Folksy Ltd

Lessons from Liberty's

(Ronald Koorm) #1

I don’t know who else watched the Channel 4 programme on Liberty’s on 12th November, where edited bits were shown of sellers pitching for orders in 3 minute slots?

I wondered if the programme put people off going to the big retailers or made them more determined ? They only select 10-15 from many hundreds of applicants, as they stated. Even in those few, after meetings, some have to drop out, and go their own way. Some on Folksy even attended the event, I understand.

I was intrigued by the lady who sold the children’s felt crowns. She had to drop her wholesale price considerably, to get interest. The result was she would make £5 per unit after her material and production costs.

Not clear if there were packaging or overhead costs on top. So it seems some will work for low income / below minimum wage just to say “I’m selling at Liberty’s or xyz store…”

That’s fine, providing they are aware, and are also liable to perform on contractual agreements for quantity and quality to a major player. They might also get other opportunities to market other products.

Back to the toy-making lady, - A lot depends if the crafting of those toys were her only business, or like many, she was boosting her main income with crafting. What do others think ?

(Christine Shephard) #2

Hmmm…I wonder how many people at Liberty’s would work for £5 per hour? If they were buying them in from overseas, they’d be accused of exploitation or using sweat-shop labour. Seems it’s ok for crafters in this country to be exploited though, even if they do appear more than willing! It makes it very hard for the crafting community to establish fair prices when some crafters agree to work for next to nothing. Maybe we need a union :smile:

(Claire Davis) #3

Well I suppose it’s just like when you go to a craft fair and see some of the work that’s ridiculously underpriced… and it makes your own stuff look hideously expensive! I think craft is often seen as something that’s done as a hobby, kind of not like a real job at all. Which is a shame for those of us trying to make a living out of it!

(Sarah Eves) #4

I would imagine the lady was actually working for less than £5 an hour when everything was taken into account.
She stated ‘‘about an hour’’ when put on the spot.
I know when I say ‘‘about two hours’’ to make a cushion I’m always underestimating by around a third as it sounds better :wink:

Sarah x

(Denise Milward) #5

Getting paid for the time spent for everyone on here is Cloud Cuckoo Land. It would be great to charge even minimum wage for the hours put into a piece…even the simplest pieces(on the face of it) would be outrageously prohibitive to buyers. I’ve been told so often that I under charge but I haven’t got the brass neck to ask more. If I look at a time consuming piece like my heavily beaded bracelets, I’d be asking over £100 just for labour!

(Christine Shephard) #6

I wonder how many plumbers or builders would worry about charging that much for their time?

(Heidi Meier) #7

I was also struck by the comment that Libertys markup was 4.5. Personally, I think the comment about sweat shops and slave labour is spot on. Retailers that rake in millions of pounds profits each year can afford, I think, to pay their suppliers a little bit more. A wholesale mark-up of 2.4 is bad enough, but 4.5!!!

The programme was an eye opener and quite frankly, I would reconsider buying anything from Libertys from now on.

And if you are making something that has no originality, then fine, don’t expect to be rewarded for your efforts, but if you are creating something original, which requires skill to create, then you have every right to expect to be adequately compensated.

If you want to earn a living from what you do, I do think that sometimes you have to think about how you can make something a bit simpler, so that you don’t spend hours and hours on it and therefore your audience can afford to buy it. I don’t think that is compromising artistic integrity I think that is just being aware of your market.

But if you are creating something that genuinely takes days to produce, then by rights it must be something pretty special, and therefore, you really should be charging for it accordingly!! If someone wants something badly enough, they will find a way to save up for it and value it all the more…

(Lizzie Gillum, Bedfordshire, Uk ) #8

You’re right - I would rather buy direct from the maker, than from Liberty’s with such a huge mark-up. They should pay their makers properly and accept a lower mark-up. I’m sure they have expenses, but so do the makers.

