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Transparency as an Artist

Updated: Jan 31

Being open and honest about everything from material sources to environmental impacts.

A look inside Miniezshops Frog DIY Sculpting Kit


Welcome to Miniezshops blog with myself, Elizabeth. Today's post is focused on the brand new DIY Sculpting Kits I made for you!


I believe it’s essential for businesses to be transparent so I want to be completely honest and open with you about the costs and standards behind Miniezshops DIY Sculpting Kits.


These DIY Kits aren’t a “cheap” product but I believe the experience they offer and the values they convey are worth the price.


There are 3 categories I want to tell you about that impact the pricing:


  1. The cost of the kits, all the materials and labor that goes into them,

  2. The standards I have for these kits and,

  3. The mission behind making these kits.


Category One:


For you to know the cost and the price of the kits there’s a business formula I’d like to share. This is a nearly universal way to calculate how much a product should cost:


The Cost of Goods & Time x 2 = Wholesale Price, x 2 = Retail Price

For more context, here are some helpful definitions:


  • Wholesale Price: Is the cost retailers purchase products from creators at.


  • Cost of Goods, or COGS: What the materials cost. I purchase all the materials, the clay, boxes etc., for the kits at a wholesale price from suppliers.


  • Retail Price: The final purchase price.


Since I'm the one who sourced all the materials for Miniezshops DIY Sculpting Kits and put in the effort to find those suppliers, I use the preceding concepts to calculate my wholesale price. So, I combine all the material and assembly costs together and times that dollar amount by two. This is the price retailers, shops, and boutiques pay for the DIY Sculpting Kits. The price markup is to cover all my business expenses like insurance, my website, my time, etc.


In order to cover all their expenses, the shops then times that price by two. That’s the retail price. The retail price is how much the “end user”, or the person who actually wants to use the kit, pays.


You may wonder why I don’t sell the kits at my wholesale price on my website; since there isn’t the “middle man” of the retailers. This is because retailers will not buy products if they can’t sell them at the same price others stores are offering those products at. If I sold the kits at wholesale price, no shops be willing to stock the DIY Sculpting Kits. Plus up-keeping my own retail website is expensive.


Now that you've read all that conceptual material, here are the numbers: I currently have 3 prices, which are dependent on the amount of clay in the kit. A $45, $55 and $65 kit.


* A small note: If I were staying exactly true to the business formula (cogs x2x2=retail) then the kits would cost more around $50,$60 and $75. However, with economies of scale, the more materials purchased, the less each individual piece costs.


For the first few DIY Kits my guess is I'll be ordering materials for up to 50 kits at a time. However, I've calculated that once I'm able to order materials for 100 or more kits at time, I'll be following that equation. This means, as more people learn about and purchase the kits, I’ll be able to have a more sustainable profit margin.


Fun Fact: I was the accounting tutor in college so I have pages and pages of spreadsheets calculating all these costs to make sure I could sell them at a fair price.


Category Two:


That was a lot of information so let’s move on to the second category which is the standards I have for the DIY Sculpting Kits. There are 5 standards I used to created the DIY Sculpting Kits, each of which I'll expand upon:

  1. The first is having the best materials,

  2. Second, I’ve tried to source from as many American companies as possible,

  3. The third is sourcing from companies who have fair wages and working conditions,

  4. Fourth is keeping a low environmental impact,

  5. Fifth is staying true to Miniezshops mission “sharing the love of sculpting”.


Standard Number One: is having the best materials. I spent so many hours sourcing the materials. While I didn’t keep track of the exact amount, it took a few months worth of searching.

  • The clay is the most critical material in these kits and Cosclay is included. It’s my favorite and the only clay I use for my personal projects.

Over the years I've used many many brands of clay and will have a blog in the future about why I prefer Cosclay but here's a short version of why I chose Cosclay. The kits could have used Sculpey or even some cheap non curable clay. However, I believe if people experience “bad clay" they’re more likely to give up. I don’t want people to give up. I want these kits to build confidence. Sculpey is alright but it cracks pretty easily in the oven. It can be brittle and break frequently. Cosclay is more flexible, it’s very easy to mold and warms up quickly.


  • The tools. There are a few tools I find essential for growing your sculpting abilities. To make sure the kits included these tools I spent weeks trying to find the perfect set of tools. The ones in the kits are my top choice for introductory tools, out of hundreds of options, plus they’re a soothing blue color.


  • The boxes and illustrated instructions were entirely designed by myself. These went through a few rounds of samples and iterations to get right. I spent days refining the art work, making sure everything was easy to follow, and created a happy calming aesthetic.


