It seems everyone is talking about #FairFiberWage. It started with teachers being offered contracts for a large show that were not fair. The contracts pushed all of the risk in paying teachers from a shared one to one shouldered mainly by the teachers. The teachers talked, and many decided that they were not going to teach for sub-par wages. Out of these discussion, a hashtag and larger discussion was born. Maybe you've been following it on Twitter, or Facebook, or Ravelry. We wanted to add to the conversation from the prospective of a vendor.
It is rare that our dollars can make a difference on an immediate and personal level. Luckily for us, the fiber world is one place that this is true. You can spend $2.50 for size 6 seed beads at Michael's and you get beads. At Michael's you support a corporate machine that bargains suppliers down to the most rock bottom prices. You can spend (on average) $10 for size 6 seed beads from me. Cheap? No. Choices? Over 200 colors. And we answer questions about how to use them in your fiber work, and we know which beads work best on what yarns, we have patterns and kits, and we bring them to fiber shows and you can match them to your yarn, and we help you to match them, and we are knitters and crocheters who understand your obsession. When you buy from us you have a direct effect on our wages.
We are a family business. When you buy from us you're supporting Ryan's (age 13) drum lessons, Ross' (age 16) bass guitar lesson, Daxton's (age 4) pirate obsession., and Felix's (age 18) college education. You are helping to family to live and be happy. We don't do this for the money. Seriously, we will never get rich doing this. We will be able to home school and work with customers we love. You are the reason we are doing this. We truly love to share our beads and our knowledge with you. You are buying beads, yes, but you are also buying our years of expertise.
When a show charges us exorbitant fees to vend, we can't afford to do it. For large shows, we spend about $1500 on booth fees, $100 on gas, $300-$500 on hotel rooms/Air B&B, $1000-$3000 on stock, and about $50 a day on food. (Our costs are even higher if we have to fly to a show and ship our beads.) Like all vendors, we cut corners: we bring food to eat in the hotel room, we rarely stay at the venue hotel, we rarely go site-seeing, we drive up to 12 hours a day to get to shows sometimes for 2 or 3 days in a row. This doesn't count the prep we do for shows (ordering, sorting, tagging, etc) and it doesn't count the non-monetized parts of doing a show such as listening to customers who (far more often than you think) tell us about their problems and home life, ask for advice on selling their creations, need us to stand next to them and help them decide which beads go with which yarn. We don't mind these parts of our business. In fact, these things make our days more interesting, but they are also emotionally draining. Sometimes (rarely) the show producers will give us a care package with water and snacks, or pay for us to have help with load-in and load-out, or have coffee/tea available in the mornings, or have pizza or cake during set-up. These little things make us ridiculously happy.
If the show doesn't have teachers and classes to draw students, our take home pay is considerably less and we might (and have) lost money doing a show. There is a need for teachers to be paid fairly so that the show model works. We want fiber shows to do well, not only because we want to earn a living, but also because we are knitters and crocheters, spinners and weavers ourselves. We want to be able to learn from the teachers, buy from the other vendors, and still feel like we are being treated fairly. We are consumers of the show experience as well as being part of creating it.
So, what do we actually earn at shows? After spending about $4,000 we are generally happy to clear $5,500. This means we walk away with $1,500 on average. Disclaimer: These are our figures and don't necessarily reflect what other vendors make.
We do this about 20 times each year. Along with web sales and trunk shows, this is how we put food on the table and a roof over our heads, and we consider ourselves to be very lucky because lots of vendors have "day jobs" in addition to vending.
So, where you spend your fiber dollars matters.
We are grateful when you choose to spend them with us!
If you want to read more about this issue, we suggest reading these blog posts:
What does it cost to hire top talent in fiber arts? I’m glad you asked. -Abby Franquemont
The great teaching kerfuffle -Mary Beth Temple
In Response to Diane Piwko on Fair Fiber Wages -Abby Franquemont
No Apologies -Mary Beth Temple
Risk vs. Reward: The True Costs of Fiber Teaching -Miriam Felton
Fair Fiber Wage, a look from the other side -jacey boggs
Labour Day -Laura Fry
Show Time: Teacher Compensation at Larger Venues -Annie Modesitt
I Used to Hire Teachers -Beth Smith
Daxton was very excited to pick our lucky winner out of the hat and he was excited that he would be on the computer! Congratulations to Daxton for starring in his own video, and to our wonderful winner Laura Edelstein! See you Vogue Knitting Live!
We've been busy getting ready for NYS Sheep & Wool Festival in Rhinebeck. Of course we're getting our layers of clothing together and choosing (as if one could choose!) what yarns we can't leave without. We're happily making plans to meet up with friends and enjoy each other's company. We have been organizing our beads, and yarns, and kits so that we have enough for all of you, but we're also busy putting together some special Rhinebeck treats for all our wonderful friends and customers!
