www.silverhillcreative.com will be coming soon! Until then, please enjoy my blog or visit my Etsy shop.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Buying Priorities

A couple comments recently have made me think about the idea of priorities when it comes to buying things.

I was talking with my mom today, and she mentioned a certain pair of boots that she wanted — but she was going to have to pass because they were $270. "They're a brand called Pikolinos. I don't know if you've ever heard of them," Mom said. "Um, I have actually. I have a pair," I admitted. "I bought them 10? 12? years ago. And I wear them all the time."

I paid less than $270 for mine because I bought them so long ago. But I did spend $200+ per pair for two pairs of La Canadienne boots maybe 5 years ago. One pair has since been re-soled. But I still get great use out of both pairs.

Contrast that with the time I was looking at a $55 pair of shoes. "How long will this brand last?" I asked the store owner. "Oh, you should get a full season out of those!" she said — as though getting a single year out of a pair of shoes is longevity. I immediately took a pass.

If you can't afford expensive shoes — and I recognize that even $55 is expensive for many people — I'm not saying you should buy them anyway. (Don't worry, Mom! I'm not questioning your priorities.)  But a lot of times, you get what you pay for.

The other comment (from some weeks ago) was this: "Kristin, you make beautiful hats ... but nobody I know can afford them."

Yes, my hats are expensive in the sense that they can be over $100. Yes, my hats are expensive in the sense that they are priced higher than a mass-produced hat bought at Macy's. And, yes, there are people who truly cannot afford them. But I guarantee that the same person who said she doesn't know anybody who can afford them does know people who spend $100+ on jeans or shoes. So why not spend that money on hats?

It's all about priorities. I know that hats are considered more of a fun, optional accessory. Personally, I've never spent more than $100 on a pair of jeans. I have spent more than $100 on a hat, though.

This post isn't about trying to say people should buy my hats. I want my customers to want my hats; I want my customers to love my hats. I don't want my customers to resent me or think "Ugh, why did I spend money on this?"

So buy, or don't buy, things as you see fit. It's your life. It's your money. It's not for me to judge how you spend it. You get to set the priorities.

For my part, I prioritize spending more on something I know will last for a long time and that I will continue to enjoy.

And a hat made using traditional millinery techniques — as opposed to a mass-produced hat — is meant to be something that will last for years to come. (All the delightful reasons why will be coming in a future blog post.)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Etsy, Hats and ... Toy Campfires?

Previously, I shared Emily Moe's blog post The Milliners vs. Etsy. Her prior post Milliners, Etsy and the Category Problem is also worth reading.

So I wanted to offer my thoughts ...

I have kind of a love-hate relationship with Etsy, and I'm sure that's true of anyone who sells there.
What I love about Etsy is that it's easy to use. They charge a listing fee and a percentage of each sale. As a person who isn't selling in anything close to a high volume, it is far cheaper for me to have Etsy be my store than to have a dedicated web site and shopping cart. And even when Etsy's categories fail milliners, there are times when I do get miraculously found.

The trouble is that getting found is hard. Part of that is the category problem; part of it is the sheer volume of items on Etsy, most of which are lousy.

Oh, categories. Emily pointed out how "Accessories > Hat" turns up a huge amount of knit or crocheted beanies. Here's the thing, though: yarn artists have their own dedicated categories! And those categories not only break down to hat, but also the sub-categories of hats (such as "baby" or "beanie"). Milliners have nowhere else to go but "Accessories > Hat." Knitters can file their items under "Knitting > Hat" or "Knitting > Accessories > Hat." Same goes for crochet.

by MoeSewCoMillinery
by ChapeauEgoiste
by SilverhillCreative
The bigger problem is that there's no policing of categories even where those distinctions do exist. Out of curiosity, I clicked to see what shows up when I click through to "Accessories > Hat > Cloche." Unsurprisingly, several crocheted beanies are called cloches. What did surprise me is seeing on the first page of results a PDF pattern for a crocheted cowl. A scarf. Not a hat. Not even close to being a cloche! (And a pattern, to boot, not even a finished item.)

But clicking "report this item to Etsy" is no help. The only options you are allowed are if an item is not handmade, not vintage or not a supply (the three main categories of Etsy) or if it is prohibited or mature content. There's no recourse for category abuse. As an aside, I've seen many sellers write about how Etsy does not do much to police manufactured goods posing as handmade (or vintage). After all, Etsy is still making money off of them.

The problem is that there is so much junk on Etsy. There are some amazingly beautiful finds on Etsy. I have bought some fabulous vintage trims there. And I have admired the work of other milliners and handmade artists who are actually artists. But Etsy adding new categories or fixing SEO* isn't really going to help.

Take away all the crocheted hats, knit hats, surgical scrub caps and vintage hats, and you can still end up with "handmade" hats where the seller bought a manufactured hat base and glued feathers or flowers or ribbon onto it. Add categories for fedoras or any other millinery terms, and you will still have mass-produced hats. You will still have beanies or scarves intentionally mislabeled in order to hijack the results.

Etsy is a great place to host a shop. It's a great way to have an online store without investing in a dedicated web site and shopping cart, so it's perfect for small sellers. It is not, however a place to get discovered. I simply can't expect to ever be found there.

The ideal would be an alternative to Etsy that is juried. No mass-produced goods. No sellers lying about what their item is to gain views. No beanies featuring cartoon characters. (I'm sure that 99% of Etsy sellers do not have a license for their Ninja Turtles or Minion "handmade" items.) That's not to say that knit/crochet should be banned. I would be happy to have my hats appear along side quality knit/crochet.

by esozaJewelry
by lilithist
The good knit/crochet hat makers are getting lost, too, among hats that look like something you stuffed under your bed and forgot about after your grandma gave it to you for Christmas.

by MaddyRoseCottage
*And the search, by the way, is definitely broken. I searched for "felt" in the accessories/hat category ... and some of the results were for felt toys. (Of the two I noted, one was a slug and one was a campfire. Weird. But oddly cute.) I assumed that maybe the sellers used the word "hat" in title or tags to make their items stand out in a category where they did not belong. Nope. Etsy just decided, through whatever bizarre algorithm they use, to return a toy campfire to someone searching for hats.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Blog Link

I'm going to tackle my own thoughts on the subject in a separate post. In the meantime, I wanted to share a fellow hat-maker's blog post:

It's interesting, and it features pretty pictures of several milliners' hats.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Confessions of a procrastinating blogger...

I hate it when I visit a blog only to find out it hasn't been updated in months (or years!). Kind of like ... oh.

Yes, it has been several months since I've blogged. And it hasn't been for lack of things to say. I enjoy writing, and I have some posts in the back of my head waiting to get out onto the computer screen. I just ... haven't written. And then, of course, I get into a vicious circle where I feel like I can't write a new blog post at 3 a.m. or without addressing my absence first. So this, I guess, is that thoroughly unexciting post.

I've been working away on hats (and theatre), not blogging.

More posts will be coming. Until then, you can check out Silverhill Creative Millinery hats on Pinterest or the Silverhill Creative Millinery etsy shop.