because they are trying to make a living.
If you divide the time they work hourly on actually putting the material together, it’s almost less than minimum wage.
This original post’s opinion is something I have unfortunately seen people repeat. The gyst of it is that OP believes suits are cheap to make, so suitmakers must be overcharging. Furthermore it suggests the conclusion that suitmakers are charging the prices we do because of greed. I thought I’d lay out a couple points to help people understand why professional suitmakers charge the prices we do.
So, let’s pretend that you want to make professional-quality fursuits for $200 each, in expenses.
1. If you are lucky you may be able to find the fabric and foam you need for $200 (though this is at the bare minimum spectrum of material costs). Now, how are you going to make each suit? In order to make professional-quality suits, you are going to need a few things.
You will need to own a heavy-duty sewing machine ($400+), airbrush ($100+), airbrush compressor ($100+), electric drill and correct bits for making eyes ($50+), professional-quality electric clippers ($100+), silicone moldmaking and resin kits ($25-50 per kit), titanium scissors and sharpener ($25+), new shoes for feetpaws ($20+), rubber matting for soles ($20+), electric carving knife for thick foam ($25+); this is indicative of the tools used to create a typical fullsuit, but many suitmakers use other tools that also add to the expense (like dremels, vacuum-form tables, etc.).
You will also need to take into account your thread, needles, pins, polyfil, airbrush paints, lacquer, gluesticks, garbage bags, adhesives, sharpies/chalk, razorblades, zippers, eye plastic, buckram, machine oil, elastic, sandpaper, resin, and patternmaking material, which I won’t calculate here. You will eat through hundreds of these necessities every few weeks. And if you want a website, you must pay annually for your url and monthly for your website server.
So, a modest estimate for tools alone comes to roughly $900 NOT including any of the things that actually go into the tools to make them useful, which you will need to restock regularly.
2. It would be fair to want to be compensated for your specialized labor. A professional-grade fullsuit should take you about 2 weeks of work. The average professional suitmaker produces 2-3 suits a month. Suitmaking of course is a very specific set of artistic skills that takes years to develop, and only a handful of individuals in the world can make suits professionally. So, if it hypothetically only costs you $200 per suit for materials, how much do you charge for labor? At minimum wage ($8.50/hr), 80 hours of work (2 weeks full-time) will come to $680.
This means if a suitmaker’s material costs are $200, and they are paid minimum wage, they will on average be left with $480 for every 2 weeks of full-time work. This comes to $960 a month. This is barely enough to pay electricity, water, food, and rent, let alone cover the restocking of basic materials. Unfortunately you *probably won’t* want to go out and get a second job if you are making suits professionally, because you already work 40 hours a week.
3. You must pay taxes on the suits you sell. That’s right, self-employed people like fursuit-makers in the United States have to pay self-employment tax (15.3% in 2014) AND income tax (another 15%). That means if you make that $960 a month, you must pay almost $2000 a year in taxes.
Suitmakers like me charge what we do in order to compensate for the financial investment we participate in every month, in order to produce a high-quality, lasting piece of original wearable art for you. We spend dozens or even hundreds of hours on each costume, lovingly rendering it to match your design. We strive to make our customers happy with their costumes, not only because of how they look but because of how well they are made and will hold up over time. We do *not* get rich doing this. We dedicate our lives to this craft; it is our career.
Do you still think we charge too much?