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I started harness work with the sole purpose of it being just for my animals use, have never thought about going into it for anything other then a hobby. Anyway, I have a lady that that has inquired several times about making a driving bridle for her pony after she saw one of my bridles on social media. I've told her I'm just starting out and not really into selling, etc. She wants the exact bridle I made- how the heck do I even give her a price? I've looked at others for sale that are kind of similar but I'm not sure  how to  price it. I would have to hand sew the cheeks because I'm not happy with the way my machine sews them- it deflects on the back and I would not send something out that I wasn't happy with. I hand sew keepers  and I've decided the rounds I will be hand sewing from now on. We are talking a ton of work. I have absolutely no idea and have no interest in  giving my work away. Any thoughts? I have no clue how to price "custom" harness work and am beginning to think I'll just keep my "projects" to myself. Thanks! 

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I am glad to hear that you value your time and work enough to not give it away.  It is a common beginning pitfall (and also for some not-so-beginners) to underprice their work.  Look around at like products.  While your work, nor mine, will not demand the same price as the top makers in the industry, our customers should be at least be paying us a decent wage PLUS a markup on materials, PLUS enough to pay for our investment in the business.  I always figure if I can't at least make enough to equal the interest on the money I have invested, after I take a wage out and pay all expenses, then I either need to raise my prices or find something else to do.  Like products sell anywhere from $400 on up.  Personally, I wouldn't even think about it for less than $400, and if I actually broke down every minute I'd have in a bridle like that, it would probably be a lot more.  That eliminates 99.9% of the driving people in my area. . . they expect the whole harness for less than $400, but as you know, there IS a difference. 

Edited by Big Sioux Saddlery

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If someone SAW your work, and wants one "just like it", then I wouldnt' worry about "the way the machine" does it - it's apparently not objectionable.  Nothing dishonest or deceitful if they SEE and KNOW what they're getting.  You might just tell them that IF they want that done by hand, that would be extra dollar amount.

I make a point of NEVER pricing someone else's work for them, but I'm with Big Souix.. if I'm going to break even, I'm gonna figure I should have just gone fishin' ...

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Thank you Big Sioux and JSLeather for the input. It's difficult for me to price it because I'm so new, etc but I think I have a better understanding now. I really don't care if I get the job or not- I'm going to tell her a high price and see where it goes(she's east coast , by the way)  . I'm still going to hand stitch because I just cannot send out something that I personally wouldn't be happy with. Will update when and if I hear back from the "customer" :)

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God luck and good job. I have just gotten my first few commissions and I WAYYYYY undersold myself. I won't be doing it again. I turned out some pretty stellar work, imo, and let it go for almost what I had in it in materials :( Still being new, I almost don't feel worthy to ask more for it, so I cheated myself but my customer got a wallet that'll last him a good 10 years or more. Hopefully it'll come back in referrals?

 Please let us know how it goes and post lots of pics along the way. Tack/harnesses intimidate the heck out of me and I'd appreciate it immensely to see a build as it's happening.

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Now that it has finally happened it wont be long before you post "oops I did it again..." excellent work regardless of where you land your price will attract attention from others. Good luck with it and let us know how it all goes.

Since I am currently blessed with a day job that allows me a Jobby (hobby that almost pays for itself) so when pricing I am not too concerned about covering labour, material costs, overhead, and profit etc. but when I retire from the day job that may all change if I move into a real "business" model.. One of my kids is threatening to learn and get into it and it would be a good thing to leave for him to earn as a skilled trade he can fall back on when music isn't paying the bills....

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Sound advice above.  One thing I would add is that since you said you're new, she may try to leverage that against you as a means to reduce your price.  Don't fall for that.  She clearly recognized the quality in your work and spoke up about it.  A LOT of people underprice their work because they're new, because they're shy or self conscious or a myriad other reasons.  Things like electricity, heat and water all should be factored into your pricing, even the time and resources spent to pick up supplies and organize them in your shop.  Pros know this, hobbyists in their garages often never even think of it.  

I agree with plinker cases.  You've cracked the code and more people will be knocking on the door.  What does a high end set of mass produced tack cost?  Yours is hand made, with attention to every detail and the eye of an enthusiast.  That equals $$$ or at the very least a counter argument to the, "well you're new" argument.

 

Good luck.

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As a person who does leatherwork as a hobby and sells a few pieces here and there, here's my take on things. Either you give away your stuff because you love what you do and it's primarily a form of entertainment, or you charge an honest price for it. Anything in between  devalues your work and that of other serious leatherworkers. When I have someone asking me to do custom work, I often tell them: "this will take me x hours to do" before even announcing a price.  That way, any price named thereafter will be convertible in the mind of the customer into an hourly rate. Of course, we have other overhead (material, equipment, etc.), but it's tactically a good starting point in preparing your customer, from a psychological viewpoint!

So, when selling, first things first, you need an estimate of the number of hours that you will need to make it. Then work out what the minimum hourly rate you'd be comfortable with. This, plus the cost of materials is the absolute bare minimum that you shouldn't go below. 

Sometimes, I have friends who want to pay for something that I'm happy to make for them, but I'm conscious that they just can't afford an honest price. I'd rather gift them the piece than be underpaid for it.

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Fun story I thought I'd share:  :)

Last year, I gave away a beautiful hand-crocheted Queen-sized bedspread my late mother had made, to a family member, because I couldn't bear to sell it to a stranger who was offering me $20 bucks for it. What really made me mad was the person who wanted it knew how to crochet, so she KNEW exactly how much work something like that took! :(

(We really need a decent 'burning mad' smiley for this board. The one I used above doesn't BEGIN to express my feelings!! 20 bucks wouldn't even have covered the cost of materials...) 

 

 

buying handmade.jpg

Edited by Sheilajeanne

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Sheilajeanne that is excellent!

Alisdair I like that philosophy... make and give it for free and for fun or charge what it is really worth. Simple formula.

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The inscription on the picture "There is always someone who will make cheaper"

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Moral: Good work can not be cheap.

@Alexis1234 I'm not a great connoisseur of horses and horse harness, but it seems to me that your work is quality and good .

Edited by ABHandmade

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You guys are awesome! Better advice could not be had. I sent her a quote last night, waiting on response. I based my price after looking at a medium price bridle that didn't have as  many shaped pieces as mine (crown layer and noseband), nor the fancy rosettes, but did have stitched keepers... It's really not about the money- I'm kind of flattered? that someone liked it well enough to inquire and it gives me an excuse to make another bridle :) We'll see what happens

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