Saturday, March 21, 2009

Champagne on a Beer Budget

I'm not a wealthy girl. And while the term "starving artist" would most appropriately label my income, it in no way defines my lifestyle. As I type, I'm nibbling on a Ganache brownie made by a professional pastry chief who sells tasties from her Etsy Shop "Fancy That Cookies". I'm not exactly sure what ganache is, but I'm pretty sure it's the closest thing to heavenly sent manna. Along with my decant brownies I have a Chocolate Torte that's literally too beautiful for me to eat, so it's going to my mom as a gift. Now why, might you ask, does a girl who makes such little money, invest in professionally baked goods? No, it's not because I'm a fat girl with a chocolate addiction. (not that there's anything wrong with a chocolate addiction--for the record.) It's because I traded, bartered, exchanged goods for them. Trading has become my favorite past time. I trade for whatever I can get my greedy snobby hands on. Fine pastries, lavish homemade soaps, custom fitted hand crafted jewelry, fine art prints, soy candles and vegan organic face lotions. Items that even if I made a lot of money, couldn't afford on a regular basis. But little broke Mary can, and frequently splurges on herself and loved ones.

But how? It's simple. I have talents and items that others want. And I want their talents and items. Why would I spend overvalued government issued paper money when I can use my arts as commodity? But don't think it's always easy finding fellow artists and crafters who are willing to trade. It takes some patient and kind queries. Don't pressure others to trade and don't get your feelings hurt if no one wants to trade with you. If you aren't successful in finding folks to trade with, it just means that you aren't asking enough of the right people. Or, maybe you just aren't giving them enough options to choose from. I've had a few people ask me to trade and when I have a look at what they have to offer it's a poor showing. Make sure that what you have to trade is a valuable commodity. It might be something like housecleaning skills. But you better be a good house cleaner! Or maybe you can crunch numbers for taxes, but make sure your math is a hell of a lot better than mine or I'm never going to trade with you again. And of course, some people don't trade simply for their own personal reasons which are really none of our business.

Here's how I generally think about trades:
I could spend 1 hour at an average 9-5 job making $8-$12 an hour or...I can spend 1 hour painting some of my glassware for a woman's wedding toast worth $60. The value of the glasses is in the time and talent I put in. But my raw cost is minimal. Now this bride-to-be makes beautiful sterling silver jewelry. We make a trade. She gets the glasses-- an expensive set to boot-- and I get a pair of custom created earrings worth about $60 that I can't afford.

I could keep going on and on about trades I've made but my brownie is gone and I've got some cookies to sample next.

(items pictured above are from previous trades that I've made. All images link to the Etsy shop where they were sold. Please admire their work and do not spam them for trades unless you ask very politely and won't get your feelings hurt if they say no)

1 comment:

  1. Mary, I am also a fan of trading. This year, I got several great holiday gifts by trading on Etsy. :-)


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