The Manufacturing Process
As many of you may be aware, I started having my designs manufactured overseas at the beginning of last year. This started as a result of a dramatic fall in my handmade range. As Covid 19 came into play in 2020, the uncertainty of what was going to happen in the world, caused a shift in consumer thinking. Mainly, a stop to spending on luxury items. Handmade jewellery is one such luxury that has been hit hard.
In addition to this, any opportunity to teach classes had ceased as different regulations on social distancing and lock downs prevented any workshops being run...for months on end. Joy! For the past decade or so, I have been making and teaching side by side. Covid had other plans, and this called for a change in the way I created.
For most of my making career, I have resisted the mass produced route, focusing on small batch production within my own studio. The reality of this is a lot of work and hours at the bench, which never really get recovered from the sale price. The reality is you are in a competitive market where you are up against other manufactured products that you cannot price match - if you want to eat or actually get paid for the hours you put into the making process. That little thing called an hourly rate reduces dramatically when you adjust your pricing to stay competitive.
The truth is that some people cannot afford a handmade item - especially in a time of world economic uncertainty.
So I explored ways of being able to create my work while still being able to sell goods, making a wage and paying the mortgage! Thankfully I have a few friends who are exceptional artists, who have also started down the route of "commercializing" their work and supplementing the handmade with the manufactured.
I searched for a manufacturer within Australia who could create work with exceptional finishes, at a cost effective price point that would result in a product that could be sold for a competitive and reasonable price point. Unfortunately there is no producer in Australia that met the criteria, so I looked overseas. I found a manufacturer in China, researched their factory information, working conditions and wages.
Something that a lot of factories in China freely and transparently advertise to potential customers. A number of factories work toward accreditation specifically knowing that this is what foreign partners want from them. They want to know that they are not only getting an edge on competitive markets, but that they are abiding by ethical standards of consumers.
Let's face it, many larger organizations have been found to just look at the bottom dollar.
To counteract the fact that my manufacturer is located overseas, I have all other parts of the process manufactured within Australia, and as local as possible. This includes the card stock which is 100% post-consumer recycled card stock, printed locally by a small business in Castlemaine. My thank you cards are produced in Ballarat and all other packaging is 100% recyclable, lowering the environmental and economical costs.
But there are other benefits from endeavoring down the road of production. I have now found an audience and a direction in my practice that feeds into the rest of my art. A direction which is inspiring my handmade jewellery, paintings, sculptures and more. The biggest change is that I now have the ability to buy the materials and invest in myself, so that I can create and make for those who appreciate the handmade, the creative process and love my art.
I will no longer be offering classes nor teaching through any other organizations. I can now focus on the creation of art, which has been an aspect of my practice that has been pushed to the side for too long. I will be having more of my designs manufactured, inspired by the creation of further art work, expanding the business and product range and of course, more exclusive handmade items!
I hope you follow the journey.