Whipmakers Poppin’ Up Everywhere!

The other day I was talking with another whipmaker & it was mentioned how there are so many people out there who are making nylon whips now. Some may find this a good thing, some may think it cuts into other already established whipmakers’ business. In fact, friends of mine ask me, "Aren’t you afraid these guys (or girls) will steal some of your business?" My first reaction is, "No," and though I tend to have mixed feelings on the matter, for the most part, I don’t think it’s such a bad thing. I’ll give you some reasons for my thinking:

  • Many whipcrackers when first starting out will buy more than one whip in the first year. Once they’ve bought one from a more inexperienced whipmaker, a common inclination is to purchase one from a more seasoned whipmaker.
  • A few of the whips I’ve seen for sale on Ebay are by people who’ve bought my Make A Real Nylon Whip whipmaking kit. This is a compliment to me, whether or not they use every method I mention in the instructional CD. When people learn that you’ve helped to teach someone to make whips, one who they’ve bought a whip from, it helps add to your credibility some.
  • Whenever I see a whip from a new plaiter, it makes me want to make my work better. It urges me to strive to produce a better product. There’s always room for improvement, for everyone, and with every new whipmaker that pops up, it simply reminds me to keep improving.
  • With the increase in nylon whips on the market, it reveals just how in demand nylon whips really are. A whipmaker told me recently that he thought it was ironic how several leather plaiters over the last several years have incorporated nylon whips into their whipmaking business. Victor Tella, Tony Layzell, Lauren Wickline, to name just a few. There are others I won’t mention just now.
  • With the increase in nylon whips, I feel the prices in leather whips may come down, even if it’s just a little bit.

Now I feel the need to get something off my chest. I’m not indignant by any means concerning this. But I don’t see or hear too many people saying what I’m about to say. First off, I’m not a master whipmaker, this I know. I feel I build decent nylon whips, whips that perform well & hopefully look good to others. Anyone who wants to criticize my work is free to do so, but that’s not what I’m about to do. My friend & fellow whipmaker, Tony Layzell of Essentia Whips, has broken down the comparison between the prices of UK whipmakers & American whipmakers. I won’t go into the details here, as it’s an in depth comparison. The basic point which he makes is that American whipmakers, on average, charge more than those of the UK & other parts of the world, with less expenses to pay for kangaroo hides here in the US.

Kangaroo hide prices have gone up some recently, this is true. Some plaiters are charging $80 per foot & up for a roo hide whip. I honestly feel these prices are getting to be a bit much. This is a reason why more & more people are buying nylon whips. Yes, the materials are more money for roo whips, and yes, there are some really talented plaiters who are building whips here in the US. I simply feel that many American whipmakers charge too much for their products.

A line I’ve heard before, (and I’m not singling any one person out) is this:  "I don’t make whips for the money, but the sheer joy & passion." With the cost of roo hide whips rising, that statement grows older & weaker as an aging man. Come on, of course we make whips for the money, and that’s why we charge money to make them. No one pays for food with "joy & passion." I understand the enjoyment one gets from whipmaking. But it would be fairer & more accurate to say that some have chosen to make whips for less money than doing another job because they enjoy making whips. Every job we do is for money…money to pay for food, bills, mortgages & everything we acquire in life. It’s not the sole reason, but for most people, it’s the main reason.

I’m not trying to cause trouble, but simply point out trouble that’s already there. I believe some charge more than they should simply because they can. Am I saying their work isn’t worth it? Not at all! I am saying that one’s prices should reflect the economy in which they’re living. Just because someone can charge more than another, doesn’t mean they should. I’m sure I’ll hear some arguments from this, and that’s fine. There’s no one person I have a beef with. Most of the leather & nylon plaiters I’ve had the pleasure to speak with, either on the phone or by email, are classy & good people. We all have our differences, and it doesn’t make us better or worse than anyone else. This is just another message of what I’ve thought of lately. Hope you’ve enjoyed it.

~Steve,

www.neawhips.com

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3 Responses to Whipmakers Poppin’ Up Everywhere!

  1. Mel says:

    I\’m sure I wasn\’t as subtle as that Steve :o)If I remember rightly I might of mentioned over rated and over priced but if I didn\’t it was an oversight on my part and I should of….Tony

  2. Blessed says:

    Pardon my interjection, sirs.I am new to the craft, but as a maillesmith I know exactly what you\’re talking about. I can\’t go to the Rennaissance Festival because of this. I can\’t go because I see people peddling aluminum maille shirts made with rings large enough to stick my finger through, and for double what I\’d charge for a proper material.I\’ve never once had any of my products come back to me from defective construction. That\’s because I don\’t think anyone should ever have to be careful with their armour. If it breaks, it was either made wrong, or handled wrong. Now that may not be the case with something as intricate and delicate as a whip, but the argument still stands.I don\’t think anyone should charge $100 for an hour\’s work on a bracelet. This is the craftsman\’s lament.

  3. steven says:

    Hey Blessed Wrath, thanks for the comment! I understand what you\’re referring to. It\’s frustrating when you see products of low-quality sell for more than they should. Some ppl are out just to make a buck. Hopefully, in the end, the higher-quality & better craftsmen will rise to the top. ~Steve. Tony….come on now, you not subtle? You eloquent speaker of truth.

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