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What should I charge?

DesignandSew | Posted in General Discussion on

Help!  I have been asked to design and make a wedding dress for a client and don’t know what or how to charge.  The client has stated that money is no object (can you believe that?) I plan on asking for a deposit and the balance upon completion but I don’t know if I should purchase the materials and calculate a materials charge plus my labor or just set a cost for the dress and with a maximum materials cost calculated into it.  Please let me know what you think.  Thanks to anyone who can help me with this:)

Replies

  1. sewchris703 | | #1

    I do alterations at a bridal shop.  My boss also did custom bridal (she is now 76 yo and is phasing out the custom).  She would give the bride advice and her expertize in what fabric to buy and how much to get.  She also had a list of fabric stores that carried the type of fabric she recommended.  Her labor price was based on how long it would take to sew the gown, taking into considerations the lace appliques, beadwork, etc. that was one the gown and  the type of fabric being used.  Also she drew her own patterns from the bride's measurement.  A custom wedding gown would start at $500-$600--simple gown with little or no train and little or no embellishment.  I think that the highest she charged was $2700 for a silk dupioni gown with bugle beads totally covering the bodice and a 15 ft detachable train.  We called it the suit of armor.

    When I do dressmaking outside the bridal shop, I base my price on $20 an hour.  But I don't do bridal outside of the shop.   Ultimately whatever you charge will depend, in part, in what custom bridal goes for in your area.

    Chris 

  2. dressed2atee | | #2

    Hello,

    Since cost is no object this should be a fun project.  When price is an object, I remind the brides that bridal shops addtional for alterations!  When you have a gown customade, there are no alterations!

    Since you are designing the gown and not just sewing it, I think you should charge some sort of fee for the design. 

    To purchase fabric or not?  If you can't buy wholesale, let them buy everything.  I can buy wholesale, so I usually purchase everything and give them a total price.  My pricing range from $500 for a plain satin gown, no train or beads/pearls to $2500 for gowns that have lots of ornamentation and detail.  I don't usually do any beading the fabric is usually bought already beaded.  The lace that we decide to use is also something I consider in pricing.  Expensive lace can make the price more even if it is a simple gown. 

    If I'm making the gown from a picture, I add $100 to the overall cost because I have to create a pattern. 

    If you have done a wedding gown before, you know it is sometimes like making 3 dresses in 1!

    I ask for a third down, a payment at the 2nd fitting, and the balance when they pick up the gown.

    Hope this helps.

    1. sewchris703 | | #5

      I'd also get the final payment in cash to avoid non-payment of a check after the gown is out of your hands.  That has happened to a dressmaker friend of mine.  The bride balked at the final payment, wrote a check just to get the gown and then called the bank and stopped payment on the check.   My friend no longer does weddings.  My bridal shop only takes cash or charge for any payment made within 2 weeks of the wedding date/pick up date. 

      Chris 

      1. dressed2atee | | #6

        Yes, I do follow that policy.  After a check bounced on me once, although the person did come back and pay me cash for the nsf check.

        Thanks

  3. rekha | | #3

    There was a woeful and rather infuriating tale recently. So your first port of call is contract drawing with conditions of alterations etc. That way you can proceed without the worry of altercations at the end

