Business

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Pricing Your Work: Remember a while ago when we were discussing how much to charge for things we make? Well, today on the Carol Duvall show she had a man on who gave a general formula for things. He is an artist who makes woven rugs and sweaters etc. He said that you have to pay yourself a wage. He said for starters make it $10.00/hr. Figure in your materials, and 25% of labor and materials for overhead. Then you come up with a price for what it costs you to make the item. Then depending on what the market will allow for the type of art you do will decide how much you can add on for profit. He said that if the formula comes out to more that what you can charge for an item, then you should find something else that is less time consuming or uses less materials, or is a more popular item. He used one of his rugs as an example. He said the yarn that when into it was about $30.00. It took him 40 hours to complete it. Then with the 25% OH it came to $537.50, but because these woven rugs he makes are something that a lot of people want and the market will allow it, he can charge $1000.00 for the rug. He said you really have to know your product. Another woman said that you have to be flexible if you want to make money.

Linda


Mini Plans - Mini designs - mini books: I am taking a few minute break to catch up on my e-mail and have a few more to climb up on my soap box Why does everyone seem intent upon finding plans for MINIATURES?????

Our goal (except for the fantasy contingent) is to represent reality in miniature. Right? I do appreciate articles, posts, books, and such that offer materials, techniques, and tooling that helps us to create our miniatures. As for plans, however, I far prefer to use authentic items or published plans for full sized authentic items. There are several advantages.

(1) My finished pieces are authentic and authenticated. I can show photographs of the original from which I modeled my miniature (or a copy of the article) In authenticating, my description is not what mini book the plans came from but, rather and for example, "Based on a 1937 Crosley, single band table radio in the collection of Mister Robert Page of Ventura, Ca. Number 3 of 12 miniatures by MCK"

(2) I have the fun of research and design plus the prestige of prototype ownership

Research from the real thing can be in private collections, antique shops, second hand stores, museums, or your own Grandma's attic. Research from plans can be from woodworking/upholstery/metal smith books and magazines including library micro film editions of OLD Popular Mechanics, Fine Woodworking, etc. Further research from photographs may be from old magazines, "captured" scenes from movies, or background glimpses in old family photographs.

(3) I enjoy a mini fan club beyond our miniature circle. It includes owners of the full sized prototypes who are very flattered when I ask to measure, sketch, and photograph one of their treasures for miniature reproduction. #1 certainly is my own. #2 usually has an immediate buyer (I throw in a display dome for good will)

(4) I am not limited to what others have discovered, downsized, and deemed worthy of drafting. The world is much larger than that.

(5) Real antiques frequently have stories. Miniatures carefully crafted after those full size prototypes automatically "own" the story also - for no extra charge.

'Nuf soap box for now. Some other break time I will get a bit into research measuring and drawing.

Mel K.


My advice to all who request work, custom or otherwise, is to ask for signed agreements.   If the agreement is conducted by email, print out every piece of email and keep it on file.   If the amount involved is small, one may not care to do that, but if the amount is large, be sure to do it.  Ask for such a dated statement with the contracted service clearly stated, the total amount to be paid and when with any deposit noted.  If interim payments are made, be sure to get signed and dated receipts for them. The case might be reversed and your heirs would be entitled to the contracted service or return of deposit and payments if any. A friend of ours bought a gun from an older gentleman who wrote on a scrap of paper the agreement and tossed it on his desk as he did for each payment.  When there were only a couple payments left, the gentleman died and his widow demanded full payment as stated in the original agreement on the scrap.   Somehow she found that scrap, but not any of the subsequent scraps noting the payments. Without any proof of the payments because he never got copies of those scraps, our friend was legally forced to pay in full the amount in the original agreement.

My advice to artisans and crafts people is be fair to your customer by giving   them all such documentation.  It is only professional. And customers do your heirs a service and keep records.  It will be a very difficult time for them and their emotions will be fragile; they will not need complications which you can avoid for them. None of us will live forever and none of us knows when our time is up so we should for the sake of the customer and for the artisan/crafts person and survivors leave records that clearly show the status of transactions.  We all like to trust others and that is good, but after death when others become involved proof is needed.

