The Art of Creativity

The breakdown of the creative process, how much time and energy goes into each and every piece, and why it isn't necessarily "cheap".

I would like to start by saying that the vast majority of the people who have walked through my door over the past 3 months have been overwhelmingly supportive and genuinely interested in the work that I do (Thank you!).  Whether they are creative themselves or not, they realize the work and time that goes into the merchandise I sell and understand the work/effort that is represented by the price tag.

Only one or two have asked me if I’m “firm on the price” of a particular piece, with which I kindly answer “Yes”.  I continually put a lot of thought into the layout of the store and the general presentation of the pieces so that J. Paris Designs does not come off as a flea market or an antique store – where prices are negotiable.  Some people don’t realize that at first – that hard labor has gone into each and every piece – and I understand that.  So no hard feelings.

But the one comment I recently received in regards to a quote I gave someone for custom work stands to be explained.   My goal with this post is to explain and enlighten those who don’t understand what I do.  And let me also state that I, myself, am no expert at running a business (yet).  I’m still learning the ins and outs.  But I’ve always worked for small businesses and know the impact a community can have on one.

The comment I am referring to is “I can buy that cheaper brand new.”

It was in reference to the labor involved in reupholstering a chair.  It was a style I had done before.  I knew how much time would be needed, and I was quick to quote them a number I was confident with.  But it was clearly more than they expected.

And, you know what….they might have been right.  They could probably go to a big box store and purchase a brand new chair – manufactured in and shipped from China that was partially assembled and wrapped in plastic.  And it might have been $25 less than the price I quoted them.

But let me explain the process, in regards to a typical piece of furniture I have in my showroom:

I drive from store to store to hunt it down.

I buy it, haul it, and store it either at my shop or in my home garage – much to my husband’s chagrin. 

I envision it’s potential and dream about what it could be.

I clean it up and wipe it down.

I drive to the store(s) to purchase all required materials.

I make any repairs that are needed.

I prep and prime it for paint.

I paint it, coat after coat.

I glaze and distress it.

I finish it with a protective top coat.

I stage and photograph it for the internet.

I price it based on my time and cost, oftentimes making it far lower than I should.

I display it in my storefront for which I pay rent.

I post it for sale on Facebook, my website, and sometimes Craigslist.

I – hopefully – sell it quickly to make a small profit.

And then, after all of that, I pay taxes, rent, electric, and any other business expense that is required.

When pricing my merchandise, I do try to think of what it might be when it is purchased new in the store.  I check prices on products similar to what I sell all the time.  I know what they go for – it’s my job to.  And I recognize that my pieces started out as “old”.

What I hope to accomplish with my business is to show people that they don’t have to go to the department store and buy furniture that their neighbor has.  There are other options that will be one-of-a-kind, handmade, local, “green”, and/or customized just to their tastes.  I realize there are some people that don’t bother with furniture and decorating their home….that’s okay!  But I want to cater to those who do.  Those who value the hard work and creative talent that I have to offer them.

I hope people realize the work that local business owners put into their business, as well as their merchandise.  You might be able to buy a dozen cupcakes for half the price at a chain grocery store than you would at a local bakery.  But I bet the local bakery’s are better…

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