  4. damascusannie | | #4

    Be careful when someone says "money is no object"! Believe me, they have a dollar amount in mind and anything over that is going to shock them. I'm a professional quilter and people are always surprised when they find out how much it costs to have a quilt made from scratch. They have no concept of the time involved.There are only three reasons to have a dress custom-made: 1) They think that this will be a lot cheaper than RTW. 2) She's designed it herself and you'll have to actually figure out how to make it work. 3) She's a very challenging shape to fit and, again, you'll have to figure out how to make it work. Worst case scenario is a combination of all three! Be sure to estimate your time HIGH. Better to estimate high and give them a reduction on the estimate at the end. I never charge more than the actual hours worked on a project, but I do estimate my time generously so that there are no nasty surprises. I've never had a client complain about a quilt coming in under budget. I agree with rehka-- Brides are notoriously difficult to work with and it's best to get it all in writing. Write up a contract stating exactly what you will be doing and how much it will cost, be sure to state that any changes to the original design will result in extra charges and ask them to initial this clause, which shows that they actually read it! Also, include a "weight clause" to cover any alterations that occur after the final fitting due to the bride suddenly gaining or losing weight. I have a friend who does alterations in a bridal shop and this happens quite often. Establish a payment structure. At the very least, make sure that your materials costs are paid up front and are non-refundable, so that if there are problems, you aren't out of pocket at the end of the day.

    1. sewfar | | #8

      Amen, amen to all that you said as well as getting the final payment in cash.

    2. DesignandSew | | #9

      Thanks for all of the great advice.  I wondered about the whole money is no object thing...I will try get a price range from her at our first meeting and I have several designs for the bride so I will be doing the designing, pattern making, etc...  I've made custom formal wear before but this is the first time I've been the opportunity to design it myself.  Do you have a source for sample or general contracts?  Thanx!

  5. jjgg | | #7

    The prices people have listed so far are way below what I charge for a custom wedding gown. Also, I think you should have control of the fabric purchase, most likely she won't know silk from poly. You charge a sourcing fee or other 'up charge' on the fabric if you purchase it. Beading etc is usually charged by the hr. If you are designing and drafting the pattern, then you need to have a charge for that as well, $100.00 - $200.00 for the pattern work depending on how complex it is. If the dress involves a lot of PITA fabrics such as layers of chiffon or charmeuse, I would raise the charges even more for the difficulty involved with them. Then look at the details, does she want the hem done by hand or machine?Good luck

    1. DesignandSew | | #10

      Thanks for the heads up about PITA fabrics, I hate working with them so if I have to suffer so does their checkbook:) 

  6. Teaf5 | | #11

    Some really good advice so far!  Another way to get a ballpark figure is to check out the prices of high quality bridal shop dresses and then figure on charging about 1.5 or twice that.  Shops have the advantage of volume inventory, markups, and return policies with manufacturers that you will not have. 

    An old rule of thumb for individual craftspeople is five times the cost of materials, but sometimes, that wasn't nearly enough for the work of a custom gown OR a bridezilla!  Err on the side of caution and get everything in writing and secure payment.

  7. mainestitcher | | #12

    Maybe not only a deposit and final payment in cash, but installments along the way, too if the work is very involved. I have had a couple experiences in which I've had to hold on to finished items because the customer couldn't pay.There was a saga a couple summers ago, on the PACC website, of a seamstress who produced an elaborate embroidered wedding dress for a woman who, ultimately, did not pay her for the finished project and disappeared.

    1. dressed2atee | | #13

      That's really too bad!  I usually set it up so that they can make a payment at each fitting, so it usually comes out to be about 3 to 4 visits and then a final pick-up and payment.

  8. Cherlyn | | #14

    Charge for your time.  She should go with you to select the fabric and trims and she should pay for those up front.  She will then owe you for your time.  When I make Christening gowns, I always meet with the client to discuss the design first.  Then we take a shopping trip to purchase materials.  The client always pays for the materials.  I charge for my time (so much per hour).  Find out what some people are paid in your area. 

    If the wedding dress design is simple, you time may not get too involved, but you get paid the same as you wouold for something more difficult.  A detailed gown may come with some handwork which could slow you down.  Make sure that whichever, you have enough time to  complete the project without feeling rushed. 

  9. BernaWeaves | | #15

    The wedding dresses that I've seen online that are custom designed and made, (and that I would really want to have made for me) were in the $2300 to $3000 range.  Make sure you state that sort of price up front, as "price is no object" usually means "HOW MUCH?" 

    And get everything in writing, and paid upfront before the dress is picked up.  They can pay in installments, but get paid before the dress leaves your hands.

