by Carla Crowfoot
Illusions Magickal Arts Creations
My crafting centers around the magickal world of fragrance. We started with selling handmade soap and candles in 1999 and have branched out into incense, perfume oils, and other bath products.
The key to our success has been finding new ways to use the basic ingredients we were already using. That strategy enables us to save money by buying basic ingredients at lower prices. It also widens the selection available to our current customers, ensuring we already have potential buyers for our new creations.
There are two main drawbacks to selling handmade soap and candles. First, it is extremely messy. I've ruined my kitchen counter with lye. I can't count how many clothes were stained beyond wearing in public before I learned to change into my "candle clothes" before touching wax, colors or fragrance oils.
The second challenge is monotony. Creating these products is exactly like cooking. While it's fun to make candy and cookies all day a week before Christmas, doing it every single day for hours on end gets very tiring.
Many crafters tend to under value their labor and price their products too low. The money you make must cover your labor as well as ALL expenses, including shipping and delivery costs, advertising expenses, show fees if you vend, packaging and displays, and many other things.
It's easier to start with your prices a little high than it is to raise them as you realize you aren't covering your costs and labor. You can always adjust them down as you gain market experience. Even better, you can put things on sale in a slow market without cannibalizing your prices long term.