The FREE winter Craft Racket this month is all about IP law! Got a question or a topic you’d like our expert to cover during the discussion? Post it here, or email it to

Guest Speaker: David Adler, Esq. – principal attorney, Leavens, Strand, Glover & Adler, LLC

Learn the basic differences between copyrights, trademarks and design patents. What do they protect, what don’t they protect, and how does an individual or business obtain them? What can we do, as small businesses, if someone steals a design and replicates it? What sorts of motifs and logos can or cannot be used on handcrafted items for sale? When should crafters create contracts, and what sorts of agreements should an attorney review?

If you’re curious about any of the above questions, or have other legal questions, c’mon over to the Racket! If you’ve got a particularly burning question, please send it to by Wednesday, January 15 We’ll try to answer as many questions as we can during the racket, and attendee questions sent ahead of time will take priority.

CRAFT RACKET – Fall, 2013
Tuesday, January 21
6pm – 9pm
Blue Buddha Boutique
1127 W Granville, Chicago, IL (just west of the Granville stop on the Red Line)
Cost: FREE!
Please RSVP by emailing or calling Blue Buddha at 773.478.3767

Keep on crafting!
The Chicago Craft Mafia

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Pricing Craft Racket

With the New Year coming this is a good time to review and revise your pricing. Based on the conversations we had at our last Craft Racket it was clear that many of us crafters were confused as how to best price our goods or services. I think the best bit of advice comes from Mafia member Maia Singletary, “Raise them now! Don’t wait.”

When pricing keep in mind that you need to charge enough to meet your expenses, pay yourself and have money leftover to invest in the growth of your business. In order to ensure you make a profit, you need to find a pricing system that works and use it as consistently as possible.

Here are three main reasons not to undercharge:

  1. Your work won’t necessarily sell faster-
    Sometimes super low prices may make customers suspicious. They may doubt the quality and wonder if something is wrong with the piece. Also, if someone really wants an item (as long as the price isn’t outrageous), they will pay what you ask
  2. You won’t be able to keep up-
    What happens if you get a large order (whether a large wholesale order, or a person who has fallen in love with your sutff and wants to buy dozens upon dozens for all their friends and family). If you’ve been undercharging, you might realize that you’d lose money on the deal, or it would take you more time than you have to fulfill the order.
  3. You’ll diminish the value of your craft-
    While customers typically don’t understand everything that is involved in the creation of your work (including all the behind-the-scenes expenses necessary to support a small business including marketing, utilities, health insurance, retirement, etc.) it is up to us as an industry to educate consumers about the value of what we do. Also if each dollar a customer gives you costs you the same or more then it is not sustainable for your business. Plus you undervalue the work of other crafters when you under price your goods.

Three things to keep in mind when pricing:

  1. Labor Costs-
    Consider not only your labor costs and think ahead. Do you want to expand your business and have others doing some or all of the production work for you? If so, how will you pay them, including covering workers’ comp, health insurance etc.?
  2. Material Costs-
    You will need to recoup your costs and have enough to invest back into new materials. This can be especially tricky when you are dealing with precious metals or other commodities with variable values over time.
  3. Perceived Value-
    Customers are often willing to pay more than you think! Don’t let your low costs keep your prices low. It is always good to have a couple of products in your line that are cash cows. On the other hand remember that customers might not be willing to pay a high price for another product unless you explain the costs and process behind the piece.

The Mafia members shared some of their pricing advice:

  • How do you price your products?
    I have an Excel spreadsheet that adds all the components with their costs to give me the total materials cost for each bag. I also enter how much time it takes me to make a bag. I then do my best to determine how much I think I’ll be able to sell a bag for and then by looking at my materials cost and my time. I know if it is profitable for me to keep making an item. There are some bags I love making, but they’re just not profitable to make. -Cinnamon CooperThe formula I use for metalsmith is 3 times the cost of supplies.  One for the cost, two for my time and 3 for the profit.  Other items may be different according to the cost of materials. I try to have three levels of prices – $3 to $10, $15 to $30 and everything above – available at all shows.  4. After I set a price, I go to Etsy and other artist shops to see if I can find something in the same category and see what has sold and for what dollar amount. -Lucy ClasenI price (and estimate) my products with a general formula of material cost plus printing time plus design time, and adjust as needed for custom work. Developing a collection of ‘line items’ was also key in allowing me to estimate much faster (i.e. 100 flat notes, custom design, size A2, with envelopes = x). One trick that I learned the hard way is to estimate per piece for clients who are unsure how many they’d like, so that when/if they drastically change their order quantity you can account for your costs already.- Lydia Evans
  • What is one learning experience you’ve had regarding pricing?Sales can be easy ways to clear inventory and generate fast cash, but they can also have the negative effect of cheapening your work in the eyes of new and existing clients. Seek out interesting and new ways to market your work at its normal price and you will always be happy with the result. – Jason PikeOnce I started having items at a variety of price points I started doing a little better at fairs. -Rachel GedemerI need to value the work that I do and price things accordingly so that I am not paying myself $2 an hour. I think there is a misconception of how much time and effort it takes to make something handcrafted- ‘haters are gonna hate’. –Kandy ChristensenI used to think that wholesale price is 50% of retail, but then I found some outlets that want to receive the goods at 40% of retail because they want to mark up the items 2.5x. It was definitely worthwhile for me to have my items in these stores, but it meant I had to adjust my pricing…just when I thought I had conquered the pricing game! – Rebeca Mojica
  • If you could travel back in time to your early days as a crafter and give yourself one piece of pricing advice, what would it be?One piece of pricing advice I would give myself is to survey a little. Find out what similar items go for both handmade and mass-produced. Ask friends how much they would pay for something like that. Determine who the target buyers are and how much or little they’re willing to pay for something. – Michelle KaffkoWhen I began, I made the mistake that many rookie artists make in terms of pricing my work: I went too low. At the time I didn’t really have the sharpness of mind to factor in the price of my materials or even think about the time I put into each one-of-a-kind piece – I just wanted to sell the jewelry I created – and instead, I slapped a price onto everything that seemed inexpensive and doable for everyone. Had I the chance to blink back in time and give myself a cosmic 2×4 upside the head, I’d advise younger me to do more research into the market of similar types of jewelry, and price my work with a little more regard to many factors instead of trying to please the broadest audience. – Jason PikeRaise them now! Don’t wait. With higher prices comes higher perceived value. Also, start by determining the wholesale price, not the retail price. If you can’t make money at wholesale, your craft business may not be sustainable. –Maia Singletary