    Here's a couple of websites I just love to just drool over:

    http://www.medievalbridalfashions.com/index.htm

    http://www.rivendellbridal.com/alldresses.html

     

    Berna

  10. User avater
    ThreadKoe | | #16

    Good Luck and Have Fun. Remember to put everything in writing. You might want to add a small clause in there that says in the event of cancellation of the wedding, the bride will assume all costs to date and will pick up the remainder of the dress, finished or not. Unfortunately this does happen and you don't want to be saddled with an unfinished garment that you do not own and can not dispose of. Tragically this happened to a seamstress friend of mine and 10 years and 3 moves later, she still has these 2 dresses!

    1. DesignandSew | | #17

      I have finally put a contract together using the info from everyone who replied.  I calculated the cost and labor for the gown twice and I must admit I was surprised at the cost...$3400.  I just e-mailed it to the client and had to keep reminding myself that I need to be paid for my sewing skill, experience, and custom design work.  If she feels I'm high then I may not get the job but at least I'm pricing items so I can make a profit.

      1. User avater
        ThreadKoe | | #18

        Funny isn't it, we wouldn't think twice about what a contractor would charge to make cupboards or an addition to our house, yet the skill levels involved would be the same, the labour the same, why do we sometimes shortsuit ourselves?  Vera Wang started out this way and look at her now.

        1. DesignandSew | | #19

          That's true! By the way, my client accepted the contract, no questions asked and said she has put the first two payments in the mail:)

          1. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #20

            Congrats!  By the By, when meeting with your client, always dress as a professional.  Even when working from home, you need to dress as if you work in a high quality establishment, because It Is!  Good Luck and have Fun.  Cathy

          2. MaryinColorado | | #21

            Wow!!!  That's wonderful!  It's great to hear that she values your expertise!  Mary

          3. SewistKitty | | #22

            A few months ago someone wrote a post about measuring the client each time she comes in for a fitting and both of you keeping track of the measurements. Then she will know that she has to be held accountable for keeping her measurements the same as the initial measurements or there will be extra charges for alterations.
            Hope this helps.
            Kathy

          4. designsbysue | | #23

            Congratulations!  I too am just getting started - and I am certainly learning everything the hard way!!!  What did you use as a model for the contract?  That is such a good idea.  I have to get smarter.  For my first wedding gown - which started out to be a simple dress with a purchased pattern - now 2 months later is has been totally redesigned by me according to her wishes - and is satin with an overlay of lace - all for $250.00!!  I really is a learning experience!  My second wedding gown I got braver since I am designing it at her measurements are in the mid 50 range - I said $500 - now they seem to think that they own all my time - the mob commented that I needed to work for my money!!!!!  I will get this right eventually because this is a passion of love for me - as well as a way to supplement my meager income!  A lady called me this week and said that she had a simple dress and I said $175 and she said that was way too much.  I later found out from the fabric store that gave her my name that it was a complicated dress with some kind of a shawl.  So no more quotes over the phone without meeting the person and seeing the pattern and fabric.  And, while I am on the subject, I wish that they would not pick out patterns and fabric until they meet me - but I find that over zealous clerks at the fabric stores like to help them - only to find out that it isn't always right for the project.  Wouldn't it be nice if there was a resource book that answered all our questions.  There certainly are enough of us out there doing this.

