What’s fair?

November 20, 2009 § Leave a comment

It’s always tricky for me to state a price on the things I make as well as the things I repair. The times I’ve charged what I calculated (including time, thread, needles, sewing machine wear and tear, and electricity) I’ve thought the price was too high. But I’ve always been paid.

What I don’t account for is that it’s a lot less of a hassle for someone to bring me their clothing repairs than to try to tackle it themselves, especially if they don’t sew. So, you would also need to include in your hourly wage your expertise.

I’ve talked about this for a couple of months and now what I do is that I charge a set fee for certain things and others, depending on how complicated they are, get a slightly higher price.

Compared to other seamstresses I think I charge lower but I also haven’t been in this business for long so I take every hem as more learning.

Anywho. I’m happy with the way things work for me right now and I just want the work. So I’m good.

What I really wanted to bring up here is the fact that there are many more people who don’t even have the option to get paid a fair wage.

This morning, while talking to my mom on her way to work, she pointed me in the direction of the San Jose Mercury News where she read about the Tech awards honoring social entrepreneurs.

Here’s an excerpt:

Katherine M. Swanson Equality Award
World of Good Development Organization (Emeryville): The nonprofit, represented by Audrey Seagraves, far left, and Ella Silverman, teaches basic business principles to poor women who do at-home work, such as stitching money pouches, to ensure they earn an above-poverty-line salary. It created the Fair Trade Calculator software, which provides localized pricing evaluation of handmade goods to improve the wages of “informal” workers.

The fair trade calculator is really cool. You should check it out when you get a moment. You can do a quick search or sign up and include more information in your calculation.

I suggest the next time you buy a gift for someone you go out of your way to buy fair trade. Buying handmade doesn’t always mean fair trade but it usually does if you are buying it from the same person who made it. You can always ask!


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