issues I finally quit.

When I sat down to calculate the time I invested into her stuff and how much I actually made I found out I was making only about $2.00 an hour. GET THAT!!!!

She was so angry she tried to retaliate against me in several ways, none of which worked. She tried to get back every penny she paid me but yet the stuff I had sewn for her was being sold on her website.

I wouldn't have enough space to finish this whole story but........

What have I learnt from all of this??? Charge them upfront, you never know what it will be like later on especially if you have to quit. If you feel you are worth a certain amount charge it, don't let anyone undercut your value.

    Bookmark   April 14, 2007 at 3:03AM
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Amen, Gammie!

I have been making quilts on commission for several years and now have sold my first one online, plus got another commission from that first sale. I refuse to lower my prices on my quilts for two reasons:

1. I devalue my own work if I sell my quilts too cheaply

2. I also devalue the work of my fellow quilters with cheap prices that indicate a devaluation of our time, materials, and talent.

I would rather give my quilts to charity organizations or give them to casual friends and co-workers as gifts.

Just my opinion -

    Bookmark   April 15, 2007 at 11:34AM
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