            Sue

          5. DesignandSew | | #24

            It sounds like you've been learning via trial by fire.  The best piece of advice that Gatherings has given me is labor pricing at 1.5 to 2 times the cost of materials.  I typed up my own contract and spelled out specifically what clients would be charged additional labor including changes to the design after the contract was agreed upon, alterations after the garment was completed.  I didn't put a price tag on it but included it as a clause.  I also included the price and the minimum for each payment and when they were due in relationship to completion of the garment.  Don't forget to tack on extra for difficult fabrics such as chiffon, charmeuse, etc... I'm glad you're learning to see the work and then quote.  It sounds like customers are wanting custom work at a Walmart price.  Do not back down on your pricing, it does you no good to make minimum wage and it also shows that people have no idea the work and skill that go into a well made garment.  It also shows a lack of respect for your skill level and time.  One thing you do by pricing what you are worth is eliminate the crowd that want something for nothing.  You may have fewer clients but at least you'll have some who will pay you well.  Don't take it personally if someone makes a negative comment concerning your pricing, it just shows their ignorance.  My husband's hvac company is one of the more expensive in the area but he makes no apologies for his prices, they are in business to make money and have purchased several other hvac businesses that were going out of business because they didn't charge correctly.  Because I am charging a nice labor charge I am going to make sure I do an extraordinary job on this gown.  I am also doing the legwork for the materials so I can make sure the customer gets the best.  (That's another clause in my contract is that I help with the selection or purchase the materials.) Keep posting here as your business progresses,  I would love to see you do.  Good luck:~)

          6. bluefurs4 | | #51

            Hello, I just signed up today and started in the "how much to charge?" forum....

            I came across some advice that you had given to someone and found it to be very informative. I'm not that old and currently sit at home with my two kids, however I can say  that my mom has guided me along with my granny, to be somewhat of a Jill of all trades. I have a dear friend that owns a wonderful fabric shop and allows me to work for her when I need some cash, or just fill the need to get out of the house. Working there has been a great experience, learning the different fabrics and their usages. Also sitting at home, I came across my new all time favorite show... Project Runway!

            I love seeing them turn things into their visions. Well, I would like to write to you and exchange advise or knowledge some time... May sound silly but, true-fully I've never really just typed to someone that I didn't know personally. or for that fact, typed on the computer in a discussion forum ever.    Write more later, Hello to All!!!!!!!  

          7. Susan -homedecsewing | | #52

            Welcome welcome ! We have such fun here learning from all our friends. Its such a great resource, and you can be in your PJ's and nobody cares !You might want to fill in the profile info , just click on your name and the window opens. Then you can click on your penpals name and see where they live also. We've got interesting people from around the world on here, so cool. Nice to meet you, Susan

          8. bluefurs4 | | #54

            Thanks for the Hi .... I did find out how to update my Information, Thank you!

            Also I saw your web page, I think it was yours, There was like 20 something picts... All the work looked Great!... You would love the shop that I work at. The owner has so many different things to choose from. And the ladies that come in there are so different from one another. You could be have a great time helping in the design process of a client and then the next one could just make you want to kick them to the corner with some books and tell them to ask some one eles for help!...

            We have a room there that sometimes I go in and just laugh with thoughts of what in the world are these people thinking?  Well, I'm sure you have felt it too ,being a designer... got to go.. kids growing, and me stuck here! Help I think I NEED a LIFE....

            Just kidding. LoL.....  ;0P

          9. dressed2atee | | #25

            Good lessons learned...I never quote a price, especially for a wedding gown.  I have begun charging a $50 consultation fee!

            I then meet with the bride and we discuss what whe wants...I stress that the cost will be determined after the style and fabric is chosen.   If I'm making the gown from a picture it always cost more. 

            I charged $1300 for the gown pictured.  The bride had several pictures that had different aspects that she wanted collaborated into the final dress.

             

             

          10. Ceeayche | | #26

            Abosolutely breathtaking!  It looks like something you'd see on the red carpet.  (Candidly, my pastor would probably birth a litter of kittens were a bride to show up in something so revealing-- but the dress is lovely and I admire the workmanship).

          11. GailAnn | | #57

            Thought the same thing............and wondered what Christian denomination would allow a dress more bikini than bridal gown.

            25 years ago I sewed for a wedding complete with scarlet bride's maids gowns.  My husband always referred to it as "The Hooker's Wedding".  Gail

          12. BernaWeaves | | #27

            Gorgeous dress!!!  Wow!  But who is she trying to pick up at her wedding? 

