The adventures and musings of an aspiring shoe designer

I recently saw this in a little magic shop on their counter and really liked it so I asked the owner if I could take a picture.  I’ve actually given this a lot of thought in the last couple of years.  As I attempt to manufacture my own product I have a different perspective on price, value and quality.  This also ties into my thoughts of downsizing the unnecessary out of my life.  A few years ago I started to feel overwhelmed by the accumulating “junk” in my home, of course when we bought it we weren’t thinking we were buying junk but ultimately that’s what it ends up being a lot of the time. 

With this in mind I started cleaning house, literally and also started changing my buying habits.  How I look at things now as I am removing the clutter and unnecessary items from my house I ask myself a  series of questions. 

1. Do I use it?

2. If so, how often?

3. Do I love it?  

4. Is it a treasured item that brings me joy in some way?

If it doesn’t pass these tests I have been able to let it go and have learned that I need much less than I used to think I need.  I also find myself shopping with these same questions in mind.  I have bought a lot less of everything this year because of it. If I am trying on clothes and I am not excited about what I am seeing in the mirror, I put it back.  If you don’t love it in the store you surely won’t like it in a week, or at least that is true for me.

As a manufacturer my original thought was that I needed to produce the best quality and only use the best components because this would ultimately give my customers the best product. However, now that I’ve been at this for a while I am changing the way I view this.  My current opinion is that value is really the most important factor and depending on what the purpose is I assign value accordingly, based on what is important to me.  The value I place on an item gives me the formula for how much I am willing to pay. I tend to be both frugal and extravagant depending on the situation and I can be both of these things in the same five minute period. 

For example two of my dogs love to chase tennis balls but one of these dogs is always losing them or biting them in half so although I use them daily and feel like they are a necessity in my weekly shopping I am unwilling to pay for the good ones, obviously it doesn’t make sense to do that.  If I were a tennis pro I imagine I might have a different opinion but, as these are for the dogs to lose and chase I don’t need the best. However; I have found that there is one brand (I will not name names) that is not the cheapest, probably in the average group, but these ones, because of their quality or lack of it,  are easier to destroy, sometimes within 3 chomps.  I have learned that these are not worth it for me, the ones I do buy are a titch more expensive but can take a few hundred chomps. 

When I shop for jeans however I will find a pair that looks good and feels good, I don’t care what the price is.  I am short so I have difficulty finding a good pair of pants that don’t make me look like a munchkin.  Because of this difficulty in finding good pants when I do find them I keep them for as long as they last, I will wear them as long as they still look good.  Based on cost per use even if I pay a small fortune it is worth it to me. 

When I shop for jeans for my son it’s a different story, he is tall and grows out of pants very quickly. I tend to buy only a couple of pairs at a time for him and although we don’t get the cheapest as a rule I am more frugal in this area because I’ve learned I will be back in a month or two to buy more jeans for him regardless of the quality.  Either he will grow out of them or he will ruin them so it’s not worth it to buy quality or pricey jeans in this situation.

If I am buying something real trendy that I know will not be fashionable next season I wont’ pay a lot of money for it.  Again based on cost per use and the fact that I tend to get tired of trends really easy I don’t assign a lot of value to this kind of thing. Usually I will do trends in shirts and jewelry and if they don’t last the entire season I am not heartbroken about it. 

If I am going on vacation or have an important event, usually a couple of times a year I will buy something that makes me feel good.  These feel good items have a lot of wiggle room for me because these are the  items I will buy simply to treat myself, I know I probably will only wear that beautiful gown once but, you only live once.  This is where the “do I love it” comes in, if I am absolutely taken with something I will assign more value than it is probably worth because I love really beautiful things. 

If I buy something very cheap I tend to assume that it won’t last and for some things that is fine, some things don’t need to last they just need to fill a purpose.  I also find that if I pay a premium price for something because I think that the quality is better and it falls apart, I am expecting the store to fix the situation and I start to develop an opinion about just how good the quality of their products are.  If the store handles the situation well they earn some bonus points if they handle it badly that will end it for me.  I have a strong sense of customer service and I will vote with my money.  I can get over a quality issue but I cannot get over a service issue.  However if the particular brand continues to have quality issues I vote with my money there as well.   As we all have learned just because it has a premium price does not mean you are getting  premium quality and I have a much higher bar for anything that is priced above similar items in it’s category.  I don’t have any hard and fast rules it’s just what I find myself doing.

So keeping this in mind if you are a manufacturer it is important to understand what purpose your product serves.  Who is your customer and why are they buying your product? There is a market for high, mid and low price in every product, but you need to be aware of why people are buying your product and what the expectations are at each level.


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