Dana Bechert | Episode 343
Dana Bechert is a full time ceramic artist living in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Dana was raised on the Connecticut shoreline by two artisan parents. Growing up Dana was introduced to various trades and skill sets, including pottery. Dana attended the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore Maryland. Upon graduating with a degree in Interdisciplinary Sculpture in 2012, Dana started her eponymous ceramics studio and has been working as a full time potter ever since. In addition to pottery, Dana spends lots of time working in her large vegetable garden and putting her pots to use in a variety of cooking disciplines.
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How do you determine what a customer is willing to pay for your product?
I just make my prices based on whether some things are my favorite or not, it actually will cost more. I know it’s maybe not very professional but I determine it more as what I would like to get for it rather than what I think people will pay for it. I am not sure if that is the right way to do that but sometimes people end up buying my favorite things that I have marked up because I kind of don’t want to part with them.
Do you have a target customer in mind when you are making?
Not really. I just make the things I like and hope other people like them too.
How do you react to your fellow potters’ pricing structures?
I definitely reference their pricing to see what sort of market value is. I know that comes into play. Some items in particular have a more comfortable threshold for how much people are willing to pay. A mug for example, I think people would have a hard time paying $150 for a mug, because they want to actually be able to use it. Whereas I am able to charge what I want for a vase because that is more of an art object, which I think is kind of a shame because I like the idea of people feeling comfortable actually using my stuff. I like making mugs and preparing food out of my pots. But, yeah, I reference what other people are charging for things and I think there is a huge range of prices for pottery. And I think the market value historically has been so low. I think it is undervalued sometimes.
Do you think it is important as someone who has to worry about market trends, do you think it is important to offer different levels of products in order to have different price points for people?
What do you mean a different level?
For instance, highly decorated, highly carved pieces and then a similar piece but less intricacy, less time. So maybe it would have a different pricing.
Yes, definitely. That’s what I try to do. That has taken me this whole time, my three year long career, to figure out how to find that range in my practice. I make everything myself so it is hard to make sure I have everything in stock at all times. I try to have a range of prices and now I have other clay bodies which I charge less for, stoneware, bowls, and dishes and stuff. My earthenware and planters I make relatively inexpensive. They still have patterns on them, they just don’t last quite as long as the porcelaine. So I don’t feel comfortable charging as much for them.
What do you do with the temptation to want to drop prices, especially if a customer is standing in front of you humming and hawing?
I would do that. If I thought I could make the sale I would drop the price. My boyfriend is a wood fire bread baker and I used to work farmers markets with him and he’s really good at making people feel like they are getting a deal. I learned a lot of direct sales strategies from that experience.
How much is the idea the value of your work as opposed to how much time and material you put in?
I think that is more that half. Because I do wholesale and those vendors have to charge a certain amount for my pots, I try to keep the items I offer a little more streamlined.
How do you keep buyers buying?
I think just staying in people’s minds eye helps and remember who you are. There are so many different things people can look at and buy these days, it’s just important to keep your exposure up.