Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A day in the life...

Have you ever heard that song "Taking care of business" from the 70's ...the words say :

You get up every morning
From your alarm clock's warning
Take the 8:15 into the city
There's a whistle up above
And people pushin', people shovin'
And the girls who try to look pretty
And if your train's on time
You can get to work by nine
And start your slaving job to get your pay
If you ever get annoyed
Look at me I'm self-employed
I love to work at nothing all day
And I'll be...
Taking care of business every day
Taking care of business every way
I've been taking care of business, it's all mine
Taking care of business and working overtime......

Are you tapping your toes yet ? LOL

Well, we are here to tell you, the life of an independant self employed artist is anything but "working at nothing all day" !  and here is how an average day goes for us....
No time clocks to starts when we get up...

Stacy is up early every day, by 4-5 a.m....I usually sleep until about when I get up he is already covered in wood chips and dust, but the coffee is made :D 

Upon  waking  up, the first few things through my mind are: "how did my finish turn out on the forks from yesterday" , Coffee...," i wonder if we have any messages and sales to answer and pack"....coffeee...."what forks will be  listed, depends on what sold over night..." you get the picture of my waking's what happens the rest of the day.....

*check messages on shops and emails. send thank you notes for any overnight sales. Answer questions and request. this can take anywhere from 1-3 hours
*get dressed and make breakfast
*photograph action shots of what will be listed today...photograph the items for the shop, which is 5-10 pictures per item to get good shots. This takes approximately 30-40 minutes.
*Each item has 5 photos that have to be edited and listings that have to be customized to the specific items..this takes 20-40 minutes per listing.
*promote new items that are just listed on social networks throughout the day including treasuries for the treasury team we are on, and i try to make a new  treasury each day...3-4 hours.
*package any items that need to go out today..each box takes about 10-15 mintes to pack, wrap, address with personal notes in each one.
*now its lunch time, try to add a load of laundry in there and play with the dogs for little bit...1 hour
*keep packing until done. If we have 3 boxes a day to pack, sometimes up to 6 this can take up to 2 hours of the day
*in between all of this, answer messages promptly, take custom orders and work out details of them in multiple communications( we love this part , it is so fun to make your dream hair art come to life and get to know you and your hair better!) 3-4 hrs a day...i am up to possibly 10 hours of work at this point
That was My part of the schedule, Stacy is on a completely different track!

Stacys Day...

*cut out forks that are on the schedule for the day, some for shop some for custom orders.
*Take packages to post office once they are all bagged and ready to go
*At least 8-10 steps are covered on each fork that is being made during the day, before it gets to come in for its finish work.
*now its time for dinner and hopefully get the load of laundry to its destination, which doesn't always happen :D

By the time we get to this point,  it's after 6pm , and we are both at our benches working on special designs, decorating forks, doing some custom work and doing a few projects that we have been wanting to make for the fun of it.

"Our average day is 2.5-3.3 sales.....Our average hairfork is $50

Now, that might SOUND like a lot! Holy crap that's like $150/day! Well.. you're heard the phrase, "Well-off and opulent artist," right? No?
How about "starving artist." There's a reason for that.

""Of all the things that go into our hair forks, we actually make very little profit.
Just for fun, let's work backwards from a "reasonable" $30 hair fork as opposed to a "ridiculous" priced at $80. Let's say the wood isn't very high quality or exotic, so it's $7 for a piece that is at least sound.

Etsy charges 20 cents to list an item and then 3.5% of the sale fee. So that'll be $1.25. PayPal will nab another $1.05 (just on the fork, but it'll hit shipping too for more). So we're down to $20.70.

A very, very low overhead fee (which would cover supplies used like sand paper, wear and tear on drill bits and sawblades, as those have to be purchased with the money from sales, electricity, safety equipment like goggles, hearing protection, etc. and whatever else) is 10%, so $3. Now we're at $17.70

Now, the fork itself took 2.5 hours to make because we'll say this is also a very, very basic shape, but the finish is still really nice. Taking pictures, editing the pictures, uploading the pictures, writing the description, filling out the listing and actually listing it, then packing it up, printing postage and taking it to the post office.... I will be VERY generous and say half an hour. This does scale a bit when there's more forks being made/listed/packed at once, but you can only reduce it so far. So 3 hours total for this very basic fork. Right now to divide this out, the fork maker would be making $5.90/hour. The Federal Minimum Wage is $7.25.

Minimum wage is often for unskilled/unspecialized labor that requires very little training, and woodworking is not unskilled labor by any part of the imagination. So, honestly, I think expecting an artist who lives off their craft to value their time less than that of minimum wage ridiculous.""

We Would like to send a special thank you to our friend Nightblooming for the graphic and the numbers to compare...As another hair art maker we are in similar situations often and thank you, Nightblooming, for your championing of the self employed artist!

We hope this helps you understand and know that we are doing what we love, and loving what we do while bringing you an heirloom quality hairfork , a wooden hair sculpture!
Much blessings and love to all!


  1. Oh, this turned out so neat! I love hearing about other artist's typical days :)

  2. Thanks for sharing! It's very cool to get a glimpse into the world of hair tool creation.

  3. This has been such an interesting and enlightening read! The time, cost and effort to create one piece of art is phenomenal. I have the utmost respect for artists such as yourselves and admire your creations immensely. They are truly beautiful and unique. I am so honoured to be able to say that I have a small but growing collection of Grahtoe Studio Hair Art that will most definately be passed on in my family.

  4. Thanks for your brilliant post. It is spot-on and very revealing! You are completely right, we need more love and appreciation for the time spend on making original and creative works of art.

    Persephone (DemHadesSeinRapunzel)

  5. Any person who ever tried to work with wood (and maybe cut themselves, just as I always do) will know, how challenging woodworking is. I admire your work as an artist, Stacy, and Kimis loving care with the customers. Thank you for this insight in your every day's work.