          13. designsbysue | | #28

            Thank you!  The gown is gorgeous!!  What did she wear under the top?  I am experiencing the same thing with the several pictures made into one gown - and in the beginning they really don't know what they want.  This next bride I am going with her to have her try on some gowns at a bridal store - don't know if that is a good idea or not - but don't really know how to get her settled down on a design - any suggestions.  The wedding is October 4th.  I said by the end of July she should know what she wants.  I am only charging her $500 - but I can see she will run me ragged and this was supposed to be just a simple dress - so her Mom said because they do not have much money?????  I really appreciate the pics - you use the dress forms like I do.  I really need to get my act together and I know that a contract will help as well.  I need to get brave and charge a consultation fee too - but I think I need to have a few wedding gown pics to show what I have done first.  I am also very busy doing mother of the bride and groom gowns as well.  Funny -  what I really, really love is flower girl dresses - but haven't had one yet,  Thanks agan!

          14. dressed2atee | | #29

            You really have to take your work and yourself more serious!!! Your time running around with the bride is precious and priceless.  If they don't have much money, then she will have to get a simply gown.  Also, if I must go with them, they must drive!

            They would not go into a bridal shop and say "oh I don't have much money, but I want that $2,000 gown and expect to get it." 

            In all actuality, I custom made gown should cost triple an off-the-rack gown....I tell my customers this all the time.  As a matter of fact, one of the first things I ask them is why did you decide to have your gown custom made....if they say to save money, I tell them that my gown prices are comparable to a bridal shop.  I tell them that you don't have to pay extra for alterations because the gown is being made according to their measurements, it's a one of a kind, etc.

            I have learned to take charge of the process because if you don't you end up working too hard for not enough money! 

            An instructor said something in a class I took that changed my entire outlook on what I do..."You don't want a client to choose you because you are cheap; you want them to choose you no matter what you charge, because your work is that good!"

            Hope this helps.

          15. dressed2atee | | #30

            I forgot to answer one question:  What did she wear under it...nothing...she wanted her mid section to show.  In her words "I want to be sexy!"  :)

          16. designsbysue | | #31

             Wow!  I wonder what the Pastor or whom ever officiated  the service thought - I bet you probably placed the gorgeous flowers just right.  It sure looked like it was fun to sew - french seams on top - right?

            Thanks for your encouragement - you are saying the same things my family and friends are saying - they do know how good my work is - they reap the benefits from it.  I am just such a sucker for always wanting to help someone out - after all I am an "enabler".  My therapist is working on my!

            Thanks again.  Sue

          17. GailAnn | | #58

            Sexy?  I'll have been married 38 years come November.  I simply can't imagine a time when my husband would have wanted me to "show off my wares" in such a spectacular way, let alone at our wedding ceremony!  Doubt I'd have very much respect for him if he did.  Gail

          18. designsbysue | | #32

            I forgot to ask you - do you always make a dress out of muslim first? or go straight to the fabric?

          19. dressed2atee | | #33

            Oh yes, I make the entire dress in muslin first!  That lace was $60 a yd!

          20. rodezzy | | #59

            Wow, that dress is absolutly beautiful, perfect in every way.  I love it. 

          21. Teaf5 | | #34

            Congratulations!  Wishing you a smoothly completed project and a satisfied client--please check back to let us know of your successes.

