Pricing Time Intensive Work: Adwoa Design Talks About Hard Business Lessons

Being THE boss in your business is about learning the right lessons. I am so impressed by today's guest, #ahasmember Adwoa Grier, who didn't always start out doing the "right" things, but learned lessons by observing and taking advice-- even if it's advice from a child (who knows her stuff!). What also impresses me about Adwoa? Her Instagram scenes are always a creative inspiration and delight when they come up in my feed! Read on to see the lessons she learned, particularly on pricing.

Q: Please, tell us about yourself. What do you do and how long have you done it for?
A: My name is Adwoa ("Ah-dwaa") Grier. I'm a Mother, Wife, Sister, Daughter, Friend to many, and my day job is currently as an Associate Mental Health Specialist for The State of California. My name is quite the conversation piece! It's Ghanaian, but I was born in Oakland CA and grew up in Hayward. I enjoyed growing up in the Bay Area.

I went into the Air Force at 18, became a Medic and left after 8 1/2 years when my son was born. I worked as an LVN while completing my AA in Nursing and became an RN in 2006. I worked as a Forensic Psychiatric Nurse for 7 years. I was showed the basics of crochet and knitting by two wonderful co-workers who had been doing it for years. During lunch breaks they would teach me, but when I got home I was all thumbs! I learned and subscribed to many YouTube Channels and learned the fundamentals. I guess you could say I'm self-taught over all. I was once told "How knit backwards!" Apparently it still get's the job done but my technique still raises eyebrows.  

 #ahasmember Adwoa Grier of Adwoa Designs

#ahasmember Adwoa Grier of Adwoa Designs

During a patient assault upon one of our Social Workers, I tried to help stop the incident and tore my rotator cuff. While off for two years, it gave me the time to prioritize and reflect on what brought me joy. Making dolls always made me feel better. While recovering from surgery I realized that I wanted to take my neglected Etsy Shop to the next level. Nursing is my occupation, but making Amigurumi is my passion. I look forward to building my own website and taking my passion to the next level.

I opened my shop in 2010 after a co-worker insisted on me looking into it.  He was also my biggest inspiration. I made him fingerless gloves and a scarf. He wore them and others noticed and made requests as well. I have thanked him but look back at my creations and thought, dear Lord, what a nice man! My stitches left much to be desired. I was a beginner then and I'm so thankful for people like him. I could have stopped if discouraged, but no. He continued to make requests and I got better and better and more requests! (Nolen, if you are reading this, thank you again!) I was inviting him to my next craft show a few weeks ago, and he smiled and said; "Wow... I remember when you first started!" PRICELESS...

When the Star Wars Prequels came out a few years later, my eldest son asked me to make him a Yoda. I did my best, but it was horrid. I still have him in my Stitch Lab. We call him "Zombie Yoda" with good reasoning. That was the turning point that got me motivated and inspired to create Amigurumi.

So, six years later, I have minimal sales documented on Etsy which represents my lack of knowledge about marketing, and just not taking it seriously. I was a typical "jobbiest". Hope Marketing was my method, with no strategy in mind of finding my target market or even knowing exactly what a target market was.

In a nutshell, I've been crocheting since 2009 and on Etsy since 2010.  I recently re-branded my shop, and I'll release my first product line this June.

Q: When did you realize you needed to rethink your pricing strategy? What was the catalyst that pushed you to make the change?
A: Pricing seems to be a bit of a pill for many creatives. It took many years for me to realized that my target market would have no problem buying one of my dolls. Prior to that knowledge, I spent several years at craft fairs feeling bad when a potential customer tried to shame me for my asking price.

They would ask questions like; "How long did it take you to make this?" or "How much does it cost you to make this?" I would waste time answering their rude questions. Some were so intimidating I would lower the price.

At a local craft fair that I was participating in, the youngest entrepreneur was 9. She had her table set up with the bath salts she made herself. She made her way over to my table and really liked my work. Before she returned to her own table, she looked me in the eye and said, "You really need to raise your prices!" I was shocked! This sweet child told me what I knew was true for so long. She had no idea what a gift her words were. 

 The party is going on over at  Adwoa's Instagram . She makes the best scenes for her creations.

The party is going on over at Adwoa's Instagram. She makes the best scenes for her creations.

Q: What held you back from charging what you felt your work was really worth? 
A: As creatives, we are given so many theories about pricing. So many calculations. I used to get frustrated with Veteran Crafters who boasted that "You will NEVER make your money back due to the time it takes to make crocheted or knit items". I fell for it. Even after I got schooled by the 9 year old entrepreneur! 

Q: How were you able to change your mindset?
A: I contacted the author of one of my favorite Amigurumi books. I used her pattern and she encouraged me to know the value of my labor of love Amigurumi. She even said; "I can't afford one of my dolls. Just because I can't, doesn't mean everyone else can't either... value your work!" That was music to my ears!

Q: What effect did raising your prices have on you and your business?
A: I was so nervous after I raised my prices. The negative feedback came from customers who insisted I was being greedy, or "I'll just make it myself." One man told me that he would look for another shop "who had reasonable prices...". That stung, but I wrote him back and added; "Good luck to you. I hope you can find the same quality product at a lower price. If you do not, you know how to contact me." I hit send before I realized it.

In hindsight, that was the perfect response. He contacted me later and asked me to lower the price again, but then settled for free shipping with my asking price. I made the dolls, packed them safely, and then received nothing but complaints from him. He didn't like them when he received them and said they are smaller than he imagined. He read the description he stated, but they were not what he wanted after all.

Lesson learned. I will not lower my prices since that apparently attracts discount fiends who are not in my target market. I've learned to appeal to an upper end market. They seem to be much more decisive and pleasant to work with.

Q: How do you respond to potential customers who question your prices now? How do you approach that situation?
A: I have a wonderful business coach who has taught me to invite them to my VIP List (basically it's my email list). I offer discounts and sneak peaks for my members. All they need to do is give me their email that they want to use for the code.

When they insist but don't want to sign up, I have learned to politely respond in this way: "I'd love to work with you, but I feel that we are not the right fit. There are many designers on Etsy. I will not be able to meet your expectations but I appreciate your interest." ( I have this saved as an Etsy Convo "Snippet") I don't deal with the "I can get a plushie at WalMart for $5." If I'm in person, I just smile, nod, and walk away and help another. I no longer respond to rude messages. It ruins my energy.

Q: What advice do you have for other creatives who feel “bad” or uncomfortable charging what their work is worth?
A: We all deserve to be paid appropriately. "Because we deserve it!" Will NEVER be a priority to our customers. Make it about them. Give them a designer product that's worthy of its price. Create your in demand product with spectacular branding and packaging and stand in that authority and list your price.

I used to use UPS and USPS Shipping supplies and realized the message that was sending. Knock their socks off with the unboxing experience. That can keep them coming back along with great customer service. When I was finally able to look at it from that perspective, I could breathe easier and the sting went away from pricing my work.

Q: Where can we find you online?

My Etsy Shop  
My Facebook Fan Page