Price vs Quality

In my previous article "India a price sensitive market" I shared my thoughts about how consumers are sensitive to the price of an item but not to its quality. This article is again sharing my thoughts about how high price indicates high quality and vice versa.
Buyers of craft supplies in India beware of companies that sell products that are sourced from China. Note here that I emphasize on the word "Source" and not "Made" in China. These products are cheap but are not meant to last longer. Do not get attracted by their low price. These products do help you in acquiring more customers but your reputation might be at stake when these customers notice their papers turning yellow or their items deteriorating with time.

Here's an interesting blurb from an article "Why Made in China Doesn't Mean Quality"
You see, we bicker about price so much [moreso than value and reliability] that we’re really shooting ourselves in the foot.  How? As we’re pushing retailers for lower prices, we’re buying tons of cheap crap made overseas, and this reinforces the retailers to seek lower costs by having these goods made there and not in the USA.
Stuff that’s made in China or (Fabrique en Chine) as I also see, means buying something that’s cheap (yes), but we’re also buying stuff that’s CHEAP, which alternateively means it’s not a high-quality item.
These products are made cheaply with inferior materials, and put together with cheap labor  - and at the same time we’re expecting quality? WOAH WOAH WOAH! We can’t have both!
Would you still like to buy cheap products?? Look out for products that are sourced from US/UK companies that have their manufacturing units in China. These products will be priced somewhere in between the ones exclusively made in US/UK and the ones exclusively sourced from China.

India a price sensitive market

Today after having a long conversation with my customer turned friend, I thought of writing about India being a price sensitive market and how it affects artists especially from the paper crafting world.

Since 2006 when I got my first paying customer and till date, I have observed one thing - people are not sensitive to the quality of an item as much they are to its price. This clearly explains why Apple has such a tiny market share in India. It also explains why all those who aim to be as unique as "Apple" by providing quality and not quantity suffer in leading the Indian market.

Customers demand high quality low priced products. Most of us know that we can't provide that. Yet, we do compromise to achieve business at any cost. I am sure a lot of paper crafters must have got succumbed to this and either sourced cheap products or compromised their profit margins. Those who compromised on their margins must question themselves - why are you in business? If the business doesn't generate profit - how can you survive? How can you see growth for your business?  But for those who compromised on quality to provide a reasonably priced product remember that -

Individual artists who sell items at low price and companies who sell low priced craft products source their items from China. Yes, today a lot of products are made in China but does that mean they are  at par with quality? Wait to know more in my next article about "Why made in China doesn't mean quality"

Alas, remember you get what you pay for. So buyers and sellers please think twice before buying a cheap product. Especially when you are buying them with a purpose to last longer!

The Science of Scrapbooking and its Terminology

When we want to buy supplies for paper-crafting we lookout for the terms "acid-free" and "lignin-free" but do we really know what it means and why it matters? Today I wish to share my knowledge of the science behind scrapbooking, which I have acquired from my ongoing research over a period of 10 years.

Acid Free & Lignin Free
Paper is made from wood, which is acidic. Lignin is a chemical within the paper that causes yellowing and deterioration of paper. There are processes which can make the paper ‘acid free’, and that process involves neutralizing or eliminating lignin. Therefore, the two go together. (Read this article which explains what acid free paper really means, and why it’s important.)

Archival Quality” is not equal to acid free is not equal to safe forever
"Archival Quality" is the term used by vendors to imply long lasting or permanent. However it doesn't mean that the product is acid free and it definitely doesn't mean  that it is safe forever! (Read this article to know more on this)
Important terms (Click here for the glossary of paper terminology) -

pH - measures the acidity or alkalinity of a substance.  A pH scale (shown above) runs from 0 to 14 and each number indicates ten fold increase. 7 is pH neutral. Numbers below 7 indicate increasing acidity and numbers above 7 indicate increasing alkalinity.

Acid Free - products are without acid in the manufacturing process but does not mean that they will remain acid free for any length of time. Acid free paper has a pH of 7.0. The higher the number on the pH scale, the less acidic the product.

Lignin Free - Lignin is a natural occurring bonding element in plants that holds the wood fiber together. While lignin is not an acid, it does give off acids as it deteriorates. Therefore if you have a paper that is only acid free, but still contains lignin, it will become acidic over time.

Buffered - a rarely known term amongst most Indian crafters - buffered paper often is an acidic paper that has had an alkaline solution added to neutralize it.  It has a pH higher than 7.0, but only at the time of its production.  In time, acids eat through the buffering and the paper becomes acidic, usually in about 7-10 years.

Colorfast - A color that is resistant to the action of external agents, such as light, acids and alkalies. Paper color that is resistant to change from aging or from exposure to light, heat or other adverse conditions. Color that is non-fading over long exposure to daylight. Lightfast and sun-fast are variations of the term.

Acid and lignin are the enemies of photographs. Over time lignin in untreated paper will break into acids that will harm your photographs. The presence of acid in your scrapbooking materials will accelerate the aging process and cause photos to become brittle and distort the original coloring of your photograph.

Acid is used in many different manufacturing processes including paper, photo albums, scrapbooks, adhesive and plastics. Today nearly all scrapbooking supplies and photo storage devices are created for archival longevity. However, as early as 10 years ago manufacturers were not as savvy as they are now about the dangers of acid and lignin. Check your old photos albums to make sure they are being stored properly.

The aging process can be stopped by simply removing photographs from dangerous storage devices and placing them safely in photo-safe, acid- & lignin-free or archival quality  photo boxes, memory albums or storage cabinets. Do not automatically assume that because an item it purchased in the “scrapbook” section that it is photo-safe. If it does not say “photo safe”, “acid-free” or “archival safe”, assume that it is not.

For safe memory-keeping beware of the following environments that will harm your photos:

Extreme Temperature and Fluctuation
Light and UV Rays
Excessive Handling by Human Hands