Another precaution I would suggest is record some place whenever an expensive   item is sent out to an artisan/crafts person for something to be made for it or something done to it.  Otherwise your survivors will not know where it is and in fact, may not even know that it exists.

Mel - Mass, USA


Contemporary furniture: I've found that some contemporary furniture is not very hard to make, if you're into making your own.   You could use inspiration like the IKEA (http://www.ikea.com ) catalogue or Lundby furniture (http://www.lundby.com  ) for ideas.

As for places to buy contemporary furniture (I have yet found any place besides eBay and Earth and Tree Miniatures that sells contemporary houses), you might have a few options.   One is using furniture designed for the Kaleidoscope House by Bozart (http://www.bozart.com ).   Another is to try some of the furniture from AGMinis (http://www.americangirl.com ).   I believe that some of it is in true 1" scale while some is not—   And you probably already know that you can buy contemporary kitchen furniture from just about any miniature supplier or retailer you can find (e.g. http://www.miniatures.com, but there are plenty of others).

Erin


Displaying Tiny Items at Shows:  - One option for you when selling minis would be to have one each of the items you sell displayed out of the bag.  I find that the item when looking thru plastic, whether it is a bag or a plastic box, does not look quite as nice as when it is removed.  The back-up stock could be placed on the front of your table on boards.

I have cut up corrugated boxes into pieces slightly smaller than 8-1/2 x 11" (with the grain going the long direction).  I then take a neutral, letterhead weight paper and fold one in half and place over the top edge of the corrugated cardboard piece. Place another piece of paper on the front and back of the cardboard piece and slip it all into a top opening plastic page protector (trim the side off for putting into a notebook).

You can then use double stick tape on the back of the plastic package and stick it to the front of the "board".  The cheapest page protectors work best as the tape does not stick well to the more expensive non glare ones.  I have also seen Plexiglass cut into pieces 8-1/2" x 11 and used the same way by sticking pieces to them using double stick tape.  They weight considerably more but hold up to wear and tear a little better so it depends on whether you are flying or driving.  I also prefer a neutral colored background over the clear background as it is not quite as "busy".I have a box where I stand all the boards on end and people can thumb thru them to see what is on each board.  You could also lay them out on the table and display that way if you don't have a lot of them.  However, be aware people are always looking for somewhere to set their purse when they are paying you.

Karen Benson


Displaying really small items for sale: As a shopper, I would love to see your "VERY small (think in-scale peppermints)" displayed both in the "small (1.5"x1.5") clear plastic bag" with the price AND in a miniature scene or two where you show them being "used". Not only does this let someone get a better look at them out of the bag, but gives them ideas for displaying them. It probably even will show us that we better buy several of your bags so our display will look as nice as yours! LOL  And the bagged ones with the price make shopping easy.

Peggy, in Shoreline, WA


Pricing Tiny Pieces: What the Parkers' Metal Miniatures folks do might work as well for you.  For the miniscule cast metal 1:144 furniture they use a display board with a sample of each item glued to it, labeled with description, price, and number. "Behind the scenes" at the back of their table,  the items are stocked in matching numbered drawers in those stacked plastic parts/tool drawer sets that look sort of like jewelry boxes.  You could make up a similar board and write the piece number for each bonbon or pastry in indelible marker on the plastic storage bags.  Might even use the same drawer units.  They'd hold several bags full of various numbered items per drawer and you could list the piece numbers on the drawer fronts. Seems like a simple, logical system (but someone else may have a better one).

Loretta_Sniarowski


Pricing Tiny Pieces:   you said you keep all your items in tiny bags, which is smart. But can you make a display of a sample of each item, perhaps glued on some sort of a board, with the price in front of each? That way people can see each item clearly, but the ones they pick up to buy will be protected!

Put out a magnifying glass or two on your table as well...for people who   want to more easily see the tiny wonderful details of your work!

