This blog was written in June 2012
Do we value – or even understand, the value of handmade?
At Danaqa we have a range of different features to our products that we think makes them interesting and valuable. One of those features is that the all of our products are handmade. This is obvious as you look in detail at the hammer marks on our copper vases, or see the knotting on the handloomed silk scarves. We love looking at that detailing and love showing our customers the little quirks of each products.
However, we have learnt that the fact that something is handmade and takes a lot of skill to produce, has no effect on the amount of money someone is willing to pay for it. How do we know? If you take a real example of two necklaces we had in our shop (not in stock now!). One has taken three days of handcraft, cutting, molding, beading and finishing. The other is made of a precious metal, but has taken two hours to make. Both are handmade, but the time and skill involved in making the non-precious metal necklace is 5-10 times that of the precious metal one… however, the precious metal could demand a higher price, and our customers reacted much better to it.
We have learnt that there are things that people recognise as being valuable – silver, gold, stones, real leather, silk, and the branding of a luxury brand (regardless of quality of product). These things trump skilled labour every time. Why? I think this is because in London we are detached from handcrafts, we don’t make things ourselves and we are completely used to a mechanised manufacturing process. We are told to value branding, and we know that we can melt down gold and sell it, it is tradable so valuable.
What are the consequences of this? Well – for us we will continue to source beautiful handmade products. However, on a subtle level we will have to change. We have had to realise that it is not enough to get something that is beautifully and skilfully made… it also has to have something else, some recognisable value because it is too difficult to explain to people the skill, we are too detached from it. The consequence on a wider level is that things will stop being handmade… if you do not have a premium on handloomed material, why will it still exist? Hopefully, before this happens we can persuade you that having handmade is very important and it should be worth more.