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I’m Louise. Blogger. Wife. Designer of TruLu Couture Veils + Accessories.  If you’d like to know more, check out my bio.

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Monday
Feb062012

{VEIL GIVE-AWAY!} Designer vs. Artisan? You Decide. 

*DEEP BREATH* OK, I think I’m going to get my teeth knocked in for this post, but you know that’s never stopped me before. I do want to preface this with the fact that  I started this little give-away/contest as a personal project. I wanted to just see. For you to understand why I did what I did, you might need to read this first. They are definitely related.

If you don't care to read my ramblings on this project, just look at the pictures and scroll down to enter. But if you are even just a teeny tiny little bit of  a conscientious bride, you should read.  I'm just sayin.....

Got the gist of things? Good, let’s move on.

This is how it started: I got lost on the internet again, ended up on Pinterest again, which took me to a picture from BHLDN.com. It was a picture of their  Dotted Voile Veil. It cost $160 and I thought that was pretty pricey, as are all things at BHLDN.  I saw the alternate photo and noted that the veil had some doodads and stuff and thought that $160 was an okay price with all the little flowers and crystals and stuff.

Then I read a comment from a purchaser/reviewer on this veil:

I was disappointed just like the last reviewer. I thought that the veil came with the bow and white flower pin. It doesn't it is just a piece of fabric barely attached with clear twine to a metal clip. I can't believe I spent $160.00 on it. If you get the bow and clip as well your total cost would be $260.00. Still debating on whether I will keep it. If you can find the fabric you can easily make it yourself.

First off, her math is a little wonky. The price of the bow is $200, the veil is $160, that means together they would be $360, not $260, GAH! She also included a photo:

image

THIS for $160!

So I was all I CAN TOTALLY MAKE THAT FOR A TON LESS AND SELL IT FOR A TON LESS!  So that’s what I started doing. I have some dotted tulle (“voile” means “veil” in French, so it the same shit essentially), I have some little doodads, let’s see what I can make.

The description of the bow thing is as follows:

…spray of enameled petals and glittering Swarovski stones in the midst of a loopy tulle bow. French dotted Swiss nylon, tulle, enameled brass flowers, Swarovski crystals.

So I don’t have Swarovski crystals on hand, but I do have some vintage goodies I could play around with that include a brass filigree flower, some vintage rhinestones and little vintage white plastic flowers with rhinestone centers. Some of the pieces aren’t in the best shape, but it was just a side project, so who cares, right? 

But wait, do you want to know WHY I wanted to try this? I wanted to see what it would price out to be. I wanted to see what my time and cost of goods would come out to.

Below is what I came up with (all on the left) and how it compares to the BHLDN items (all on the right). Check it:

 BLHDN1

 BLHDN1

 20390126_011_a

  20390167_011_a

 BHLDN2

Dotted6

Not bad, right? Pretty damn close if I do say so myself. While I was making this, in my head I was a little worried about selling it. It’s a purposeful knock-off. I don’t want to steal ideas and sell them as my own. That’s not my bag. I know the material isn’t identical, the doodads aren’t the same, there’s more pouf to the bow; legally BHLDN would have no recourse against me even if I did sell it.

I just saw the pricing and I threw up a little in my mouth. It was so gross. Now, little ol’ me? Making these pieces? It cost me next to nothing. The material I had on hand, the little plastic flowers were some of my grandmother’s old missing-its-partner earrings I took apart. Same for the filigree brass flower. The tulle in the bow I already had. However, if I was going to price this out based on economies of scale, purchasing quantity buys (as a large company like BHLDN would naturally do), the materials themselves? I’m going to estimate that the cost of the raw goods is NO MORE than $10, total. A couple crystals, some enameled flowers and material…can’t be more than $10. Simply can NOT. So, let’s pretend I’m a normal retailer and I take a 50-60% mark-up, that’s would put this at $22.50 or so, thus far compared to $360.