Alice Zinn- Pt. St. Lucie FL


Pricing merchandise at shows: One of the most frustrating things about shopping show tables is the lack of easily seen prices on items.  I know all those tiny things can be a  pain to price, but sometimes the difference between buying something and passing it up is how easy it is to determine how much it costs.  And things that are displayed behind glass with prices hidden underneath or things with no prices at all, will get passed by.  Sometimes the dealer is really busy and getting close enough to ask the price is difficult. Sometimes I know it's going to be more than I can afford and wanting to know is just curiousity. But I appreciate dealers who take the time to mark prices clearly.  It makes shopping easier and much more pleasant.  I've never understood the psychology of hidden prices.  Although things that are more expensive seem to have them more often than things that aren't. If something is really small having a display with the ones to buy in marked packages is a good idea.

I realize it's hard to merchandise a mini table because of the size of the items.   Maybe a sample board with prices would be one way to go.

Quinn


Pricing: Putting price tags on my work at shows always gave me heartburn. You work so hard to make a pleasing display and then when you hang or stick the price tags all you see is a sea of white spots! I now use the small jewelry tags that hang by way of a thin dark purple string. I paint the tags dark gray and use a black fine tip marker to write the price of the doll. The tags measure 5/8"x3/8", plenty big enough to and not the first thing you see.

Ellen Poitras


1/2" scale resources/Tools: re: topic of mini tools I stumbled across Mrs Art's Minis and noted some tweezers, scissors, and wire cutters for sale on the supplies page http://www.mrsart.homestead.com/

re: looking for 1/2" scale food, glassware, tableware; here are a few links:
http://www.scaledesigns.com/

http://www.halfscaleminis.com/

http://miniatureconcepts.hypermart.net/index.html

http://www.tinyheirlooms.com/

http://www.dollhousefood.com/

Nursemini


Delays in Mail Orders: Just read the posting from sgiordano@toolkitmail.com (sorry, no name was given)..... It worries me when I hear about customers having problems with receiving merchandise that they've paid for, or having difficulties even receiving a response from a merchant regarding orders..

What worries me most is that with mail orders, we merchants automatically fall under the rules and regulations of the US Postal Service...and the regs are really quite specific about payments and time frames to ship merchandise.   If a payment is received and deposited, the merchant is required to ship the order within 30 days.   If the order can't be filled, the merchant is required to contact the customer in writing to offer a refund, or get an OK from the customer to continue waiting.

Worst case for the customer is that he/she waits longer, but at least knows the order's been received, but delayed.   Worst case for the merchant, if no contact is made to the customer, is called "mail fraud" and the Postal Service has absolutely no tolerance for it.   That's a scary enough prospect to keep me diligent and in contact with my customers...right up there with the terms 'IRS audit' and 'SEC investigation' - DH is a securities broker.   

Laura in OKC


A suggestion for mini stores:       I have been having an idea exchange with a mini store about the qualities I look for in a resale shop from an artist/buyer viewpoint. They liked one of those ideas and suggested I pass it along here on SSD. Soooooo- - - - -

A service that would be very nice at local miniature stores (or shows in towns without mini stores) would be a mini photo studio complete with good lighting, backdrops and/or settings, a quality (macro) camera, knowledgeable photographer, and PC with Internet access.

Keep in mind that many miniers do NOT have all the facilities at home to take top quality photographs. I, for one, simply have not yet learned how to download pics from my camera and put them out to the net. I picture this service as being a free service for customers if pics are limited to digital format. A reasonable charge world be appropriate if film were used in a film camera to generate negs and prints for potential publication. Customer provides own disc or CD blank if digital copy wanted.

       Potential advantages to the shop could be- - - -

  1. Good will
  2. Get customers to bring in their projects for pic (shop while there?)
  3. Encourage increased enthusiasm to complete projects
  4. Generate a rogues gallery of local talent achievements
  5. Help establish or encourage loyalty. ("Would you take free pics of this mini I made with materials from Michael's?")

       Benefits to customers could be - - -

  1. Top quality photographs for records, scrap books, snail and e-mail letters
  2. Pics of achievements on display for friends and neighbors to see
  3. A way for the PC illiterate to get their projects out to galleries, lists, or auction sites.
  4. Increased traffic (& hopefully business) to assure the longevity of the local mini emporium.
  5. Print quality photographs for articles submitted to publications (with appropriate credits to mini shop/photographer) (You pay for film/processing but not necessarily a full 24 exposure roll of portrait quality film)

Mel K. In Las Vegas


Mini Photos: I think that's a great idea... but there should be a charge.   The photographer has to be paid... the camera has to be purchased ... the picture taking area does use up room (that could otherwise display merchandise for sale)... and I think that mini shops are having a very hard time making ends meet without additional expenses.  

But which one of us wouldn't be willing to pay for a very good picture when we need one??   I love the idea!   Or... just offer a free picture for every $100 purchase made at the shop... or in some other way to help the shop to cover the expense of providing that service.

viola


Starting a club: Years ago I started a club by posting a sign on my show table that said something like: "If you would be interested in joining a mini club in this area, please leave your phone number with me" Then I called the people who expressed an interest, and had them meet at my house.We talked about what they wanted in a club, and explained that each person would have to take a turn teaching something. Could be something from their own imagination, or something from a project they read in a book or magazine. The teachers had their turns in alphabetical order. It was also the teacher's responsibility to call all members to remind them of the meeting and to tell them what supplies (not included in the kit the teacher provided) to bring for that project.

I remember that one lady was convinced she could not teach, but we didn't let her off the hook! After having done it for the first time, she not only found it was not difficult, but it turned out that she LOVED teaching and was an eager teacher when her turn came around again.

Our group took turns bringing a dessert and we, at first, had access to a free conference room with free coffee.

We also bought show-and-tell items we made or bought. And for those who wanted to participate, we had a grab bag of gifts donated by participating members. This was done by setting out the donated gifts and placing a paper with a number next to each one. Then matching numbers were put into a 'hat' and participants pulled out a number and found the corresponding number next to the gift to learn what they had won.

It would not be difficult to start a club..and if you don't have a show table to advertise it, you could ask a local mini or craft shop if you could put out your sign. Or you could ask a show promoter if you could put up a 'sandwich' sign at the entry of the show.

Viola


Clear plastic box with black bottom: Try these people. https:// www2.mailordercentral.com/brasspack/secure.asp

Kaye in Altoona


Hat shops: I have two hat shops on my site. They are both listed under Shops. One is an elegant shop called Lauren's Creations, named after my oldest granddaughter. The other is a whimsical shop called Posy Patch Bonnets.It is based on a shop by Joanne Swanson in Dollhouse Miniatures last spring. She used Mrs. Mole as a proprietor. I used a couple of the collector mice and used my Dremel to alter them to accept silk flower bonnets. I also placed my shop in a fake tree trunk. I covered the outside of the foamcore shop with a used popcorn bucket left over from a trip to the movies. I then covered it with pieces of bark picked up in my yard (baked in the oven to remove any bugs) and added silk ivy and pieces of moss. The site is: http://community.webshots.com/user/ljsellers

Juanita in Missouri


Credit Card vendor: I use Bright Star Promotions. I love them. They are nice, helpful, pay quickly, and their service is not complicated to use. Yes, they take a fee, and I have to call them long distance for card approvals (only for web and phone orders)--these costs are all deducted as business expenses on my taxes, of course. I get enough additional business that the small inconvenience and cost is certainly worth it.

Jane Walker


Pros/cons of charge card use? I use Bright Star Promotions for my credit cards. Valerie Rogers is the contact at 502-423-STAR. She is a delight to work with. You do not need the equipment and you write all the charges. You send the slips to her and she pays now twice a month. I've heard of using COSTCO but don't know anything about it. MIAA also has a setup but the machine is $300. Hope this helps.

Marcia Kerby


Disk space and backup: With respect to your desire to have more than one backup of your catalog (and who can blame you!), have you thought of trying an online, off-site disk storage service like: http://www.filesanywhere.com/

I have an account with them, but used their free services for several months. We needed a huge space for graphics files and purchased one of their GIG packages last year. Anyway, its been a real lifesaver on several fronts. First of all you have a safety backup outside your workspace, you can send other folks to the site to download large files, eliminating the restrictions on email attachments and share large files with other members along with friends and colleagues.

Deborah (in Hollywood)


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