Mindset Shift Increased my Prices (Part 2)
Continuation from Mindset Shift Part 1
If you missed it here’s Mindset Shirt part 1 of this story.
Following on from previously working for 2-4 months on some custom client work for about £2,800. This was the custom order that I worked my little socks off on (photos below) hand painting and working on creating many original watercolour elements rather than buying artwork like many other stationery designer do.
If you click on that link above, you will have to scroll to the bottom of the post to see the suite that I designed.
Photography by Mouna Tahar from Memoiresenor
I charged £2,800.
I was at that time living in Saudi Arabia (we previously lived there for 12 years – the best years of my life before moving back home to England).
I had to buy materials, glue, paper, ink cartridges for printing, calligraphy ink, watercolour paints which I had to ship in from England to Saudi Arabia.
I imported hand made paper from New York to Saudi Arabia because the bride loved hand made paper and I wanted to over deliver in the hopes that perhaps the planner would refer me.
I had to pay, materials, shipping and in the end all of those costs came out of that amount. Once I had taken out all of the costs and looked at what I had left for the months of worked I had ploughed in I hardly made anything.
Sorry, I can sense that I’m going off on a tangent here…..
Yet, it was astonishing that I had no clue how to price my services appropriately.
Exactly what was the catalyst that started a chain of events, or a series of conversations that caused this transformation? Well here we go.
An eye opening conversation around a mindset shift
A lovely wedding planner wanted to meet me and have a chat. It was the lovely Helen, from Helen Erikson weddings.
We hopped on a Facetime chat. I have no idea how we managed to get around to this subject but I mentioned how much I charged and I saw how she gasped and shook her head. She immediately said that I need to work on my mindset and make a mindset shift. What the heck that meant I had no idea.
How could I just think myself to better pricing?
Curiously, during the conversation I plucked up the courage to ask, “So around about how much can your clients spend on their wedding stationery?”
“Around £6,000 – £7,000,” she answered.
That was the first step in a large picture that started to open up to me. Sometimes you have to listen out for the clues in life and really pay attention to following them to the bigger picture. It was the first stone throw in the pond that sent ripples flowing outwards. But it was not yet enough for me to take action or change my mindset enough to create an actual mindset shift.
I somehow needed more outside proof or some other form of acknowledgement. To be honest I thought that because this planner was so lovely that she was just being kind. I was still not convinced that it was possible.
What happened next was big
I have no idea how this conversation came to be and truly believe that God bought this my way.
Somehow on Instagram, I happened upon a wedding photography agency that represented many leading photographers and creatives in the wedding industry over in the states. I have no idea how this happened but I manage to connect with her over DMs and started on the conversation of pricing. I asked her to take a look at my work and let me know from her point of view, upon first glance what she thought I could achieve with my pricing, or at least what I should be aiming for.
Now before I continue, I must say this. DO NOT, do not approach random people, give them a few likes, comments (on Instagram) and then expect that they should coach you for free. I worked up a genuine connection before I messaged this person and asked for her opinion and support. People are busy and you cannot expect people to share all the secrets that they have learnt through all their years in business, unless you pay them for mentoring or coaching. You need to know that you cannot expect everything for free.
I will keep her identity private but here is what she kindly said after consulting other planners in the states.
Mindset shift – shock and reaction
I can vividly remember receiving those DMs. I walked into our then dining room and closed the door behind me. The house was still and everyone was sleeping.
During the stillness of the night, I sat down and read these messages with tears in my eyes. Bubbling over with emotions of happiness, shock and being astounded but so incredibly grateful and full of hope I placed it half the time over my mouth and half the time on my heart.
It was such an emotional time for me and this was what I had been working towards for all those years.
To finally be able to get that recognition and outside acknowledgement was a massive jaunt of what was possible for me, if I only embraced it and internalised it with conviction.
Up until that point I convinced myself that no one would want to buy anything from me because I was the only Muslim, hijab wearing woman in the industry. Believe me whenever I post an image of myself on Instagram or when I show my face on a video or a reel on that very same day I will have any people unfollowing me – yet this is reality which I am acutely aware of.
Change of mindset – moving on
The social proof was now there. How did I move on and address my own negative mindset.
I went into a period of self discovery, I did an extensive period of research into how essential and pivotal mindset was to the success.
Here’s one of the videos that I watched, amongst many others.
I started listening to videos about the law of attraction and I started to write down a list of business and income goals.
NEVER EVER… had I listed or written down in any shape or form a list of actual goals. What did I want to achieve next year, what types of clients did I want to serve, where did I want to do weddings.
Now I don’t believe that the universe and its atoms will bring me clients, but I do have a firm belief that God is the provider.
I started to say everyday, £8,000, £8,000 client. Now this was a huge, huge number for me to say.
I looked at myself in the mirror and repeated this many times. I knew my work was worth this and I had outside proof. I also did not want to go backwards and end up earning less than the minimum wage.
It really hurt when family members learn that I had some editorials that were really high end, in palaces around the work but was hardly earning enough to pay the rent.
I tried to repel but attracted instead (This is Pre-Covid)
The greatest shocker of all that completely changed my mindset and gave me the most impactful way of making a mindset shift was was happened next!
As mentioned previously, my husband had an engineering job out in Riyadh and we had been living in Saudi Arabia for 12 years. Eventually we knew we had to move back home and finally we found out that after 12 years, my husband’s contract would not be renewed.
