I’ve had a few people inquire over the last several days about if my pricing will change a lot since there’s this event later this year or that next year that they’re hoping to still get to attend. Since I just read something concerning that I knew was likely to happen, but now have confirmation, I’m going to address this here. Money is never a comfortable topic, but even less so now that the world has been upended.
Many fabric manufacturers have stopped producing fabrics for the time being. I’m not sure who all retailers and wholesalers those manufacturers ship to, though I do know that Gap Inc (owner of Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy) is among them, and I’m not sure yet what that will mean for us here in the future. Right now, I do have a stash to fall back on (thank goodness–I was called obsessed and crazy and all kinds of things by old friends for my stash…well, good thing I didn’t listen), and will be trying to stock up on anything else I can that I anticipate needing to try to prevent having to increase pricing, and to lower some where I reasonably can, effectively a pay cut.
That’s the short answer. Of course a short answer means there’s a longer, expanded answer as well.
In the mid-2000’s, while I did custom commissions still (not even a full decade after starting Aria Couture), I was working in the tech industry in Silicon Valley. I didn’t, when I was laid off, that I was the first of so many more, and then very soon after, a new word became one we’re all familiar with: Recession.
The following years were very difficult, with times where things seemed great, then crashing again down again, and when I say crashing down, I mean we were legitimately homeless from 2011 through 2014, and the entire time my husband had a job (never, ever believe that all homelessness is financial responsibility or drugs–in our case, the landlord’s daughter and son-on-law got evicted for not paying their own rent, so the was putting them in our house without giving us enough notice to get another place). Our “home” for that time had a V8 engine and far too little space for two adults, a toddler, two cats, and two dogs. At one point we were going to rehome the girls (our dogs–the cats are “the cats”) since they needed more space, but at the last minute, we just couldn’t. Emma died in October 2017. Luthien is downstairs. To say it was hard to keep this business going in that time is an extreme understatement. Everything made from 2011-2014 was made when we literally had no home. We eventually found an apartment, a difficult thing when you have no current manager/landlord to list and four animals, but that up-and-down took its toll on me, and made the anxiety disorder I already had so much worse and my instinct became to squirrel away what I could.
In that apartment, I stocked up and kept buying more and more in case everything fell apart again, and picked up the pace when we bought our house in December 2016. All the time, there’s been this constant sense of panic within me. When you hit rock bottom, you no longer say “it can’t happen to me.” You’re no longer ignorant to the fear of closing the door behind you so you can go to your new…not-home. And I’ve been constantly worrying about “but what if.” Even now, with my husband in a position where him being let go would mean the company is closing (when the company runs the servers for places like Walmart, and Amazon uses the company’s software…not likely to go under right now), there’s still a panic.
Building my stash became a security blanket. It helped me breath a little easier.
But the other part of why I stocked up as much as possible, and the continued to push the bounds of what my house could hold was to try to future-proof pricing to an extent. I’ve been at it long and hard enough, sinking as much as possible into it that I’ve got upwards of $100k worth. It became “better to regret getting it than to regret not having it later.” Stuff for more Arwen gowns, German steel spoon busks, silk taffetas, trims… I’ve been damned lucky to be able to do this. (But no, my stash will not be for sale.)
So I’m going to take what steps I can on my end to, for at least for as long as possible, keep prices where the are, if not lower. As time goes by, I’ll absorb some of any supplies cost increases, as I’ve done for years, and hope that nothing is drastically increased enough that I’ll be forced to raise them. I’ve been fortunate to be able to do this for 21 years, couldn’t have done it without so many of you, and am going to do what I can to lower what I can (the aforementioned pay-cut…again, I know I’m very lucky right now to have stability, and am lucky that I can slash my own pay). If there’s anything anyone can think of that I can do, please let me know.
Times are scary right now. A lot more will be changing in a shorter period of time than any of us have had happen before. I don’t know what the world will look like in five years, just that I’m scared of it. Regardless of the idiot in charge of this who thinks he knows better than professionals, the people will come out on the other side of this and rebuild, not only in the US, but everywhere else as well.