      2. Susan -homedecsewing | | #35

        Good for you ! I often try to please people and kick myself for coming in way low. Times are hard, works been slow and it can be very intimidating to have to be our own managers. We sewers seem to be artistic and somewhat delicate creatures. The selling part of ourselves is difficult. I'm still working on how to come across as assertive and not be too full of myself at the same time. I just had a lady rush me thru a project, then call a day later and theaten to stop payment on my check because she doesn't like the design that was drawn for her in advance and she agreed to in her contract ! So I have agreed to take the cornices down, re-design at no cost , just to shut her up as she can ruin my business by bad mouthing me. I know she is wrong but to keep peace I'll shut my mouth and do what I have to do to make her happy.She was so cruel she made me cry, and that hasn't happened in a long time. I'm trying to figure a polite way to bow out from doing any more work for her, she's so nasty, I know she'll never be happy with anything I do for her.I'm proud that I kept my cool so far,it was such a shock to be attacked when she was happy one day , paid me, and hated it the next day !It is a very affluent gated community, and they all talk at the country club every weekend, so I need to think this over. Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated. Kind of changed the subject here, but I needed to vent ! Thanks, Susan

        1. designsbysue | | #36

          Wow!  That really is a delicate subject with her connections.  I don't think that I would turn her down next time, but I would try to talk to her and tell her how you felt and how concerned you are that it not happen again.  But you are right  - she can do you far more monetar ydamage than it is worth.  I have some connections for clients and at times I do things that I don't really want to just because I want to keep the referrals coming for other things.  I know that I am not much help - I guess that is where that "thick skin" we need to grow comes in.  I don't have it yet either and not sure that I could ever grow it.  You are right - we are the artistic types and do get hurt!  It's interesting because I have very brave sewing design ideas - the clients love them - and then for a little bit I get scarred when it comes to the final cutting of the fabric.  Does that happen to anyone else?  Once I talk myself through it I am fine and the designs always turn out (thank God!).  Good luck Susan - I still think talking it out is the best - you sound a lot like me and I am sure that you do establish good relationships with your clients.  You can do it!!!   Sue

          1. Susan -homedecsewing | | #37

            Thanks for the possitive words, I don't think I can find the words but I have some time to come up with them , Thanks again and by the way your work is fabulous !

            Edited 6/18/2008 1:49 pm ET by Susan -homedecsewing

          2. designsbysue | | #38

            How would you know that my work is fabulous?  Do I know you???  If you want I will help you find the right words to talk to the client.

            Sue

          3. Susan -homedecsewing | | #39

            Oh I made that remark about a picture of a wedding gown posted on this site. I thought it was yours .Not stalking you , just mistaken identity lol. My concern with having to go on working with this woman is that it's a no win combination. She is a bully, and a gossip, and brags about mistreating people and getting over on them.I just want to bow out gracefully. And not offend her in doing so.Its funny because when I first met her , I thought she was a very pretty person , with good taste, and I worked very hard and shopped for fabric for her on my own time, just to please her. I recovered 10 dining room seats for her in 2 days ,so she would not have to be without them long.I'm in an unusual position as I am selling making and installing my wares, when usually , sales people are a buffer, I am right out front, when people want to haggle it makes me uncomfortable. And something about sewing, I have found some women to be condescending, I feel because they wish they could sew as it is a womanly thing they should be able to do but cannot. So there can be jealousy and resentment. Have you ever felt that ? Anyway I do appreciate another persons take on the situation.Thanks Susan p.s. you can see my work at http://www.homedecsewing.com

          4. designsbysue | | #40

            Wow Susan!  Your work is fantastic!  good website.  I haven't even gotten a website up yet!  After what you just said about that client I change my mind and I would drop her like a hot potato.  I can said that because I just got done dealing with someone like that and there are some truly "evil" people out there.  She also sounds like one of them.  That type can't be helped and your instinct to back out quietly is correct.  I did the same and believe me no business is worth taking that kind of treatment.  Sorry that you also have to go through something like that.  Hang in there - you will survive and be the better for it.   Sue     p.s.  The work you do speaks for itself!

