What to Charge and how to Collect (from “Dainty Work for Pleasure and Profit” by Addie E Heron)

It made me smile to see how, over a century later, the same problems remain as tricky as ever! What follows is a transcription from the 1894 version of “Dainty Work for Pleasure and Profit” by Addie E Heron (including original typos and spellings) although the daily rate recommended her may need changing! That said though, consider that this amount was no mean consideration back in 1894 and is surely a reminder never to sell one’s time too cheaply:

What to Charge and how to Collect

and especially is this the case where parties are acquaintances, and may be friends. The social relation should not be considered in this connection, and the only successful method is to adopt a rule of procedure to be applied to all cases, and apply it impartially. Never accept an indefinite order, as

“my dear Mrs A. I believe I will have you get me up something for my dressing case, something pretty!” “What would you like?” “Oh, I’m not particular, just anything that would suit you!”

Never be betrayed into filling such an order. Insist upon the name of the article being specified, the nature of the work, the scheme of color, the amount of work, cost and nature of the materials, and last the price of the whole when completed. Make a memoranda of the items in the form of an order, read it to the lady and pass it to her for her signature. This will preclude the possibility of any mistakes being made, and leave no loophole for misunderstandings to occur when too late to rectify them. Be sure to fill all orders according to agreement, make out a bill for the work and present when the work is delivered, and insist gently upon payment at that time; if this is not possible have a definite time set when you are to call for the amount, and be punctually on hand. Women, as a rule are apt to be careless in regard to the payment of such bills, and allow them to run into indefinite time, but they will none the less be your customers because you insist upon your rights in a dignified manner.

When the parties are not known to you insist upon an advance payment of at least one half the price when the order is taken, and the balance upon delivery.

Do not work too cheap, neither be exhorbitant in your charges. Make the estimate of cost upon the time occupied in filling the order; at the rate of $1.50 per day is a fair consideration. When possible furnish the embroidery silks, linen or other threads used in your work; by this means you will always be certain of having correct shading and then, too, the profit on the same will be an item worth considering at the end of a year, as you will be able to make arrangements to secure these materials in small quantities of the wholesale houses.

The chapters on “Shading,” “Designing,” “Stitches,” “Materials,” “Art Embroidery,” including “Roman Embroidery,” “Kensington and Satin Embroidery,” “Application of Stitches,” and “Drawn Work,” contain all of the instructions necessary to thoroughly equip one for “Order Work”, without the aid of a teacher, if even the learner has had no previous instructions in embroidery, providing she has any natural aptitude for the work.


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