For the past two weeks on After the Jump, I’ve been exploring the world of independent design through the lens of artists and designers. My goal was to try to connect makers’ stories with their goods and let the buying public in on some of the hidden costs and difficulties associated with handmade and independent work. So often people comment about wanting to see locally made, handmade goods, but also wanting to see price points be below $25- but those things rarely go together. So I invited artists to join me to explain the cost of doing business, from the time put into a single piece to the cost of finding ethical local labor and materials to the cost of promoting and creating a sustainable business. My hope was that having more information might make it easier for people to at least understand why those costs were what they were.
The story wasn’t quite complete with only designers talking, so this week I invited two successful shop owners, Michele Varian from NYC and Erin Austen Abbott of Amelia in Oxford, MS, to discuss independent design from the perspective of the shop owner. From tough discussions about the realities and necessities of price mark ups, to the way online selling platforms have not adequately prepared independent designers for the world of wholesale. Their points and feedback were fascinating and are so eye-opening when it comes to understanding why the handmade work we love so much costs more than what we see in fast-design and big box stores. Thanks so much to Michele and Erin for joining me- if you’re ever in NYC or Oxford, please check out their shops and say hi. xo, grace