Challenging the Status Quo of Personalised Design

Can you put the price on personalised?

I struggled so much with determining at what price point should I put my personalised handmade bespoke planners.

Why are we being made-to-fit instead made-to-order?

Today, almost everything is commercialised, everything is standard, and when something is promoted as “personalised” or “customisable” — it’s in a rare form and often false advertising.

Coming from Croatia, people here aren’t very much used to paying a lot for planners of any sort. An 10 euros planner is consider expensive. In other parts of Europe, a normal hardback planner is around 40 euros. So — if I make the price too high, my local market won’t buy the product or I will need to make extra effort in explaining the added value the personalised planner offers. But, if I set the price low, then I ruin the stability of my international market because the standard that they are used to is much higher and by putting a low price on my product, they are fearful that what they are getting is something of low quality, instead of the opposite.

Let’s break down my work time for one planner:
To create a planner, in average, I spend around ~20ish emails communicating with the customer and around 10 with the printing boutique, let’s say that in total that takes an hour of my time. It takes me around 3 hours to make 3 propositions of typography and colour palettes once the client provides me with the mood-board I asked to be made. Then, once done, I spend around 5 hours searching and making custom illustrations that I will use in the planner and another 5 hours making wireframes of every different spread. Once the planning phase is done, the design usually takes around 20 hours, revisions around 2 hours and making it print-ready an hour. I’m the one that picks up the planner from the printing boutique once it’s ready, and that’s ~25 minutes from my home. So pick up takes about one hour. If I need to ship it, then I lose also an hour for the postal office or meeting with the client if they’re in the same city as I am.

It all sums up to 40 hours for one planner. A whole work-week, if this was my full-time job, but it’s not. At best days, I can do 3 hours of planner work per day, usually it’s two. So, for one planner, it takes me three weeks to finish it. Pretty sustainable business plan, right?

But was it a stupid idea?

The short answer is — yes; but it goes a long way. Pricing the planner very low was at the very least unsustainable. Having it priced low, my costs were high and margin almost non existing. So at best, if e.g. I’d get 20 $— for 40 hours of work, that’d be half a dollar per hour I’d be paying myself (Thanks, Franka!). I’m sensing you can see why I said it’s unsustainable…

BUT, more important then money in life is experience — with people, startups, business, economy, other humans! I look at this as an almost unpaid internship which offered me a big dive into the real world and understanding of how everything functions. I’ve built my grit, resistance and human relationships; I’ve enjoyed making other people happy by offering them something purposefully made for themselves (by themselves!); and have sincerely enjoyed creating an artwork out of something as“simple” as a planner. And that, that is indeed priceless. (Get it, ’cause it literally was)

I wouldn’t be a developing human being if my past experiences didn’t enrich me with new knowledge. I’ve decided to open an Etsy shop with my younger sister and have the planner listed there. The price point is currently at 180$, with the costs getting higher because of a few things: more high-end production, my little sis helping out and getting paid as well as Etsy selling and transaction fees.


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This post was originally published on Medium.

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