Hello Sono fam!
This pricing update is a very honest and heartfelt one, so if you are reading this - thank you for holding space for us and being here. From the day we started Sono (with little to no previous business experience) we centered affordability and accessibility as our main values, as we believe herbal medicine should never be price gouged and be kept accessible to as many people as possible.
Because of this we priced our most popular product - Sono Smokes, much lower than what we believe is their actual cost: which includes premium quality organic ingredients, eco-friendly biodegradable papers, packaging made from post-consumer recycled materials and of course our valuable time that goes into hand-crafting every herbal preroll and shipping it to you, paying marketing costs, having in depth and personal conversations with every customer, etc. On top of this we put many hours a week working for free to make content for our Instagram page and other social media.
From the very start of our business we have been honest that this is our first successful venture, and we are beyond dedicated to it. We work on average 50-60 hours a week. That being said, according to our recent calculation we only make $10.15 or less an hour. This is below the minimum wage in the Chicago, which is $14 an hour, and probably less than a lot of our customers wages. We do not earn any profit beyond paying ourselves for our time, and had to take out many emergency expenses, such as purchasing new equipment, directly out of our savings, taking a huge personal financial impact. Any of our savings are reinvested directly into Sono, new projects and products to serve our community, leaving us with no financial safety net.
Raising our prices again is something we absolutely despise and it causes us great stress - we want our lovely supporters and anyone checking out Sono Herbs to be able to get the goods we want for the lowest prices possible. But after we had to replace our printer for $500 yesterday, which was a large part of our savings, we realized we can’t build a business that effectively serves our community on scarcity. We refuse to sacrifice our product quality or sustainable practices in order to make more profit, therefore we will be raising the price of all our smoke packs by $1.
We hope that this is the last time we will have to raise our prices, as we still want as many people as possible to be able to afford Sono, and don’t want to create any exclusivity around our product - herbalism is for everyone, everywhere. We want to stay comparable to other products on the market, and even with this price increase, we are still one of the most affordable holistic herbal smoking alternatives (that care a whole lot about our product quality)!
We will also be adding a handling fee of 12.5% to accurately reflect the payment processing fees we pay now (we had to switch to a different, specialized payment processor to accept future CBD payments) plus the cost it took us to upgrade to completely eco friendly shipping supplies. We will now be using 32% post consumer recycled bubble mailers (which are also reusable and recyclable!) as well as cardboard boxes for shipping, to decrease our single use plastic waste!
Please remember that our products are still priced very low, considering the exceptional standards of our business - currently everything is priced about 20% lower than what we believe the product’s true value to be. In a way everyone who shops at Sono is already getting a coupon, so if you can afford to pay our full price you should totally go for it, as we reinvest any money we get directly into the business and our communities. If not - sign up for our newsletter! You get a discount for your first order, and then we will keep you updated on all the latest Sono sales!
We will still be offering sliding scale pricing to BIPOC, trans, immigrant and disabled people: communities that have been historically marginalized by capitalism, with many systematic inequalities that prevent those groups from acquiring wealth still in place. We will be working on developing an easier to navigate, automatic form for sliding scale in the next few weeks, meanwhile shoot us an email at email@example.com with subject “Sliding Scale” and mention the percent off you would need to make your purchase affordable in the body of the email. No need to prove your financial need or explain why - we trust our community and are looking forward to having you try our handmade herbal goods!
If you have read this far, thank you very much for caring and supporting us! We hope this update makes our pricing transparent, as that is one of our main goals as a business. As always, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or concerns.
Update 12/19/2020: we have raised our prices by $1 on all our smoke packs to reflect the price changes in our supplies, specifically the eco friendly papers our prerolls come in. We have been trying to absorb this cost for weeks, but as our items are already priced as low as possible we aren’t making enough profit to keep developing our business. Thank you for understanding and remember when you are buying sono you are buying queer-owned, hand-made, organic, eco-friendly goods that are carefully packaged with love!
You may have noticed the pricing on some of our items has changed. We have increased the cost of the single flavor 10 packs of pre-rolls from 12.95 to 13.95 and the XL pack from 14.95 to 16.95. We are implementing these changes in order to stick to our mission of keeping our items “ethically priced” and pay the people who produce the prerolls (Ray and August as well as any part time help we bring on to the shop!) an ethical wage. Fast fashion, huge commercial brands and the Amazon mindset has changed how people perceive pricing of products, so please don’t set items produced on mass scale by multimillion corporations as a benchmark.
Here is what the process for our prerolls looks like:
- Mix all the organic, fair trade sourced herbs by hand to create our signature smoke blends.
- