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Why are your bears so expensive?

I know the price tag of my bears can seem a little wild to some. After all, you can go to Target right now and buy a big teddy bear for like $20. So why are mine so expensive?

Cost to make each bear

First, we have to look at how much it costs to make one bear, and why.

Let's go with a mini bear, one of the most popular sizes. They're 6" tall, and made completely from scratch.  There are a bunch of costs associated with making a bear. You have the cost of materials (fabric, thread, stuffing, embroidery thread, tags), the cost of packaging (care cards, cotton bags, stamps), the cost of shipping materials (mailers, shipping labels), and then the cost for manufacturing (paid to both my seamstresses and my embroiderers). Sometimes I sew bears myself, also. I pay a friend to help me keep inventory, number bears, sew them closed, and do extras (sewing on duck beaks or lamb "wool"). She also hand stamps bags, reminds me of stuff, and gives me valuable input. My husband does a lot of work, too - but I don't pay him. ;)

For all the costs of labor and materials put together, on a mini bear, it costs about $9 to make one bear. This would be MUCH cheaper if I hired a factory in another country - however, that is not at all what I believe in and the hand made, made in the USA aspect of my bears is very important to me. I also pay a fair wage to my team members, so that this is a real and legitimate job for them.

Overhead Costs

After the cost of each bear, we have to include overhead costs, or what I have to pay to keep the business running. This includes all kinds of expenses, from my website, to my business license, to my processing fees at PayPal. This is a big number... in fact, when I first calculated it, it scared me! Let's put it this way - to keep Commonfolke running, it costs about as much as my rent for my home each month. This means that I need to be making a profit off of what I sell. If I were to only charge for materials and labor (most people assume that's all that goes into the price of a product!), then I wouldn't be able to afford all the other stuff and would quickly go out of business.

The usual formula

When you go to price items, this is what you would usually follow (good advice for businesses just starting):

Materials + Labor/Manufacturing = Cost
Cost + Profit (what you'd like to make per piece) OR Cost x 2 = Wholesale price (if you sell your items to stores)
Wholesale x 2 = Retail price (the price your customers pay to buy directly from you)

How bigger businesses charge less

When you buy from larger businesses, or businesses that utilize a factory to make their items, they are able to lower their costs per item by ordering in bulk from their factory. The factory will usually give a discount if they get a bigger order, therefore the cost per item is decreased. Their materials are cheaper per item because they order massive quantities of materials and get a discount. Because I am running a small business and don't wish to employ a factory to make my bears, there is no discount for me if I ask my team to make me 5 bears or 500. It's the same price. I'm also paying people who live and work for me in the US, not people getting fractions of a dollar for the same work in another country.

Why you should shop small business

Did you know that it takes about 45 minutes to make one bear, from start to finish? My bears are made carefully, and made well. There is no way to rush if you want perfection. I make a point that anyone that purchases a bear feels like it was worth their time to wait and they money they spent. As of today, I have been in business for almost three years, and I have only had someone complain about their bear once they received it, or processed a return for a dissatisfied customer fewer times than a handful.

When you buy my bears, you're supporting the families of the men and women that I've employed. You're directly supporting my family. You're paying a fair price for honest work. And I think mostly, you're supporting a dream that anyone can build a business and succeed. It's an incredible feeling being able to do something you're passionate about, and be able to take care of your loved ones by doing it.

Minimalism is a big part of my brand, and intentionally so. I value simplicity and quality. In my opinion, it is much better to have a small amount of well-made, loved things than a whole lot of inexpensive, questionably made, disposable ones. Buying handmade is a choice that requires a certain mindset. You have to be able to really appreciate what you have, and when you do, you fully understand the fulfillment and gratification that comes from hand made items.

I hope this helped a little bit to explain why hand made work in general costs a bit more. I think it's always worth it - hand made items are not mass produced, they have tons of quality and charm, and they're original and unique. Paying a little bit more for all of those components is a worthwhile investment to get something that someone (or a small group of people) poured their hearts into to make. :)

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