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Thread: Kiltmaker Wage

  1. #1
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    Kiltmaker Wage

    Hi,
    I'm about to graduate from a kiltmaking course and became keen to continue into kiltmaking work until I realised late in the day what the rate was.
    I was advised that per kilt 85-100 is offered based on an 18 hour make time and that this rate was in keeping with the industry standard in Scotland when kiltmaking for a highlandwear company - surely this cannot be right. Please could anyone with relevant knowledge of, or experience with, Scottish kiltmaking rates for retailers offer any insight into the validity of this?
    At 100, this would equate to 5.56 per hour and as the minimum wage in Scotland is 8.21 I am finding it difficult to fathom how this can be the case for skilled work of this nature (fully hand-stitched, bespoke kilts). Information and clarification would be greatly appreciated, many thanks for your time.
    Last edited by redredrose; 15th March 20 at 02:26 AM.

  2. #2
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    Yes it is a shame that you did not do the maths before you embarked on the course. I have no knowledge on the various costs that go to make up the end price of the kilt to the customer, but assuming your figures are correct ----and I have no reason to doubt them------I am not in the least bit surprised.

    As an end user of bespoke guns, rifles, fishing rods, saddles, kilts, suits, jackets, trousers, shoes, hats and shirts in the past, I have always wondered how the "cake" was divided up between the various aspects of an item's construction. In your case you have the figures to prove your point.

    Frankly, I cannot see things changing and no doubt your employer will have figures to counter yours. Welcome to the harsh realities of the ruthless world of business life! In the end you must decide and perhaps, you are going be left with the hard choice of, take it or leave it. It may not be fair----- often, it is not fair----but whoever said that life was fair?

    Sorry.
    Last edited by Jock Scot; 15th March 20 at 04:33 AM.
    " Rules are for the guidance of wise men and the adherence of idle minds and minor tyrants". Field Marshal Lord Slim.

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  4. #3
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    I hope some kilt makers can chime in with comp rates for you, OP.

    However I could see how bespoke, kilt makers get a lot of competition from cheap pakistani products that undercut them by quite a bit, especially when kilt wear is far from the norm and uninformed buyers will often go the cheapest route.
    Descendant of the Gillises and MacDonalds of North Morar.

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    I am not at all surprised. It's one of the reasons that I do only custom made kilts sold directly to a customer. It takes me 18-20 hours to make a kilt, and I charge US$325 for labor and materials other than tartan (i.e., tartan is additional). So, subtracting buckles, straps, lining, canvas, thread, etc., I'll round that down to $300. That's $15 an hour, folks. For skilled labor. How many people do you know who can make a top quality kilt? Yup, skilled labor. How many of you are skilled laborers in a trade? How much do you make an hour? Would you look for another job if you were being paid only $15 an hour? And no benefits of any kind, and taking into consideration none of the other expenses of running a small business? I am very grateful that I do not have to make a living making kilts.

    If I were making kilts for someone who was going to sell them and make their own profit plus cover their own online retail business or a bricks and mortar store, I'd be lucky to get half that. So, let's say US $!50 per kilt for the labor part, if someone jobbed out kilts to me. That's consistent with what I understand Ann Stewart used to pay someone she jobbed kilts out to (if I am wrong about that, please correct me, but my recollection is that someone a few years ago who made kilts for her shop told me that she was paid $157 per kilt for the labor). And converted to pound sterling, the $150 I would make sewing kilts jobbed out to me would be about 115. More than the 85 mentioned in the original post, but, then again, I'm not a beginning kiltmaker.

    Barb
    Kiltmaker, piper, and geologist (one of the few, the proud, with brains for rocks....
    Member, Scottish Tartans Authority
    Geology stuff (mostly) at http://people.hamilton.edu/btewksbu
    The Art of Kiltmaking at http://theartofkiltmaking.com

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  8. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barb T View Post
    then again, I'm not a beginning kiltmaker.

    How do you mean?
    It's not a beginners rate, it's apparently the general rate. Workers at any level in any job shouldn't be earning less than minimum wage.
    Last edited by redredrose; 14th March 20 at 10:16 PM.

