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Fair trade or exploitation?

Harris Tweed

I love making bags.

I love making bags. 

I love making bags. 

Sometimes I just need to remind myself why I do this. I know we all have different ideas about value. I see designers selling often "ugly" bags for huge prices and wonder how much profit they make off a £1500 handbag made in Vietnam.

I'm having a "feeling annoyed" type of day as I feel exploited by someone thinking they should take 20% commission for selling a bag that I designed and made myself. 

So I set it out for them and they still don't see the issue 🤔

I sell a bag for £50, for example. The tweed, cotton lining, foam facing, clips, fasteners, spray adhesive, zips and even needles & thread all cost money. On average £25-35 per bag. We will call it £30 for this. £4.85 1st class signed for postage, a postage bag (a few pence) and a 12 mile round trip drive to the PO. 

The average bag takes 3-4hrs work (not including the initial designing) from drawing out, cutting out, fitting zips, lots of pressing, constructing handles, constructing the bags, hand sewing on labels. 

20% commission would leave me a £40 sale..... So what's MY hourly rate? 

So this person suggested I should just raise my prices to cover the 20% 🤔

I've spent 3 yrs getting to know my customers, my markets and even my competitors.

Im not a scale manufacturer making Harris Tweed bags in India for sale at £100 each and making a big profit !!

I'm not an "artist" making weird and wonderful bags and selling them, for a proper mark up of my time, at £300 + each!!

I'm just an owd doll who loves making bags. 

I love designing them. I love making them. I love going out and buying fabric that I love sewing. 

And what you're getting, for your hard earned £50, is a unique handbag that's properly sewn, no scrimping on the fabric, double seams, time taken over every process. A bag you are getting for practically nothing because I love making bags. 

I'm not raising my prices so someone else can make more money off my hard work than I do. 

Not sure I feel much better for getting that off my chest..... But sometimes things just need saying. 🙄


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  • Sharon Adams on

    I agree, I’m a quilter. And sometimes lord if other hone sewn items. Yep you can get them from lots of other countries, but keeping this local keeps people all over the USA in business. I say you get what you pay for, and if you get something we gave made it’s far better quality then over seas.
    People just don’t value homemade items like they use to, is sad and disheartening. But I will never stop, and I will pass this art down to my granddaughter, my niece, and anyone else that wants to learn.

  • Deb Jacobs Cornish on

    I too make bags for all the same reasons you do. I love the whole process and they are well made just like yours.
    I totally understand where you are coming from. We do it cause we love to do it. I wish the public (our customers) could understand what goes into it. When they see a price that they think is too high and
    really I’m only making a $15 profit…..Really.
    Keep sewing my friend, it’s our
    calm. 💕

  • Cat Capstick on

    I’m in total agreement with you. Making jewellery is the same to be honest. Your bags are stunning and yet really good value for money too. Where jewellery is concerned pricing is cost + time x2 for wholsesale and cost + time x4 for retail which I don’t agree with. Pricing is a serious bone of contention for all of us because it makes us feel queasy touting our wares and we always under price. I think if we feel it’s the right price then nobody has any right to question your rationale at all. You love making them. You charge a fair price. It’s your business and anyone saying otherwise lacks insight. Try not to let the idiots get to you and keep making thise gorgeous bags!

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