It’s quite possible that I’m still just a little emotional from Yay New York, and I’m still thinking a lot about how we collectively have the power to change things—the wedding industry most definitely included. I’m still thinking a lot about the way our conversations shape things and really matter.
So putting together today’s sponsored post, and watching Up Up Creative‘s video (Watch it. Do it.), I got a little teary. Here is what’s happening. Julie, of Up Up Creative, a super talented wedding invitation designer, has decided to do an experiment for the month of September (starting right now). For a whole month, she’s letting you name your price when you order her wedding invitations (and custom design is included).
It’s really simple. You go to this link. You place your order. You name your price. And that’s it.
This experiment isn’t designed so everyone can screw Julie over and get super cheap wedding invitations at less than what it costs her to make them (because that is not how we roll here at APW). The experiment is designed to jump start a conversation about value. It’s designed to jump start a conversation of what we want the wedding industry to be. To me, it’s also about jump starting a conversation about community. Because if one of us can pay less for Julie’s art, and one of us can pay more for Julie’s art, how can we use this conversation about value to make sure everyone has access to beauty?
Julie’s video about the project (which you should really watch, whether or not you’re in the market for wedding invitations, because it is awesome), says this:
It’s about getting a dialogue going about value.
The value of handmade.
The value of supporting an independent business.
The value of good design.
The value of working one on one with someone.
Think before you name your price.
And please be fair.
Amazing, no? So before you order your invitations (and think seriously about your price), or send this link to everyone you know getting married, I’m going to let Julie talk a little bit about why she started this project:
The best way I’ve come up with to describe this project to people who look at me like I’m crazy is to say that I had the business equivalent of that sudden, aching need to cut off all your hair or dye it fire engine red. Something felt too staid and formal, perhaps.
But it’s more than that, really. It’s that there’s a conversation I want to have, and this seems like the honest-to-god best way to get the conversation going.
Entrepreneurs and artists and people like me, we spend a LOT of time talking and thinking about prices and money and value. What value does our art have? What value to what audience? How do we put a dollar amount on that? How do we look customers in the eyes and ask them to pay us to do something we’d probably do for free if we didn’t have, you know, bills to pay and kids to clothe and mortgages howling at us like wild dogs.
But I want to talk about it. I want to talk about value. I want to trust that my work really does have value, even without a price tag attached to it.
And also, I want to make you think. I want you to think about how to make the most of your wedding budget—to make it speak for you on the subject of value.
Because in a weird way, I really believe in the wedding industry. As much as even I complain about its wastefulness, about the exorbitant costs and the silly things we’ve been led to believe we *need* to have and do, I really love the wedding industry for the way that it brings together regular everyday people with the artists, makers, and doers in their communities. When besides a wedding, after all, would most of us hire a calligrapher, or a chef, or a musician? And what purchasing decisions do we really make with such thought? Who, for example, makes an inspiration board of toothpastes and razors? Who interviews the guys at each cell phone kiosk in the mall selling smart phones for $99?
There are ways to be mindless about wedding planning, and there are ways to be thoughtful. My experiment is about being thoughtful. It’s about establishing a relationship and starting a dialog.
Which is why I didn’t decide 100% to do it until I had talked to Meg. If anyone knows about getting the conversation going—getting people talking about even the toughest, most awkward things—it’s APW. And Team Practical? They know how to jump in. They know how to converse. They know how to create relationships.
And I’d like you to talk to me this month, and hopefully beyond this month.
Q: Can I order now even if I’m not ready with my wording yet?
Q: What’s the catch?
A: There is no catch. You name your price, I fill your order. I would really appreciate that you not take advantage of me and make me lose money on this, but I’m going to honor all purchases this month no matter what.
Q: Are there any extra fees built in?
A: When you check out you’ll name your price and paypal will add $15 for shipping and—if you are shipping to a New York State address only—8% NYS sales tax. Otherwise, there are no extra hidden fees. Your own-price invitations will come with the same things regular invitations come with: envelopes (including 5% extra envelopes), an extra invitation for framing or scrapbooking, digital proofs (PDF, via email), and up to two rounds of changes to the proof. Additional rounds of changes, which are pretty much never EVER necessary, will incur the same additional fees as always: $40 per round.
Q: When will I receive my order?
A: I’m going to do my best to stick to my usual order turn-around times, and in fact I’ve enlisted extra help to accommodate the possible onslaught, but since I have no idea what kind of volume is going to come in this month, there may be some delays—I will let you know right away at the time of ordering what kind of timing we’re looking at. Obviously the earlier you order the sooner your stuff will arrive so it’s in your interest to order as soon as you’re ready.
Q: Can I still order a completely custom design from you during this month-long experiment?
A: Sure thing! You can name your own price for the design and for the printing. It might be best for us to talk before you name your price just so we can both get a good idea of what the process will be like.
Q: What will happen in October?
A: I have no idea! It depends a bit on how September goes. I’d love love love to continue this as a pricing model but I need to assess the experiment and see whether it worked for you, worked for me, etc. I’d really love your feedback on this whole thing, by the way—good feedback, bad, even ugly.
Q: Can I decide to pay nothing for my invitations? To get them for free?
A: You know, I suppose you technically *can* do this, though at checkout $15 for shipping will be added, but I hope that you won’t. These are real tangible goods you’ll be getting, and real hours of my time. There are actual costs associated with wedding invitations, which I hope you’ll take into consideration when you name your price. I’ll honor low prices, of course, since I’m committing to going all-in for the duration of this experiment, but I do hope you’ll remember that there’s a person at the other end of this transaction.
Q: Is this for real?
A: Yeah. It is. I’m a real graphic designer with a real invitation business. My invitations have been featured in BRIDES magazine and all around the web. You can read customer testimonials here on my website or on theknot.com and many other major wedding-industry sites (Project Wedding, Wedding Wire, theweddingchannel.com, etc.).
Q: What if I want to order more than one set of invitations?
A: It would be easiest if you would process two separate “name your price” orders to help me stay organized and sane. I’d appreciate it.
Q: What if I want to order other items (like calendars, posters, greeting cards, etc.)?
A: Unfortunately, anything in my regular web shop at upupcreative.com will have to be processed separately from your “name your price” order(s).
And now. Let’s talk about this.What do you think about this experiment? What do you think about the idea of value, and art, and allowing people to do what they love without them ripping you off or you ripping them off? What conversation does this spark in you?
Now let’s do this thing. You can only change the world one step at a time, but this seems like a good place to start today. So go order your wedding invitations from Up Up Creative already, and then let’s talk. And also, if you’re not in the market for wedding invitations, but you want to support Julie while she works on this excellent project, may I suggest her other work? Like her gift wrap? (Hint: I want).
Now spread the word….