(Minerva) #9

Yesterday I was at a well known shop when a scarf caught my eye from a distance. My first thought was that it’s machine knitted but the pattern used didn’t convince me. I went closer to have a better look. It was thick, (usually machine knitted items are made with very fine yarns), it looked hand knitted, the yarn felt like it and the ends were weaved in. So it was definitely hand knitted. It was made in a Far East country, the scarf was quite long and the price was £25. Taking out the profit the shop is making how much would the knitter have earned?

Of course in other countries wages are different, the currency is not as strong as the pound etc…But if I went to the shop and say that I can also knit scarves, I’m suspecting they’ll treat me with the same mentality…they’ll expect me to knit for free, basically, so they can earn profit. A lot of shops would take 50% for the work we do. I have tried to do wholesale but quickly gave up. I am not interested in dropping my prices a lot for someone else. I also have a business to run.

(Grimm Exhibition) #10

Ive taped the programme, I shall watch with even more interest now!

(Leathermeister) #11

People need to realize that Liberty’s is a prime store in a prime location, their costs are phenomenal. That aside the key to selling wholesale as we have found is speed of production, if you are sewing you don’t have the time to use domestic sewing machines you have to use commercial machines with their higher speed. Many crafts get economy of scale by buying raw materials in large quantities and adapting designs to suit a faster production. In our sector hand tooling of leather is a wonderful dream we had to compromise this dream to produce 50 to 100 items from our in house made embossing plates in the time it would have taken us to tool one piece. It is only in this way can Crafters hope to offer products for wholesale and frankly the example of the childrens crowns and the price she was asking would be wholely unrealistic as a production piece other than a short term novelty item,potentially she could not produce enough herself to seriously offer wholesale without out sourcing the manufacture which would probably mean china.

(Ronald Koorm) #12

I heard the Liberty chap mention 2.5 mark-up, and my wife who watched, said she also heard 2.5. It was a bit quiet that bit, so may have got it wrong, but would really be shocked if they said 4.5. Was this in another part of the programme ?

Have to check on catch-up TV !

x 2.5 mark-up tends to be the ‘norm’ in a lot of businesses, but I can’t talk for retail trade.

(Ronald Koorm) #13

I do think that making a relatively few , crafted, handmade items cannot always be scaled-up to meet retailer’s requirements easily. You hit the nail on the head !

I could easily get my handmade bookmarks made in China or India for a fraction of the price that I make them for, but then they would probably not be handmade.

(Ronald Koorm) #14

The bracelet looks fabulous, and clearly a lot of work has gone into it.

(Sarah Eves) #15

I heard 2.5 too - definitely for the lady with the crown.

The crowns cost £5 each to make, her wholesale price was £10 and Liberty were going to sell them for £25.

(Heidi Meier) #16

Maybe it was 2.5 then, I will also watch on catch up!! That’s not so bad then… :smile:

(Denise Milward) #17

Thank you.

(Elaine) #18

I loved watching this series last year, so really pleased to hear it’s back on. Interesting thread - had to cringe a bit when they said something about they haven’t seen any felt yet, that’s good! Yikes! Picked up lots of insider tips and inspirational words from the last series, hope this one will be just a inspirational.

I think the little dog raincoats are a fabulous idea - they look so cool. And the scented nail varnish - why hasn’t that been thought of before - isn’t she such a lovely lady.


(Heidi Meier) #19

Okay - have watched again - it was definitely 2.5 markup- ‘disgusted of Colchester’ is no more…

Now I’m looking forward to the next instalment - who fancies a mass Folksy line up next time?? I hope we get to see more of the successful products as it’s good to get an understanding of what they are after. Originality and quality seem to be the two things I’ve picked up on so far.

(Minerva) #20

I watched that episode as well. That was interesting. The two things I picked up: 1) if you have a strong brand, you can make bold decisions. 2) the backbone of your business are your loyal, returning customers. Those two things take years to achieve, but they are worth any time and money spent.