My very very least favourite thing about this little clothes-making biz of mine is, hands down, pricing my stuff. Has always been , probably always will be. I suspect that this results from the fact that I am constitutionally deficient in the skills needed to deal with the rigours of this shindig we call capitalism that is, unfortunately, running the show right now. I just feel icky about asking for money for something that, 9 times out of 10, I've had an absolute ball creating. Mind you, the pocket money always comes in handy, especially in the midst of the shit-fight we're engaged in at the moment, trying to fund our little house build. And of course I do so love the feeling I get when I realise that, by paying for my clothes, people are actually saying "Hey! I dig what you're doing over here!".
But still, I've been thinking of ways I could start to get around or at least play with the boundaries prescribed by the "I do something for you and you pay me what I tell you" rules of the open market. This experiment was, in a little way, inspired by a cafe I visited in Salt Lake City (of all places) that had no prices, instead requesting that customers make a donation, according to their capacity and their feelings about the meal, or, if they weren't able to pay, to contribute in some other way, such as doing the dishes or taking out the rubbish. I thought this was a pretty ace idea, made somewhat acer by the fact that the cafe had been in operation for 12 freakin' years or something!
I few weeks ago I got an email from Denise, in Denmark, WA, who was looking to extend her P&E collection. Denise, I know from our previous interactions, is a pretty cool lady, who has always seemed to be very respectful and appreciative of what I do. These qualities (teamed with the fact that she calls her cat her "fur husband", which appealed to the part of me that thought it was a good idea to get my cat, Bunn's name tattooed in a big red heart on my leg) led me to believe that Denise was a perfect candidate to invite on my little pricing experiment. So, when the question I dread came up - "How much do I owe you?" - I replied by suggesting that Denise set the price according to what she thought the clothes were worth, and what she could afford. Initially, Denise was apprehensive and uncomfortable about the suggestion, but (and this is the bit I love) she recognised that her discomfort was something worth interrogating and trying to work through, so we agreed that she would set the price as long as I promised to let her know if it wasn't enough. I was stoked with this arrangement, and set to work sewing her skirts and boleros, astoundingly happy and safe-feeling in the knowledge that, even if we weren't putting an end to capitalism, we were at least playing with it a little bit.
I asked Denise what it was she thought made her feel uncomfortable. She replied: