No Apologies

So the #FairFiberWage train chugs along. By and large I think it’s generating some valuable discussions and I am glad it’s happening.
I was waiting for the “who do you think you are, you deserve nothing, quit whining, not everyone gets to do what they love to do” charges to begin because that seems to happen any time a group of artists complains about their treatment, and while there’s been a little of that, it hasn’t been too bad. Someone on Facebook essentially called us a bunch of no-name diva teachers who didn’t have a leg to stand on but I think Diva Teacher might become a thing now and I am ok with that. I am pondering T-shirts, maybe with sparkles!

But apparently I have one more thing to say. I’m reading posts from teachers that say “I am not ok with sharing a room because bad things happened when I did”, or “I have a medical condition or other life issue that makes it harder for me to recover from a long event” or “I’m sorry I am expensive but here’s a breakdown of how many hours I work and how much money I spend on prep to justify my rates”. All of these things are true. And all of these things are relevant to the discussion.

But at the end of the day none of them matter. I need a safe place to sleep whether or not something bad happened to someone else. I deserve to be paid fairly, because I deserve to be paid fairly, regardless of what my medical or life situation is. I am sorry not everyone can afford to pay large convention prices – hell I can’t either – which makes my classes out of reach for some students but empathy doesn’t change that fact that if I am hired for an event I expect to profit from it.

Not break even, not make a little over expenses. Profit. Because that’s how business works, and I am running a business.

There is risk when I develop and put out a design, or a video, or a book, and I accept managed risk because if I accept all of the risk then I also get to accept all of the rewards. But if Company A hires me to do X at Z time and location, then we are by God going to negotiate a fair payment for me to do X, or I am not going to do X. That does not make me a diva or full of myself or any other negative thing you want to call me, it makes me a business person. That also does not obligate Company A to hire me – they are entitled to go hire anyone they want who will accept the terms to fill that job.

What I am absolutely tired of is this:

Company A (or B or Q or Y): We would like to pay you this much money to do this much work.

Me: That is below my rate, can you come up to this much?

Company A: No we can’t.

Me: Thanks for considering me, unfortunately we won’t be able to work together at this time.

Company A: Well so and so will do it for our terms!

Me: Great! Hire so and so! Everyone wins!

Company A: Well so and so doesn’t offer the advanced classes like you do (or have the experience you have, or have the name recognition in this market that you do, or work in that technique or write a good pattern or whatever), and we need someone who does what YOU do. So you should do what you do for what we want to pay.

Me: Already said no thanks – I wish you well in your search.


Me: Sigh…

Listen, stuff doesn’t work out all the time. I can’t afford to work here or there, they hire someone else. I really, really want a specific job but I don’t get it for whatever reason. Disappointments abound.

But I am tired of apologizing for running a business. And I wish we, as artists and teachers, didn’t feel the constant need to justify our existence. So from me and my friend JoJo, here’s a little music video-

(Obviously NSFW – read the title before clicking!)

F*ck Apologies by JoJo feat. Wiz Khalifa

4 thoughts on “No Apologies”

  1. Reading this was an absolute “breath of fresh air.” If someone can’t afford Vera Bradley, then choose a store brand. Don’t take the bag to the sales staff and argue. We have long been too cost conscious – I am glad that you are honoring your value. We all need to.
    Yarningly Yours,
    Karen Glasgow Follett

  2. Well said. So many businesses in this industry think negotiating = berating or guilt tripping someone until they agree. Nope.

  3. My favourite sentence in the whole post “But I am tired of apologizing for running a business.” That. That right there says it. If you turn down a job as, say, an accountant, because the wage is too low, no one says a thing!
    I did a short post on FB to say “If you took a class from me, then the venue treated me right” adding in that I won’t work for the crappy outfits. I figure some people won’t make that mental leap….”She won’t work for crap, so if she worked there they treat people right”. I wouldn’t like the good places to get tarred with the same brush.
    But this whole discussion is great, and it all needs to be said! And it is like a breath of fresh air to know I am not the only one!

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