I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the difference between cost and value. As I get older, I find the way I shop and appreciate things is changing. In the past, I was susceptible to the lure of the sale or a bargain and the cost of an item was uppermost in my mind.
But all too often these bargains weren’t what I needed or wanted. They ended up languishing in my wardrobe unworn. Very occasionally they were (husband look away now) a complete waste of money and ended up in the charity shop unworn.
These days, I shop much less regularly and only when I want or need something. The price is still important but it is never the first thing I consider. The most important consideration is how much pleasure a new item will give me. Because I shop less often, the pleasure factor is increased.
The second thing I think about is the perceived value to me of an item. If it is something I love and will use or wear often and treasure for years, I will buy it and I will spend much more on it than I would have in the past. I don’t wait for the sale because the nicest things never make it to the sale, they are snapped up quickly. As a result, I have fewer items but I absolutely adore them. I buy less but I buy better.
I don’t often spend a great deal on individual items of clothes – except perhaps coats - because even the loveliest pieces will look dated, washed-out or worn out relatively quickly. Having said that, I never buy cheap fashion. The cost to everyone except the purchaser is just too high. I will buy from small brands whose designers I admire. I am much more likely to spend well on accessories as these will give me pleasure for years to come – classic leather boots; fabulous cashmere lined gloves, a Sarah Haran handbag, a Klements silk scarf.
Nowadays I hardly ever regret a purchase but I do still regret not buying things. I wish I'd bought more silk on my recent trip to Cambodia and I am distraught I let a beautiful jewelled lariat let slip through my fingers. Yes, it was expensive but it was such great value.
This approach has been really honed since founding Lily Blanche. When I first established the brand, I made a resolution. We would treat our customers the way I would want to be treated in an ideal world - with respect, with honesty, with transparency and with integrity. I decided I would price the items in the collection as fairly as possible. I would pay my staff well and I would ensure anybody who worked in my supply chain was treated fairly and with the respect they deserve. We don’t inflate our prices but we don’t constantly try to drive down our suppliers’ prices either. Behaving ethically in my business really matters to me.
It is important to me that the price you see when you click on an item on the Lily Blanche website, is the price you will pay at the checkout. Everything is transparent. No hidden costs. I'd rather give all customers free chains, lovely packaging and free shipping than give random customers occasional discounts. I know that our prices are lower than our competitors and our quality and craftsmanship is higher - often much higher.
So while we will have special offers and some codes in the run up to Christmas this year, we won’t be doing the very deep discounting some retailers are indulging in. We have not raised our prices, in some cases for over three years now, and we have absorbed cost increases without passing them on to our customers. I firmly believe Lily Blanche jewellery is special. I know how much work, craftsmanship and precious material goes into every piece. It is not mass produced and it often sells out. It is, in short, fabulous value.
Our prices start at £35 for silver pendants. That feels reasonable. Lily Blanche is not for everyone and that is OK. I don’t want to cater to a mass market. I’d rather have a smaller band of loyal customers and that is just what we have. They are lovely people and we engage with them on social media. I feel I really know them and that is important to me too!
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