We had built our dream villa in Portugal and had to pack the entire house contents and ship everything to Portugal. We were set to travel for our annual summer holidays to Portugal as we do every year but then instead of returning to Saudi I would go back to England with my sons while my husband would finish up and join me two months later.
In short, I was moving from Saudi to Portugal and the to my mum’s house. I had no rental property, no car and zero space for my things.
It was at this time I had an enquiry from a leading luxury wedding planner from Los Angeles for some wedding invitations. At first I thought this was some kind of a joke and honestly DID NOT WANT THE COMPLICATION of having a client during this time. If I did somehow have a client during this time, it had better be worth it for me, or it was just not worth taking on with all those circumstances.
So incredibly, to repel the client and pretty much get rid of them I gave them a huge price. The starting price was £8k, then £10K and £12-15K. Again, my only intention was to repel this client. I sent them a rough range of prices while I was actually in Saudi and ever expected to hear back.
I took my mac with me in our suitcase and we all flew off to Portugal. Unexpectedly they replied and wanted to book my services and said they would be able to possibly increase their investment level if needed.
They ended up booking me for a £8,800.
Here’s the suite that I designed for this client.
I hope this blogpost was insightful and helps you to understand that we can aim higher and still be successful. We have so many limiting beliefs and I still have to work on my mindset all the time.
Yet if you make a goal and if you strive towards that goal anything can happen over time. You may not be in a position to raise your prices in the current Covid climate by 425%. But is a smaller increase that you can gently make over time?
Now it’s over to you.
Please let me know if you as a creative professional or as a business owner if you have yourself been through a mindset shift with your business model or pricing? I would love to hear from you and will always (eventually) respond here to your beautiful comments.
Visit my shop to buy my prints or original artwork.
SoniaMarch 8, 2021 - 7:50 pm ·
Hi! I just wanted to say CONGRATS on your mindset shift!!! This is really amazing and I’m super glad to hear you managed to find the courage to raise your prices.
I’m a graphic designer in my day job (I do calligraphy on the side, too :)). I’ve been doing that for years and I know I’m not the best but I am very much good enough. Yet whenever I get a commission on the side, I underprice it. I know pretty much ALL of my graphic design friends do the same. We try to coach each other but I don’t know if any of us ever raised their prices by even 10%… I think a huge part of that is a lack of proper education about jobs/setting up your own business and money in school (ironic, since we live in a largely capitalist world, where everything is about money). Now, luckily we have YouTube and blogs, and books. Too bad we only start reading about it when we’ve had enough, when we’re on the brink of burnout or not being able to support our families…
It’s really hard to price creative work because, of course, you can estimate how much you’ve spent on materials/tools etc. But how can you translate the hours put into educating yourself, honing your skills, and going through the creative process to a monetary value? Oh gosh, if anyone knows an equation for that, please let me know! I think you did the best thing there is, calculating how your pricing looked in relation to the minimum wage in the UK. That’s a very good starting point.
What I’m trying to say is that I, and a lot of other creatives, I’m sure, really do get how huge it is, what you did. All the kudos and happy designing <3
Rubana GasparMarch 8, 2021 - 8:15 pm ·
Hi Sonia, First of all thank you so very much for kindly taking the time to read my blog and then responding with this wonderful comment. The way that I now go about pricing is always based on how long the project will take me and how many pieces I have to produce. My pricing model has also change incredible and how I set up my pricing. Every time to give out your pricing do try to increase it 5% or 10% as you go. It will boost your confidence and you will get better clients. Try!
Donna LaValleyMarch 9, 2021 - 2:14 am ·
I have been thinking about making high end wedding/event invitations for a while now. I have an art/design background . Formerly I was an art teacher to grades k-12. I also do calligraphy. I wasn’t even sure if handmade wedding invitations were a thing because I figured no one would spend what they were worth (experience, supplies process time). So when I started looking into it I found you. I am seriously considering going this route and have even started making samples but I have a LOT of questions. Would you be willing , when you have time of course, to speak with me on the phone and answer some questions I have ? Thanks
Rubana GasparMarch 9, 2021 - 8:58 am ·
Hi Donna, that sounds so very exciting. I will email you personally so that we can discuss your having a mentoring session with me.
EendiraMarch 10, 2021 - 3:47 am ·
Awesone! It’s a great story. Thanks for sharing because it’s inspiring and encouraging. Of course, the quality and strong personality of your artwork made possible that connection between your effort and clients expectations. Congratulations for your success! I’ve discovered recently your artwork thanks to Lindsey Bugbee. She wrote a blog post with several recommendations of modern calligraphers, your artwork catched my eyes immediately. I’m striving to find my own style and selecting my favorite references. Now I’m in your fan club! Thanks again. Warmest regards, Ere
Rubana GasparMarch 19, 2021 - 9:10 pm ·
Hi Ere, thank you for this comment, I’m so happy that you found me through the online universe that we all seem to exist in nowadays.
Susannah ParkerMarch 10, 2021 - 7:50 pm ·
This was a fascinating read Rubana and I loved the video link as well. As a relatively quiet, discreet person in an industry full of larger than life creatives, I’ve been working hard on my mindset during this enforced ‘break’ and good things are happening …. I have no doubt that there is a connection between the two!
Rubana GasparMarch 19, 2021 - 9:11 pm ·
There certainly is a connection between the two and I do feel as though better times are in the pipeline and will happen soon.
RositaMarch 22, 2021 - 5:26 pm ·
Rubana, so happy that you were able to change your mindset and are now earning what you are worth for your creativity, skill and time. I enjoyed the video you included. She is a good speaker.