It’s been a while since I posted last but it’s been a very busy time and things have moved forward with Muck N Brass rather quickly I’m happy to say.
I want to talk about how I approach the tricky subject of pricing for Muck n Brass products. To me right pricing is the most important part of my business.
First there’s the the straightforward bit, the costs, obviously there’s the cost of the base piece to be upcycled and the materials, transportation or delivery and until I move into my new workshop and store I’m working from home so don’t have any overheads. Once I’ve totted up those I use a standard multiplier to come up with my guide retail price, basically using a cost plus method of pricing of course remembering that other costs like ebay fees and paypal fees have to be taken into consideration.
I do this to give me a rough idea of where to start with the price and then refine it using a number of other factors, which can include thinking about the demand for and scarcity of a piece, the buyers; who they are and their ability/willingness to pay, and the competition.
My aim is to sell each piece within a month, I’ll come to the thinking behind this later but in order to achieve this the most important thing is the right price.
To give an example a 6’6” long Nathan sideboard might cost the same as a 4 drawer Shrieber chest and so using my cost plus calculation the resulting price of each might be £200 but knowing that fewer customers have room for such a large sideboard and that there is always a great demand for chests of drawers I would price the Nathan sideboard at £195 and the Shrieber at £225.
Now back to the reasons behind my aim of trying selling each piece within a month. Like every other businesses cash flow and storage space are supremely important but in my business with every piece being a one off , my sales are driven by online traffic and social media, newness and originality and it’s a virtuous circle, newness drives traffic and sales and sales allow me to get new projects to upcycle and so creates the newness which drive traffic and sales. For example one new piece posted on Instagram can translate to over 200 views on my Etsy store which in turn would generally create 2 sales. Which gives me the opportunity to start some new projects.
Returning to cashflow and those fees it’s time for a rant Etsy charges 3% and I get my money within 2 days, ebay and paypal fees together come to roughly 10% and I get my money instantly but I came across a site which claims to support small upcycling business but charges x% and it takes 21? days to release the seller’s funds. Nuff said.
Before sharing my upcycling highs and lows I thought I would share with you my “Rules of Recycle” These have all been learnt through personal hands on experience and making mistakes. I’m not sure if I would have been so open to the information if were offered from some wise old man as I usually like to learn the hard way and this I did.
Rule 1. Check for labels, makers marks or branding. Its not until you sell a rare piece of Ercol, G Plan or something similar not knowing what it was that you get into the habit of checking and googling first. I’m not saying other pieces of later years aren’t worth upcycling but its worth knowing what you are dealing with. Look for its quality, wood? MFD? Veneer? If its a chest of drawers does it have wooden runners? dovetail joints? The quality of construction is key. We’ve all heard the term “Polishing a turd”.
Rule 2. Space? Do you have the space to house the renovation before, during and until you sell it? I started with small pieces that could easily be a part of the furnishings at home until they sold. I did start to increase their size without really being aware of it until one day it was like a game of Tetris trying to get into bed. The kids would come home and start to make comments of how the house was changing everyday. I was selling a piece and then quickly replacing it with something else.
Rule 3. Try before you buy. Well that’s if you’re not winning great items on Ebay. Just recently I took on 6 chest of drawers from a house clearance. Great I thought. Until I got them back and tried to open the drawers. They were swollen and damp and needed a few good blows with a hammer and some patience while they dried out. They were all worth it in the end and I still would have bought them if I had known about it before but it might have put a few people off so be aware.
Rule 4. Don’t vandalise! Be sympathetic to every piece. Just because its old doesn’t mean we can go and paint and paper it and leave no room for upcyling years down the line . Using harsh glues and adhesives for papering a piece could damage the wood and be very difficult later on if someone should wish to re purpose.
Rule 5. Last but not least have fun. I love every part of it now. Many a time ive stuck to things I know how to do well, but be brave and try something new. Like transferring images to wood, Papering and getting to grips with natural woods. All exciting stuff 😉
So after a very hectic few months upcycling some fabulous pieces I have given in to the pressure and started a blog. I’m hoping by this you will get to see and love what I do and possibly inspire some of you to take up your own upcycling furniture design. I will do my best to keep you informed of all materials, hints, tips and even tell you about the mishaps and pit falls on the way.
I’ve always had a passion for upcycling and redesigning furniture. Just recently it started to grow into something much bigger. After creating a few unique pieces for my home I started to get a few requests and commission work. Once I got over the “precious stage”. What I mean by that is the stage where you cant let it go and find fault in it so much that you don’t know when to stop working on it to perfect it, you don’t believe its good enough for anyone, I was amazed at how much pleasure I got from recycling, renovating and then rehoming all the projects.
I have rules about what I do. No vandalising for a start. I see this a lot with upcycling. Just because a piece of furniture is vintage, retro or just plain old doesn’t mean it will look better painted or papered. With a bit of loving a perfectly good set of 1960’s original Ercol chairs can be brought back to life with wood dyes and oils and painting I feel should be the last option. Upcycling any piece of furniture should be thought about carefully. Think about who might want to upcycle or renovate it in the future. Using harsh adhesives with paper may cause problems or even damage to the piece in a few ears to come. I try and work with the piece and am sensitive to the cause.