Yes... I am going to go on about it again, so if you don't feel like reading all of this; thanks for stopping by!
I have been doing handmade items all my life, but it was from 2011 that I decided to start my own business. So I decided to open up a page on Facebook, and start selling my items.
I first started doing handmade cards. They used to take me around 60 minutes-90 minutes each. Because you have to print the inside with a poem - maybe photos - embellish the card - etc etc.. So let us say 90 minutes right? How much do you get payed for that as per minimum wage in Malta? €4.33 an hour? And what about the costs of the cardstock? The envelope? The ink? The embellishments? Those have to be added up to the hourly amount. And I used to charge €5 minimum a card.
Let us say it all, there were those clients which used to come every week, cause they appreciated handmade items - but there were those that used to say that they were expensive!
That was one of the main reasons I stopped doing handmade cards - cause I used to spend a ridiculous amount of time on them, and I wasn't even getting payed for all the time I used to spend doing them & getting back the cost of the supplies.
Now, let us go to felt items...
First of all - The designs - I have spent hours and hours to come out with all the designs - to draw them - to see that each and every one looked perfect. For anyone that does not know this, I was the very first one in Malta to start selling them. A friend of mine which was an artisan too, asked me to do one for her son. So I did, and then after the first one I started designing more felt names - and obviously selling them. I have sold hundreds of them, plus other handmade felt items. Every thing which I have sewn, I did it by hand. I tried to use a machine but sewing by hand was always easier for me. It felt that the product was entirely handmade.
I attended to so many fairs and I have always sold nearly everything by those people that loved and mostly - APPRECIATED handmade items.
Now... I buy mostly of my materials from abroad. Why you ask? Because the quality is better - the sellers are more reliable. I tried many times to go and purchase my fabric (for example) from a local shop - but what I wanted - they never had in stock. So, yes I had to. I get all my materials from abroad.
So now, let us talk about the making. let us say for instance one felt name. It takes me about an hour or two to cut all the design for just one felt name.
The sewing you ask? It takes me around 12 to 15 hours to hand sew just one felt name. You have to stitch it all up - stuff it in. Attach all the pieces one to another. Make sure everything is neat and perfect.
So, Let us say that is 17 hours in all. Let us multiply those 17 hours to Malta's hourly rate shall we? It comes to €73.61. Now let us say that the cost of all the materials used cost around €12, and we add it up to the hourly amount. That comes to €85.61. Do you understand the concept of handmade now? And that cost is for a basic five letter felt name.
Experience - In every job there is out there - you have to have experience. And with experience comes job titles and promotion. I cannot expect myself, doing my job every single day, not getting better at what I do! So, I gain experience - I gained a lot of it. I get promoted too and with every promotion comes a rise in the salary. So do I!
I have decided to write about this because I have heard - and been told several times - that handmade items are expensive. But, have you ever stopped for a moment to think about this? Sincerely? Did you ever?!
I cannot tell you the amount of times, I was approached by foreigners, telling me - why do you under price your items? That is not right - you should price them higher! Get payed for your work.
I have searched all over the web, and I came across so many foreign websites selling handmade items from all over the world. And yeah - unfortunately they were right. I used to look at designs similar to mine - and you know what? They were double and even triple my price! And you know what is even better? They were selling so many of their products, as if they were pastizzi here in Malta.
So, I ask myself... is it the problem here in Malta?
Aren't we artisans underestimated?
What is wrong?
It feels for me that we are so very unappreciated. We spend hours and hours working to bring every single customer the best of our products and that is what all the others have to say? That our items are expensive? It seems to me that a big majority of Maltese people want everything for free. Hey - you know what sites you should try? EBay, Joom & Aliexpress. I am sure you will find something there for you!
So you know, if you are wondering, YES!! I am Maltese - born and raised - pure blooded!
It is amazing how foreigners support each other - buy their own products from their own country.
It is amazing how they advertise each others work!
Oh let us talk about the Maltese people and food. How much do you spend when you go out and eat at your favourite restaurant? How much time does it take you to eat that food? How long does it last in your stomach?
Weddings? How much did your last outfit for that wedding cost you? How many times you wore it? And that shoes? And that jewellery? And the make up? How much did it cost? Gosh!!! Only for one night?!!
Now, you might be saying.. why don't I go and work like every other person does? You know what? I did stop for three years and I did go and work. But I had to stop in March 2020 because of this pandemic. And because of health reasons that some members of my family are facing - I cannot return as yet. I was working, and started studying again you know. But unfortunately I had to put it all on pause for now. And this is was my last resort. To return back to my work from home. I love what I do. I am constantly working hard to bring all the people out there new things. I am constantly working hard to improve myself. To find a way to create new products so that more people can afford.
So please, before ever saying that handmade is expensive - think about it and refrain from saying so - Mostly to the person doing that work!
I would like to say so many other things, but I better stop here because I have already said too much!
One last thing I want to say THANK YOU to each and every single person that has purchased any of our products all throughout these years - but mostly now in these hard times. Thank you for helping me out in supporting my family, for believing in me and for every little thing that you do in order to keep or tiny business going.
Thanks and keep positive! Wishing you the very best of happiness, health, love & joy. Stay safe!