After the kit cost breakdown, I promised you a breakdown of pattern cost. Happy to do it, especially after seeing yet another two arguments about how “my sharing my copy online doesn’t hurt the designers” in groups I’m in. I’m generally an optimistic lady, but I’m starting to get very frustrated.
- To start with, we can drop that retail price down to $7.00, because the wholesale price is generally 1\2 of retail. (Don’t blame the shops. They’ve got an ENTIRE set of additional expenses to keep open so you can pet fibers, charts and fabric in person, and generally aren’t taking home more than I do per chart…)
- That actually wouldn’t be too bad for me. But most shops don’t have time to research and purchase from individual designers. So I have to sell that chart to a distributor. Distributors usually pay about 30-40% of WHOLESALE to the manufacturer, in this case, me. Let’s assume the best and take 40%. That’s $2.80 of 7.
- NOW I get to begin deducting my costs. First, let’s take the plastic hang-bag. Yeah, I buy them wholesale. But it’s still 10 cents or so. So Now I’m at 2.70.
- Paper. I use good quality paper, because I want you to be able to use your chart for a while, and I had a medieval theme going when I started – so I used natural parchment. This is 4 cents a page, and a simple 14.00 chart is going to run about 8 pages. So. There goes another 32 cents. Now I’m at 2.38.
- Printing. I print my own. Most designers didn’t have that luxury until relatively recently, and had to pay for huge print runs at a printer, leaving them stuck with (and taxable for) whatever stock didn’t sell. It runs an average of 9 cents a page when I figure in the color page at the beginning. (It used to be that I also had to pay 30 cents for a print of the model photo and glue it to the front page. This is better by far!) So. 72 cents more for the printing. And that doesn’t actually include the cost of the printer, which will need replaced when it wears out… Now I’m at 1.66.
- Ah. Intangibles. I’m responsible for shipping costs to the distributor. That varies, but usually runs in at about $20.00 per 150 charts or so. I can figure with that. That’ about 14 cents a pattern. So deduct that. Now I’m down to 1.52.
- Out of that 1.52 a pattern I still have to pay the electricity bill, taxes (self-employment as well as standard income taxes, and BOTH halves of my FICA), whatever I paid a model stitcher, cost of those per chart are dependent on how many charts actually sell…. THEN I can think about paying my mortgage and eating.
And yes, I might still be able to save a few pennies by having someone else print the charts… but there’s a downside to that, too. To lower the price, I’d need to order at least 5000 copies. While I know designers who have, *I* have never sold 5000 copies of one chart! And if I have printed stock on hand, I have to pay additional taxes on inventory at the end of the year!!!!
So that’s why my charts are so expensive (and from discussions with other designers, my numbers aren’t much different from theirs). When someone copies one and gives it to thousands of their friends on social media or the sharing (should be called stealing) sites, they are taking away another 40 cents or so PER time that chart is DOWNLOADED that could go to paying my mortgage. Or for dinner. So I can create another design without taking another office job that will eat up my designing time and my soul. It’s no wonder designers are getting burned out even more these days than they did when printing was so much more expensive.
Edited to Add:
An acquaintance online was kind enough to point out that I left out the cost of materials (some of them come from the manufacturers gratis as a thanks for designing with them, but many many others don’t). I also left out the cost of finishing/framing/making up the model and the time to photograph it and fiddle with it in the computer until it looks like the stitching so you know what you’re getting! So include the cost of computer and software, too. When a designer says they only make 40 cents or so on a pattern, they mean it!