The first treat we have are some amazing new bead colors! A friend of ours closed his bead business in NYC and we scored lots of new and vintage beads that are perfect for knitting, crochet, and spinning! We have been putting them in tubes and labeling like crazy. Now you probably want a preview. We can arrange for that!
We've also commissioned a very limited number of hand made glass sheep, alpacas, and rabbits from the extremely talented Maureen Henriques at Pumpkin Hill Beads. We are busy making these cute little guys into amazing earrings. Want to see the cutest glass animals in the world? Of course you do!
We are also making labels for our limited edition beaded yarn. According to one of our spinners this yarn is made of an "awesome fiber blend [that] felt like butter." Can't get much softer than that! And it looks amazing too! See for yourself!
We have one more treat in store for you! How about $3.00 off your admission to Rhinebeck? Sounds good? Just save and print this coupon and present at the gate when you arrive!
We can't wait to see everyone this Saturday and Sunday! Come by our booth in Building B Space 4, say "Hi!", and check out all of the wonderful things we have waiting for you at the NYS Sheep & Wool Festival this year!
We did indeed and it's high time we gave you a nice preview.
So far we have this white 20/80 cormo/alpaca blend, but coming soon we will have beaded hand dyed 20/80 cormo/alpaca.
There may or may not be some of the yummy yarn available at our September shows, and there might a special limted edition kit in the works with this yarn, but we're not tell anyone ;)
Don't forget to sign up for our mailing list to find out as soon as the yarn is available and to receive valuable discount coupons for all are fabulous beads, yarns, and kits.
The Tsarina of Tsocks (aka Lisa Grossman) died Friday afternoon. She was an amazing sock designer, among many other things, and someone I am proud to call my friend. If you have never come across Lisa's tsocks, here are two brilliant examples:
Lisa dealt with cancer the same way she dealt with everything else. She laughed, pointed out it's absurdity, and went about trying to finish the things that were important to her. Telling us the news she said, "I've learned there's no way to sugar-coat this. I have cancer and it doesn't look good. Cancer gallops in my family, but I managed to get one no one else had!" Then she laughed, and we laughed with her. Almost without breathing she continued, "But that doesn't mean I'm not going to try to get to Maryland (The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival)."
She didn't make it to Maryland, or Massachusetts, or New Hampshire, but she did make it out of the hospital and back into her beloved house near the ocean. She spent the end of her life visiting with friends and being with the love of her life. Overall, not the worst ending.
We'll miss you Lisa, but we wouldn't trade being your friends for all the happy endings in the world.
Last fall we purchased a number of yummy alpaca fleece and a few weeks ago we took those fleece and some sheep fleece on a road trip. Our first stop was the home of wonderful friends Patty and Arthur. They graciously shared their home with with us and Patty even helped with our project. With lovely warm weather and lots of sunshine it was easy to skirt all those fleece. OK. Perhaps easy is not the best word. Some better words would be dirty, poopy, straw and grass-filled, and sometimes smelly. Despite all those words, the bright sun and great company made it a lot easier to get through two full days of skirting.
Once we had beautiful fleece done, we brought it to our friends at The Mill at the Meadowlands. Ruth Lamb and Paulette Ringley run an environmentally friendly mill that has antique equipment all restored to perfect working order. They were so helpful as we all sorted, weighed, and tagged the fleece.
So, what's to become of all this delicious fleece? The mill will processes it into roving and then our amazing hand spinner, Angela, will magically spin it all into beaded yarn! Yes, you heard correctly. Bead Biz will have our own beaded yarn available in time for the New York State Sheep & Wool Festival (Rhinebeck).
We got a new toy this week! Say hello to our label maker.
We have decided to join the 21st century and barcode all the beads. This is not as easy as it sounds. We spent one day trying ot use an online barcode maker. That didn’t work. Next we spent a day trying out this barcode maker. It turns out that this one only wants to talk with the computer that has Windows 8, not the one that has Windows 7.
Once you get passed its anti-7 prejudice however, it makes beautiful labels.
Now all we need to do is make labels for all the beads, yarn, Kumihimo and kits, and update beadbiz.org with all the new skew numbers. *grin*
While we do that, anyone want to suggest a name for the lovely new machine? It definitely needs a name. If we use your suggestion, we’ll give a coupon good for a free hank of beads, so start thinking!
In the meantime, we’ll be right here making labels.
We're just a couple of bead chicks who found fiber and came over to the dark side. It's OK though, we brought cookies :)
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