Pricing Creativity: The Craft Fair Pricing Debate

How can we say we value creativity, if we don't price it properly? The same goes for any work - pricing confidence lies within.

Several years ago, I wrote a Facebook White Paper (aka a post) on the topic of Bake Sale Ecomics. Here it is, for your entertainment and edification: 

I recently attended my 12th Advent Fair at my kids’ school, I found myself having some additional thoughts on the matter.

For background, our school is a hive of creativity. It doesn’t follow the standard national curriculum, and our kids are encouraged to be and develop their creativity. It’s why I chose it.

However, there is often an energetic dissonance between the values being propounded.

On the one hand, creativity is highly valued within the teaching and school environment. On the other, when it comes to events like the advent fair, incredible talent, skill and time consuming work are priced in a way that is an insult not just to the makers and artists, but to any hope our kids have of believing in creativity as a path to a viable future.

Now, you might argue that it’s all for a good cause, and people are donating on that basis. Well, let me refer you back to my original white paper, where we can clearly see that it would be easier and more efficient to just stick some cash in the kitty, and get on with something else. We also have to acknowledge that there's a fear based aspect to this approach: If we price it properly, no one will buy anything. They'll take their money elsewhere. 

On this particular occasion, I was given a stall of incredible work to manage. One of the parents had made and framed the most beautiful paper cut art. Any one of the pieces must have taken her several hours, not to mention the time taken to develop the skills, or the outlay to have them framed. It was an incredibly generous donation, and I was gobsmacked when I saw the prices that were attached. One said £7. Another said £20. I know full well that in one of the little trendy galleries nearby that you could have stuck a couple of digits on those without anyone batting an eye. In fact, they’d probably still sell out. They were incredible. Kicking myself that I didn’t take some photos!

In any case, I haggled the prices up, and managed to get the bigger ones priced for £45, and the smaller ones for £15. But it was still uncomfortable to see this much work and talent being sold off for nowhere near its true value. We undermine creativity, and how it’s valued when we don’t price it properly. And in order for parents to value the opportunities that creativity can open up, they need to see it being valued too - especially in a place that purports to develop creativity.

But I suppose this isn’t just limited to school craft sales, is it?

I listened to a very interesting discussion on pricing recently, and it seems that this inability to price properly is not really limited to the school bake sale or craft fair. Our ability to price our work (especially for intangible knowledge based work) is often tied directly to our sense of self worth. Our ability to put a value on our output reflects very much how we value ourselves.

I in no way claim to be a pricing guru, but I absolutely see the connection between our self-understanding and brain awareness and what it is that we’re comfortable to charge.

Fortunately, we have good old neuroplasticity, so what we’re comfortable with now, and the stories that we tell ourselves about that, is all open to change.

We just have to ask ourselves if we’re open to something better.

PS: I sold most of the exquisite paper cuts that day, and made no bones about telling people that they were significantly underpriced. I'm not saying I felt good about the pricing, but it was an improvement on the original tags! 

If you enjoyed this article, you might like this episode of my podcast, where I talk about realising that I treated investing in my business and investing in myself differently, all while choosing a new coffee machine!

Did you know that you can join me for a 4 week blended approach programme to learn some key neuroscience concepts and tools to enhance effectiveness and emotional management? This ground-breaking programme will open in March. It will be a small, intimate group, and you'll also get 1-1 time with me outside of the group. Sound good? Drop me a line: [email protected]