But don’t get your panties in a twist just yet. We haven’t talked about labor. It took me about 4 hours to make, futzing around with things, taking earrings apart,  making it just so. Based on BHLDN’s info, the designer of this piece is Debra Mooreland. It also states that the artisans that work in Debra’s Ohio studio “painstakingly build each piece by hand,” according to her original prototype.

And I guess that’s where we get down to the nitty gritty. How much is that time worth? The item is made in America, which means it will be more expensive. I’m OK with that. How much should an artisan make in an hour for copying a prototype? Now we’re just talking about skilled labor, not a designer.

Let’s just pretend for a second that I am one of these artisans and I’m making this from a prototype (which is basically what I did). I have all the materials on hand and I know what to do. No futzing. Streamlined process. On the high end, I’d say two hours, MAX. Probably less after the first 3 or 4. What is my time worth? What is Debra Mooreland’s time worth? What is one of her artisan’s time worth? What’s the licensing fee that BHLDN is paying Debra Mooreland (in my décor line of work, the range is 3-8%)? How much is overhead? Let’s say I charge $50 (I totally don’t) per hour for my work. In a perfect BHLDN world, you’ve got $100 in labor, plus the $10 for the parts and that equals $110. Add in the 50-60% markup and you’ve got $220 on the LOW side. Add in licensing fees and overhead and all of  sudden, the price starts to make sense.

And what if BHLDN approached ME and asked me to be one of their featured artists? Would I object to the pricing structure to have items made here in America and to have my work distributed through a well-know entity? Is $50 an hour reasonable? Is $100? Thought provoking, no?

Me? I priced this out the same way as I do all my items. I pay myself slightly more than minimum wage per hour (which disgusts me, but it is so), I charge for materials, packaging and generally, I take less than a 50% margin. I don’t do these things because I’m stupid. I charge less because I’m not well-known. I’m relatively new in the industry. My “brand” doesn’t command a high price…yet. However, to make all things fair, I gave myself a 50% mark up on this. The total cost I’d charge? $105 for both pieces compared to $360

So I have 2 points in all this. First? Shop around. Shop on Cargoh. Shop on Etsy.  Look around and you can find skilled artisans working hard to make ends meet, creating beautiful, quality product without the licensing fees and overhead.

Second? You can get this for FREE because you were patient and read all the bullshit that went through my head on this one.

Here’s what you gotta do:

1. Leave a comment. Anything will do: rant, praise, rambling jargon. (1 Entry)

2. Help me reach 1000 Twitter followers (I’m SO CLOSE!) and follow me @T30SB. Tweet this message: Veil Giveaway @T30SB http://bit.ly/zrkuCt . Leave a SEPARATE comment here that you did it. Already a follower? Tweet the same and let me know you are! (1 Entry)

3. Help me reach 1000 Facebook followers (I’m a little further behind on this one) and hit up my page here.  Leave a SEPARATE comment that you did it. Already a follower? Tell me you are in your additional comment! (1 Entry)

4. Follow me on Pinterest (you should really be a member already!) and tell me you did so by leaving a SEPARATE comment! Already follow me? Fantastic. Tell me about in your additional comment. (1 Entry)

So that’s FOUR chances to win! The contest will run for a week, ending on Sunday, February 12th at noon, EST. I’ll announce the winner on Monday, February 13th! Just in time for Valentine's Day! WOOT!

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Reader Comments (41)

This is beautiful and needs to go to someone who's not already married, but I feel the need to comment!

I love that you've taken the time to break down how pricing works for handmade objects, both for BHLDN and independent designers. In a weird way, I actually kind of like that BHLDN's prices are so ridiculous, because people will see similar, handmade items for sale on Etsy and not suffer from sticker shock. In the world of factory-made, mass-produced shit everywhere, people expect to get everything for cheap. They don't understand that the fabric you've used is $20/yard, or that hand-sewing takes a LOT of time and that we kind of need to justify that time by actually making a profit (at least minimum wage, please) on the item we're selling. Hopefully you haven't experienced this since the wedding industry itself already lends an expectation of higher prices, but I can tell you from experience that the handmade bedding industry is nearly impossible. If I had a dollar for every person that told me I could "be set for life" making bedding sets and selling them at around $200 each (when the materials alone are in the range of $160), I'd have more money than I ever made toiling for weeks on end in my sewing room. </rant>

Absolutely lovely giveaway and great information here. Thanks!

