I posted this info over on Tumblr, and thought others might find it interesting!
Someone just sent me a note that read:
"Seeing all the materials you guys use for your fursuits, I can really see why they're so pricey. "
Thanks for noticing! We are asked to justify our prices pretty often, or even accused of charging too much, but I think a lot of people just do not realize that there is A LOT of expense (and not just in materials), and a TON of time that goes into making each suit. And sure, lots of people plug in features to our price calculator and come out with a $3000-$7000 figure, and must be imagining us sitting around in bathtubs full of cash. Truth is, we don't make a whole lot of profit - where does it all go?
First, consumable materials. These are items that need to be bought new for each and every suit because they get completely used up in the process. This includes casting resins, sheet plastics, foam, polyfill, paint, elastic, velcro, pattern paper, thread, and FUR.These items total approximately $300-$350 for a fursuit of about this complexity
But wait, there's more! A lot more - consumables are pretty easy to figure out on a per-project basis, but after that we go into general expenses, and for that we need to start taking averages. So, with the aid of last year's tax documents...
Let's say we make roughly 2 costumes per month - and again, this is going to have to be the "average suit", somewhere in the middle of the scale and complexity of all of our projects - I figure it all equals out to a fairly simple 1-color fullsuit. We charge about $3,000 for a white wolf suit. Here's what goes into that (note, all figures are last years TOTALS for these categories, divided by 24, or two suits per month):
Materials and supplies: $1200(and I rounded this DOWN) (includes the consumable materials above, plus mold making, tools, equipment, and equipment maintenance)
Contract labor: $800 (aka Mom's paycheck)
Taxes: $550 (this is state and federal)
Studio overhead: $500 (40% of our rent and utilities are claimed as a business expense to reflect the amount of our house that we've devoted entirely to the business)
Other fees: $350 (includes paypal fees, shipping expenses, etc)
Total Expense: $3400
Luckily we turn out just a little more than 2 costumes a month on average, so we end up breaking even most of the time. When we can manage to turn out three or four suits a month (that's one suit a week) on average, we start making a modest profit.
ALSO! the average costume takes about 100 man-hours to produce - subtract the already accounted-for contract labor, and we come out with about 60-70 hours. We would like to make at least $20/hour, which means we would have to charge at least $4600 for that same white wolf costume in order to actually sustain ourselves at a 2-weeks-per-suit pace.
Now, I see this being a potential question:
If you were to do the math and say, "Ok three people with 100 hours of work, over 10 days - wait a minute, are you actually proposing that you should each only do a little over 3 hours of work a day?!"
No! And this was a bit of a lack of clarification on my part. Let me explain.
Firstly, our actual work pace is definitely more than two of these a month on average. It's probably closer to 3, hence the fact that we are not operating in the red.
Secondly, and more importantly, is the difference between "man-hours", aka active work hours, and everything else that happens during the work day. The work day encompasses those active work hours (in other words, times when we are actively pouring resin, shaving fur, running the sewing machine, etc), and ALSO transitions between tasks, setup and cleanup, breaks, and administrative duties (email answering, bookkeeping, inventory and ordering, etc). After you add all that in, the time spent "per costume" easily doubles.
I hope this information has been helpful to everyone reading it!