We love making crackers here at Elves' Best but there is a lot to do in deciding which kinds of crackers to make each Christmas, what to fill them with and where to source the contents - all before we ever fill that first cracker of the season.
This year we are focusing on some charming handmade felt decorations from the USA, Canada and Latvia. And also featuring at least one fused glass artist's work showcasing cheery Santas, snowmen, penguins, kitties and dogs. And other Artisans such our creative friend, Clare, who makes handmade Beer Soap, Shampoo and Shaving Cream. The guys are going to LOVE these!
We try to find Artisans with lots of soul. Experience and technical ability are important but S-O-U-L is essential! We just need to look at finished products to know who lives their art and gives it their all. And once those Artisans and creative works are found, we then need to do the hard work of pricing - which includes of course the artist's costs, taxes, import duties, shipping and the costs of carrying any left over inventory through to the next season. So the calculators start clicking with days needed to work out the right products and price points for our Cracker Biz.
Once I am sure that all items are within our price parameters, then the image work begins. We often start with the Artisan's own photos, cropping and optimizing them for our website or take our own photos. When we upload these to individual product pages, we also need to determine sizing dimensions, suitable product descriptions, and any special pricing, shipping or variances such as colour or design which the customer will want to know. It takes time. Weeks,
And still we haven't gotten yet to making that first cracker.
There is one more important note I would like to add about featuring Artisan's work and that is the pricing. Some people express shock (although I am happy to report they are in the minority) at the pricing of Artisan Gift Crackers. My reply for many, many years has been the same. I suggest to people that they pretend they are the ones who are making the cracker and to ask themselves what raw materials they would they need to purchase to make it. And how much would that cost? How much time would they need to source those products. Then, stepping into the shoes of the artisan, how much per hour do they think they should pay themselves? How long would it take to make one hand-sewn felt decoration for example? And stepping into the Elves' shoes, how much per hour would they pay themselves to do all of their work -- designing creative cracker wraps, prepping the art work for the printers, finding games and puzzles and jokes to fill each cracker in a unique fashion, and then all the admin work, the product sourcing, the endless website work, the printing, answering customer inquiries, the social media and newsletter communications and advertising, etc. That all needs to be factored into making one cracker. Most people begin to see that the $20 cracker - the one filled with fun, variety, quality and heart - they weren't sure about is starting to look like quite a bargain!
Part 3 of what needs to happen before the first cracker is made will be shared soon! Thanks for visiting with me at the Cracker Workshop today!