          5. Susan -homedecsewing | | #41

            Thanks for the encouragement, I owe my entire web design to my sweet lovely daughter-in -law. Can you believe she did that for me ! And she gave me 2 beautiful grand baby girls also.I am brand new to the computer, well since the babes came along,almost 3 years ago. I just had to have one because they live in Cleveland Ohio, and now I get pictures and videos sent every week, so it makes it a bit more bearable to be so far away from my loved ones .It sure has been nice to find this forum to share with other like minded people.And what a wonderful way to learn new things about our craft. Happy sewing, Susan

          6. dressed2atee | | #42

            HI Susan,

            I posted the wedding gown, thanks for the remarks.  Your work is beautiful and I am so sorry you have to deal with this overbearing client....get her out of your hair and wash your hands of her!!!

            She sounds like she is miserable inside that's why se gets off on mistreating people. The old saying misery loves company is a true one.

            Be truthful with her about how she makes you feel.  I am sure based on the work you have done previously that your clients will not listen to her bad mouthing you or your work.

            Stand firm and good luck!

          7. DesignandSew | | #43

            Your work is amazing!  I have done custom interior work and worked for a semi custom company and your designs and workmanship look fantastic.  Drop that bully of a client...she doesn't deserve you!  Why are you so worried about her feelings when she certainly hasn't been concerned about yours!  If she is such a nasty person other people know her for what she is.  Yes, she may bad mouth you and run you down the road to other potential clients but if they are her friends then they will be just as bad as she is and all you will be getting is more of the same.  If her acquaintances know her for what she is they will also know that she is never happy and probably does this to people she hires for plumbing, painting, air conditioning, cleaning, etc...on a regular basis.  I'll bet she is especially harsh with women.  Finish the current project, don't say anything about further work until her check clears.  If she contacts you about other work politely but firmly tell her will no longer be doing work for her.  (I have a friends who is an interior designer who had to do this recently with the same type of client.)  If she asks why politely but firmly let her know that doing work for her was a losing proposition and you cannot afford to rework completed designs without compensation. (I'm not very tactful but I'm sure you will be able to find the words.)  Make no apologies to her, she doesn't deserve any.  Your work speaks for itself.  Good luck:~)

          8. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #44

            Oops, this should be for Susan,
            When you are finished the current job for this woman, draft up a very professional business letter stating you will not accept further work from her. Do not say SORRY. Do not explain why. Make sure she pays you in cash. Then mail it to her. Something along the lines of :Dear Ms. So and So
            As of this date, June 21, 2008, I will no longer be accepting work from you. Thank you for your patronage.Sincerely,Business people do it all the time. If the gossips try to talk about it with you, smile and say nothing. Say Absolutely nothing Bad about her to Anyone. It is the mark of a real professional to be able to be discrete.
            If she calls you, simply tell her that there is no further discussion on the matter and politely hang up. This type of person is a bully and gets her power from pushing people around. When she can't push you around, she loses her power. You will be a lot healthier and happier, and she cannot hurt you. Your business will rebound quickly as she has no ammo to fight with as you have not said anything. You do amazing work, take pride in what you do. Do not let one nasty person undermine your self worth. She is only one person. The rest of your clients word of mouth will spread farther, faster. CathyP.S. We have had to do this ourselves.

            Edited 6/21/2008 10:54 am ET by ThreadKoe

          9. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #45

            Please read previous message, I accidentally addressed it wrong and don't know how to fix it. Cathy

          10. Susan -homedecsewing | | #46

            I thank you and I will take all you have said to heart. I'm going to politely tell her that our working together is not a good fit and wish her luck. I'm thinking about saying that she apparently isn't happy with my work so I'll kindly bow out from any further dealings.Not that I didn't like your approach, but its a little more complicated as she was referred to me thru a mutual acquaintance, ie. a retired decorator neighbor of hers. Who by the way had to stir the pot and criticize my work after the fact instead of helping with the decision making in advance.No disrespect to older people , but I'm 53 years old 25 years younger than these women and more up to date with my design ideas. This to shall pass.And about asking for payment in cash, yikes why does this scare me to death. Have you ever really said that to a client , I know it totally makes sense but seems a harsh way to come across, and as you can see, I'm a total kiss ####,people pleaser and don't take well to being yelled at and threatened with legal action.Sometimes this being professional gets tricky.Even though I do agree with your advise.I need to say this in person as I have some fabric of hers for some cushions that I must give her back with a reason why they are not going to be completed by me.Any other advise is well received and appreciated by me. I feel so beat up, could you come hold my hand and speak for me ?LoL