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCathryn

Thanks Cathryn! I love the sharing of info!

February 6, 2012 | Registered CommenterLouise

I always wonder about the quality to price ration with BHLDN, Anthropologie, etc. I actually like your fuller bow better! Thanks for keeping it real!

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

I "liked" you on FB!

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

...and I'm following you on Pinterest now! Btw...I haven't commented before but I am in absolute LOVE with your capelets as well. The mink is so dreamy!

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

I love it! I needddddd it. I am so lost with this veil stuff.

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah B

I'll added you on facebook!

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSarah B

I actually enjoyed the ramblings and the logic (and disclaimers). Entertaining and informative. Sign me up and I'm going to check you out on Pinterest right now.

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBarb C.

I know, I know, I say this all the time. I sound like a weirdo hero-worshipping goob. BUT I REALLY DO LOVE YOU SO MUCH! This is a great piece - we all bag on Anthro & Co., but you've shown that it is reasonable. The discussion on US-made is great too. The local business paper just had an article about "Reshoring" and how companies didn't do a FULL cost/benefit before they sent manufacturing offshore and so are bringing those jobs back. It's a crazy cycle - we want things to be cheap because we are not paid a living wage. To keep prices low they do all sorts of nasty stuff. But then we don't have as many jobs because they're sent offshore to keep prices low.

I feel like I'm rambling. Sorry. But WELL DONE, T30SB.

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJennie

Thanks Jennie! I actually did a cost analysis back in 2008 when I was looking at importing some pressed glass from China. They didn't have the look I wanted, which was a look that was made here in the USA back in the day. China couldn't do it for a good cost, so I started looking around locally and found factories in Ohio and West Virginia who were using the old manufacturing processes. So I did the analysis from start to finish and long story short? It was a mere 8% more expensive to buy domestically, however, the footprint we would leave would be WAY WAY smaller. I thought we could eat the 8% for a Made in the USA slant as well as the ability to advertise that smaller footprint.
Sounds good, right?
I was DENIED, not only for the 8% reduction in margin by my bosses, but by the glass company as well. They were terrified. They were scared about every single little thing having to do with selling a quantity over the 50 to 100 piece minimums they were used to.
I gave up the good fight. *sigh* Wish I'd tried harder in hindsight.

February 6, 2012 | Registered CommenterLouise

I'm already married, so I'm not entering, however my husband's aunt makes veils "for fun." And had I seen this post, say, this time 2 years ago, I would have emailed her and said, I WANT THAT. Because I really do dig the design. Some bride is going to be quite lucky to get this. :)

(I ended up doing something similar, but more of a bow, not a flower, similar tulle but no additional bling, which a similar style retailed for around $200 or so on Etsy ... to which I was happy for crafty family who wanted to do something nice for me.)

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteririsira

Hi! This is Kinzie (poked over here to read your post from the Twitters). I am always amazed by mark ups on veils. It's astounding. I have poked a little bit through your shop before, but based on this post, I'm going to look even more. I'm not very blingy of a person, but I love the simplicity of the way that veil falls over the hair. I like it!

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKinzie Kangaroo

Oh, and I already follow you on twitter, but I posted the link...

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKinzie Kangaroo

And I "liked" you on facebook! (Also, I'll spread the word to my other IRL engaged friends.) xoxo!

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKinzie Kangaroo

I "liked" you on Facebook and lost some time looking at your boards on Pinterest! Even repinned a few things. Love your style and creativity.

February 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBarb C.

Louise! This was well worth the wait! I'm not entering the giveaway, but this is an incredible post! I made my own veil after seeing the designer veil I wanted in a catalog and then being incredibly disappointed by the quality after trying it on in the store. I would have been happy to pay the $250 for it if it had looked anything like the picture in the magazine. I am not particularly crafty and I don't know how to sew, but I made mine for under $20 and I ended up customizing it from just a birdcage. It was unbelievably gorgeous and I think better than the designer version. I recommend artisan all the way.

February 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDavelloPhotography

Beautiful pieces. My daughter wore my veil. When I married in the 80's, silk flower wreaths were all the rage. But the veil itself was cathedral length, beautiful english tulle with a rolled hem. A dear friend re-purposed it for my daughter and it turned out beautifully. In fact that was the part of the bride, her husband did not see until she walked down the aisle. They did pics beforehand, but she wore the veil to the ceremony only.

February 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMommaOfTheBride

That veil is fabulous! I would love to rock that out. I followed you on Twitter!, and I RT'd too

February 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRenee

And I added you on the Book of Face.

February 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRenee

And I followed you on Pinterest. And I will, (if it's ok), post about your contest on my little ole blog.

February 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRenee

@Renee - Share away! And thanks for reading/posting! Cute blog!

February 8, 2012 | Registered CommenterLouise

As a graphic designer, I totally understand what you mean about mark-up.... what IS value of my time in addition to the product? I work at a non-profit and my manager hired a frou frou design firm to handle a big magazine redesign instead of relying on the in-house team. But of course, we're the go-to when they want to recreate a look/feel of a small postcard or mailer "on the cheap." Insulting really. I admire your efforts to provide quality goods without the crazy markup. Plus I just got engaged last October and will totally need a veil for my Fall 2013 wedding!!!

February 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterflau25

..and I just started following you on Pinterest. :)

February 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterflau25

...and liked you on the Facebook as well.

February 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterflau25

Oooh! So cute! Would love to wear this for my wedding day! I have my fingers crossed!

p.s. Yes, id does look really close to the BHLDN version :)

February 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany J.

Also no following you on twitter! @tantwall

February 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany J.

tandtwall*

and liked on FB!

February 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany J.

tandtwall*

and liked on FB!

February 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany J.

I love your frankness of the whole article. It's quite ridiculous how much the designer companies are charging for even the most simplest of items. I totally agree with you in your thoughts on ripping off the etsy designers. Going to tweet, fb, and pinterest you now!

February 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAliciainVA

Just tweeted and followed under AliciaG23224 :)

February 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAliciainVA

Just clicked Like on your FB page as Alicia Hogue :)

February 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAliciainVA

Just clicked Like on your FB page as Alicia Hogue :)

February 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAliciainVA

Last one, just followed you on Pinterest!

February 9, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAliciainVA

I found your blog through a re-tweet from @lindsaywynne, and I'm so glad I found it! It's so, so cute! I'm getting married in May, and I'm looking for a reception hairpiece, and this is beautiful! I would love love love to be able to wear this on my wedding day!

I follow you on Twitter @FaisonAnne

I tweeted about your giveaway here: https://twitter.com/#!/FaisonAnne/status/168469167232651265

I "liked" you on Facebook: Faison G.


Thank you for the sweet giveaway!

February 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterFaison G.

Oh.My. What the hell... I shouldn't be shocked but sadly, I am just a teeny bit. The world is crumbling and greed is seriously showing it's ugliness. Shame, shame. Thank you for posting on this touchy subject that a lot of folks would like to ignore.

February 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiana

On twitter I have added and re-tweeted your request.

February 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiana

I have also liked you on Facebook.

February 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiana

I am not following you on Pinterest!

Thank you again for bringing this issue to the spotlight. Hope that many people will see it for what it is and take a stand against these companies and any others that are ripping others off. Such a sick, twisted world we live in where people who are one of a kind originals aren't even given proper credit from the corporations.

February 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDiana

I am following you on twitter and pinterest not because I wanna win ( it's cute but not really my style) but because I LOVE your attitude.

February 12, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterHope weaver

Aw, thanks Hope!

February 12, 2012 | Registered CommenterLouise

Wow. I was shocked to read all of that. Looking for wedding accessories, I have noticed that they are often so overpriced for something that I could make myself if I had enough confidence in my creativity. I'd also like to add that I personally thought yours even looked better!
Kudos to you for your research and lower prices! :)

February 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTaylor S.

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