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    Yeh, I see why what I said was confusing. Sorry. All I meant was that the difference between $150/115 and 85 might be the difference between a rate paid to experienced kiltmakers vs beginning kiltmakers. I totally agree that even minimum wage is unfairly low for skilled labor in anything let alone half of minimum wage.
    Kiltmaker, piper, and geologist (one of the few, the proud, with brains for rocks....
    Member, Scottish Tartans Authority
    Geology stuff (mostly) at http://people.hamilton.edu/btewksbu
    The Art of Kiltmaking at http://theartofkiltmaking.com

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  11. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barb T View Post
    How many of you are skilled laborers in a trade? How much do you make an hour? Would you look for another job if you were being paid only $15 an hour? And no benefits of any kind, and taking into consideration none of the other expenses of running a small business?

    Barb
    I work in the ceramics trade, both as an employee at a production facility, and as an artist/craftsman in my own studio. I have a BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts) degree in artistic craft with a main concentration (major) in ceramics.
    In my own practice; I create sculptures, wall hangings, mugs, dinnerware, and other utilitarian objects. After costs of firing kilns, materials, studio space, and occasional festival/market fees, It's hard to make $12-13usd/ hr.
    I have been employed at the same place for almost 8 years at one of the top ceramic facilities in the U.S. (My boss is like the Howie Nicholsby of ceramics/clay industry.) I work in every department except the business office, and I am the only one that designs and makes our glazes, (some of my recipes have become industry standards). I was hired at $10 USD/hr. with no benefits. Around a dollar a year raise. About 3 years ago we started to get up to 40 hrs a year paid sick time off. And just this year they started to offer insurance........skilled labor...........but........
    I LOVE what I do.

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    I completely agree with your last statement. Although I focused on pay in my original post, the main reason I only make kilts directly for customers is that I truly love making kilts for someone I've actually "met", even if it's only through email and phone calls, and who wants me, specifically, to make a kilt. If I didn't have that, and I would have to make kilts for a vendor at $8 an hour, it wouldn't be worth it to me.

    So, actually, that's one of the reasons why I wrote The Art of Kiltmaking. If people are paid so poorly for making a kilt, what's the incentive for becoming a full-time kiltmaker? Or for not cutting corners in order to push more kilts out the door in less time? I was genuinely concerned that not enough people were learning how to make a kilt by traditional methods and that, eventually, few people would know how.

    I wrote the book as a "how-to" so that anyone who had an interest, time, patience, and a length of tartan could actually make a kilt by traditional methods. I figured that it would not only preserve the knowledge of methods but also spread that knowledge among far more people than those who learn traditional kiltmaking from the few training courses and apprenticeships that exist. To date, I've sold over 10,000 copies of the book. Some people just read the book because they're curious; some make only one or two kilts for themselves or people they know; some have been bitten by the bug and have made many kilts for themselves or others. The book is still in print, and people are still buying it 20 years after I wrote it.
    Last edited by Barb T; 19th February 20 at 07:02 AM.
    Kiltmaker, piper, and geologist (one of the few, the proud, with brains for rocks....
    Member, Scottish Tartans Authority
    Geology stuff (mostly) at http://people.hamilton.edu/btewksbu
    The Art of Kiltmaking at http://theartofkiltmaking.com

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    Barb T: thanks.

    Just a quick note to say thank you to Barb T for your book and your dedication.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barb T View Post
    I completely agree with your last statement. Although I focused on pay in my original post, the main reason I only make kilts directly for customers is that I truly love making kilts for someone I've actually "met", even if it's only through email and phone calls, and who wants me, specifically, to make a kilt. If I didn't have that, and I would have to make kilts for a vendor at $8 an hour, it wouldn't be worth it to me.
    Barb,

    Thanks so much for this labor of love. As someone who owns one of your kilts, has inherited another of your kilts, and has two in the works, it is really an honor. It's a point of pride when folks admire my kilt that you made and opine that it must be "machine-made" and sewn "inside-out" because the stitches are invisible. That's when I share with them, "No, hand-stitched, just made by the absolute best kilt maker in America."

    Also, I have your book at home and find that it is indispensable when it comes to understanding kilt construction. That's important for all of us who love kilts, even for those of us who aren't willing to sacrifice the time to make our own kilts.

    I'm thankful and grateful for you, and for your presence here at Xmarks.

    David

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