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No matter the size of our business, we all have hopes for that 1 contact, that 1 order that will be large enough for us to push our business to the next level, for us to justify quitting our full-time jobs and go solo-entrepreneur. So we are a group that is ripe for exploitation of that hope. So, consequently, we often get exploited. Today I received this email:

David Morgan <>
2:19 AM (7 hours ago)
to cinnamon

Hello, My name is DAVID MORGAN, I want to order some product items from your store to my below address in Scotland but before i proceed, i will like to confirm the type of credit card you accept as payment (VISA OR MASTER CARD) and if you can ship to the below address. Please let me know asap, so i can proceed with my request.

Best Regards



18 Pulteney St, Ullapool,


Highland IV26 2UP Scotland

Phone: +35722661000


My hear leapt with joy for a second before my cooler head, “research this guy and see what you find.” So I did, and discovered that this name has been used on shipping scams. Thankfully Smitten Kitten has a collection of scam emails to share that should show up fairly prominently in Google. The hardest part to realize in all of this, is that the scammer doesn’t care anything at all about your product. They only care about the shipping they con you into paying. Amy gives a great breakdown of the scam. But essentially the scam artist gets you the craft artist to pay for the shipping cost upfront and then you charge back the cost to the scammer. However, the scammer uses stolen credit cards so even if you do get a charge to go through, it will get reversed and you’ll be out the exorbitant shipping charges, and quite possibly out product if the order goes far enough before you realize you’ve been duped.

So, if you get an email from someone overseas, or even within your own country that just seems a little too good to be true. Use your Google skills to see what you can find out about the company, never pay upfront for shipping, and be suspicious of every order you didn’t solicit.

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After a bit of a hiatus, the quarterly Craft Rackets are back! We’re looking forward to hosting dialogs on topics of interest to crafters every January, April, July, and October. With the holiday season right around the corner, we thought we’d kick off our Rackets on October 16 with the ever-important subject of pricing.  Find out what your peers think you should be charging for your work!The Racket includes our popular interactive pricing demonstration: bring ONE of your handcrafted items along with a sign or tag displaying the materials or anything else important to know about the process to make your work. Do not include your name or business name.

During the Racket, everyone will guess prices for our work, and we’ll choose a few items to review as a group. Various Mafia members will also share their expertise in pricing one’s work in a handout you can take home with you. Whether you are a new or experienced craft entrepreneur, this is sure to be an informative and fab evening of socializing, talking shop, and sharing a snack or two with your fellow crafters!

CRAFT RACKET – Fall, 2013
Wednesday, October 16
6pm – 9pm
Blue Buddha Boutique
1127 W Granville, Chicago, IL (just west of the Granville stop on the Red Line)
Cost: FREE!
Please RSVP by emailing or calling Blue Buddha at 773.478.3767

New members
NEW MEMBERS!And at the racket, you can meet our new members!  Freshly initiated into the Mafia, we’d like to welcome Jason Pike of Lad Named Felix, Maia Singletary of Astrida Naturals, Rachel Gedemer of Stitch, Kandy Christensen of Meandering Design, and Lydia Evans of Letterpress by Lydia.

Our new members have some great ideas for ways in which the Mafia will promote small businesses in the arts and crafts industries, foster connections between our peers, and some great outlets and events to get our craft on.  We’re excited for 2014!

Keep on crafting!
The Chicago Craft Mafia

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Makers Mini Conference

Lillstreet Art CenterDabble, and Renegade Craft Fair hosted the Makers Mini Conference at the Lillstreet Loft a couple of weeks ago. It was a great opportunity for makers to hear the experiences of other artisans and the assistance that the Chamber of Commerce can provide for entrepreneurs.

The panel was made up of Katie Mills of Lady Faye Jewelry, Marco of Alapash Meaningful Terrariums and Nora Renick-Rinehart of Fiberista Nora.

Questions centered around how they started, how to balance creativity and running a business, that whole work life balance thing and what advice would they have given to themselves as they started out. What was great about the panel is that they each had varied experiences. Nora mixes teaching with making and has had an Etsy shop since 2008. Katie opened her business after taking a class at Lillstreet. After taking a class she decided to do Renegade and took off from there. Marco made a couple of terrariums as a gift and then the demand for more came pouring in. He has also opened up a storefront in Ravenswood.

I would say the key takeaways from the panel were-

  • Collaborate: each panelist mentioned that collaboration was also how they became inspired.
  • Budget: Marco would take half the money from each terrarium he sold and put it to buying new terrarium supplies and the other half towards opening a store.
  • Set goals- each panelist talked about how important it was for them to set goals. Marco finds it useful to write those goals down.

Rudy Flores from the Lincoln Square/Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce stopped by and talked about what the Chamber of Commerce can do for local businesses. He said that is probably the best place for a business to start. They are particularly adept at helping people navigate through the red tape of the City of Chicago.

I hope they will have more events like this. It was educational and it was great to have some time to talk to the panelist afterwards.

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