  • All the other materials are what I use for my own personal sculpting projects.


Standard Number Two: Sourcing from as many American companies as possible. Here's a list of the materials and companies I was able to source from in the US.

  • The clay: Cosclay is a company based on the east side of the USA that was launched in 2019. They’re also really nice people.


  • The boxes: I design the boxes and then print them with Packola. They are headquartered in California but print in Ohio.


  • The instructions and size guide: I design them and then print with Vista print. It’s headquartered in the Netherlands and the US offices are in Massachusetts. The instructions usually come from a printing facility in California.


  • The baggies for the hardware pieces are from a company called Clear Bags. They are a family owned business based in Tennessee.


Standard Number Three: For the companies that aren’t in the US, I’ve chosen companies that, to the best of my knowledge, have fair wages and working conditions. The materials I source outside of the USA are the tools and small hardware items. The fact of the matter is, there are no companies in the US that make these sort of products. So, I scoured Alibaba for these companies and only chose ones that met my standards. Here are the companies:

  • For the tools it’s a company called Yiwu Tengyuan Painting Materials Co, Ltd. They are based in Zhejiang, China.


  • For the earring materials there are two companies I’m choosing between. The first is Yiwu Lucky Jewelry Co Ltd. The second is Yiwu Airan Trading Co. Ltd. They’re both also based in Zhejiang, China.


  • The lobster clasps come from a company called Dongguan Bomei Jewelry Co Ltd in the Dongguan, China


  • The eye pins come from Yiwu Qinghui Trading company, again in Zhejiang, China.


  • The pin backers come from a company called Zhongshan Yiqihong Hardware Co Ltd. They are also based in Dongguan, China.


Standard Number Four: Keeping a low environmental impact. This is very important and I will tell you how each company I’ve sourced makes that a priority.

  • First off the Clear Bag baggies, are industrially compostable. They’re a member of the Sustainable Packaging Coalition, and are taking 6 measures to reduce their carbon footprint. So over the past 20 years, they’ve made a lot of eco conscious steps that you can read more about here.


  • Next we have the Packola boxes. Everything they print is recyclable. They use sustainably sourced inks, have a lower carbon shipping footprint since they’re in the US, and have a tree planting program. Read more about them here.


  • Moving on to the Vistaprint instructions. They’re also recyclable and practice responsible forestry. They’re committed to being carbon neutral by 2040. You can read more about their sustainability measures here.


  • For the clay. Cosclay has gone through some toxicology certifications and their testing standards were ethical. Also, shipping within the US decreases the carbon footprint.


  • There’s not too much information as far as the hardware and tools go. A few of the companies have raw materials sourceability but as I learn more I will keep you updated. Shipping wise, the carbon footprint is reduced by ordering straight from the source rather than from a middle man.


* A disclaimer. The tools and clay are still packaged in plastic. This is the only option currently and I hope to change it in the future but I want to be honest with you about that now.


Standard Number Five: Ties into the third category, which is “staying true to Miniezshops mission of sharing the love of sculpting.” I’ll share more about this in a later post but I’ve had several difficult experiences in my life that sculpting has helped me healthily process.


So I will be donating 1 percent of revenue from these DIY kits. I have a few causes I’m deliberating between but will update you in the future. I have a feeling it’ll have something to do with hospitals because I spent so much of my childhood in hospitals. 1 percent may not sound like much but it will add up to something helpful. Perhaps in the future I’ll be able to give more but I want to start with a form of giving back already in place in my business.


Category Three:


This third and final category used for the DIY Sculting Kits is about the mission behind the kits. The goal is to share the love of sculpting and to help people find their happy place.


There are many stressors in life, and many opportunities to ignore or bottle up that stress, especially digitally. Sculpting is a healthy outlet where you can create something tangible, something you are in control of. When you sculpt you have the power to change a blob into something beautiful, and if you can turn a blob into something beautiful just think of what else you can accomplish or overcome.

Sculpting can reduce stress and build artistic confidence which can lead to confidence in general. Less internalized stress and more confidence? That sounds like a better quality of life.

That’s why it’s Miniezshops goal to share the love of sculpting. By that I mean for people to fall in love with the process of sculpting, to love what they make and share that experience or their creations with the people they love.


I hope you found this transparency informative. I’d love to hear your feedback. If you have any questions please let me know in the comments below. Of course you’d like to get your very own DIY Sculpting Kit click here. Also, it would mean so much to me if you could share this with the people you care about.


Thanks for reading, hugs - Elizabeth (miniezshop)

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