          11. sewchris703 | | #47

            My clients know up front from the beginning that the final payment is always in cash.  I will accept checks (I'm not set up for credit/debt payments in my at-home business) up to 2 weeks before pick up.  After that, it's strickly cash.  I actually got this business rule from the bridal shop I work at.  They have a similar rule.  They do accept credit/debit cards for all payments.

            Chris

          12. Susan -homedecsewing | | #48

            Thanks Chris for that info. I would think that with brides a wedding could be called off, or some other reason they may try to get away with a bad check that cash would be a good clause to say up front. But down here, these wealthy sometimes difficult clients want to be catered to and have even been quite "put out that I don't take credit cards". So I never had it be an issue before. Since I hadn't told her up front, it seems pretty distrustful of me to ask for cash now as if  I'm expecting her to be nasty in the end. I'm just not sure how to be tactful, and not make her more inflamed.But I'm giving it some thought for in the future, thats for sure.Some business courses would have been smart on my part. I've been very lucky , I've never got a bad check, Knock on wood !

          13. sewchris703 | | #49

            That rule seems to be the norm in the bridal industry; at least here in San Diego, CA.We do get brides who get mad but it is posted all over the shop including the dressing and fitting rooms.   But like any other rule, there are exceptions.  The shop has taken checks from long time customers and friends of the owner.  But that is the perogitive of the owner, we as employees can't make that decision.  In my private business, I also will take checks from family and friends.  But never from a new client.  They have to demonstrate trust and faith first.  And then it's still up to me and not them. 

            Chris

          14. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #50

            I really wish I could.  I wish I could wave a magic wand and make her go away for you.  *ping* and all the nasty ladies and gentlemen would go away. :) If only life were that simple.  At least you know you have our heartfelt good wishes and prayers on your side.   Cathy

          15. sewelegant | | #55

            Looking at your pictures it would seem to me that you do not have to apologize to anyone for your work.  It would appear that this woman is always trying to find something wrong with anything she buys so she can get a discount or a bargain and believe me her friends know about that side of her!  And if they are like her, do you even want their business.  If you have a good sample book and a few good references and a price list or even just a written contract with nothing left to word of mouth and she signs it what kind of damage can she do?  No other contractor works without a signed agreement.  I think you are right though to be pleasant.  Next time she calls make the price too exhorbitant so she will go somewhere else.

          16. Susan -homedecsewing | | #53

            You know I've stopped being the victim today and decided to just raise my price with this client ! If she goes away, well ok by me , should she accept, at least I will feel I'm doing the right thing . And I'll be very careful to get it all CLEAR before doing any other work for my new favorite pain in the ####. I'll let you know how it turns out. Such high drama, whew, exhausting

          17. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #56

            Susan -- that's the spirit. Charge 'em until you're having fun!!

          18. GailAnn | | #60

            EXCELLENT!!!!!!!  THE BEST ADVICE I'VE READ SO FAR. Gail

          19. User avater
            JunkQueen | | #61

            Or alternately, and probably much more appropriate in Susan's situation --- Charge 'em until you like 'em

          20. User avater
            ThreadKoe | | #62

            Susan- just read something in my Beadwork mag that was along the lines of the trouble you have been having. 

            A woman was having a customer rework something over and over because she was just not satisfied. 

            The expert suggested " that after noting  all the specifics of what a customer wants you to do...you add a disclaimer that says the prices are good for the initial work and one alteration or adjustment to the piece within one year of your completed work.  This would also serve as a kind of warranty on your services."

            Although this was for beadwork, I thought it might be something that would work for your business as well.  Cathy

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