This post comes about as a result of a trip to Whole Foods yesterday and my subsequent midnight gasp as I realized what I paid for a box of crackers.   It was a trip of convenience really.  I was in the Whole Foods neighborhood and I needed a few things for a relaxing dinner with my husband.  That afternoon I was to host 12 lovely high-school juniors as they prepared themselves for prom and preened for photos with their parents (they were so lovely!) and I was running short on time.  The stop would be a bit indulgent as I know Whole Foods is spendy; but my husband and I have been busy and working hard, so I thought I’d treat us.

But $85?  The figure didn’t hit me until late into the night as I was reviewing the full day.  Could the checker have made a mistake?  Sure, I purchased a pound and a half of organic grass-fed beef for Sunday night burgers, but I knew what that would cost; a jug of fresh squeezed lemonade to go with vodka (12 girls and their finery and fluffery earlier in the day, remember?), but no, that was not out of line; the price tag for two tins of pre-made lasagna was definitely indulgent. There. On the sticky receipt I retrieved from the trash in the wee, dark hours was the cost for two boxes of crackers I impulsively selected to serve the pretty prepping prom girls. $8 per box. Two boxes. $16 for crackers.  What was I thinking?  How could a box of crackers possibly cost so much?

Then it hit me again: this must be how my clients feel when I share with them the cost of throw pillows, the exact-color-needed- throw pillows made with artful and fine fabric and that are really necessary to pull together their room’s look.  The throw pillows stuffed with feather inserts which support the back just so and which always fluff to perfection.  Crackers, throw pillows.  I really must detail for my readers why custom throw pillows cost so much.  Note the word custom.  I’m not talking about mass produced throw pillows that can be purchased at Pier 1 or Target (think Saltines, yummy, but still Saltines.) I’m talking about carefully selected, edited and crafted pillows to finish off a space (think Whole Foods specialty crackers.)

Here’s The Math.   Let’s create a 20″x20″ square pillow, finished off with tassel fringe around the edges and fluffed with feather inserts:

  • Fabric Yardage: 1 yd @ $80/yard = $80
  • Fringe Yardage:  2.5 yds @ 20/yard = $50
  • Workroom Labor to Fabricate:  $65
  • Feather Insert: $30
  • Shipping Costs for Fabric and Fringe:  $10

Total Cost:  $235

photo courtesy of Tobi Fairly Design

There you go.  And this pillow is relatively inexpensive as far as custom pillows go.  I’m working with clients now on a newly remodeled home filled with thoughtfully selected, expensive, contemporary furnishings and artwork and we’ve selected the most beautiful hand-blocked fabric for pillows. Hours of searching for the right colors, fibers and weaves and we landed on a perfect fabric from Lee Jofa/Groundworks.  The cost per yard is $236.  Plug that into the math above and that 20×20 throw pillow approaches $400.

photo courtesy of Lee Jofa

Fine fabrics are like fine artwork, fine wine and yes, fine crackers.  They are crafted by skilled artists and often with expensive fibers like linen, mohair and fine cottons.  These lovely works of art are almost always produced in limited quantities with few economies of scale to yield a low price. Then there is the skill of those in my workrooms who measure, cut, and sew and always get the seams, zipper enclosures and self-welts to haute-couture perfection.

Now you know. Fine throw pillows, fine art, fine wine and yes, fine crackers.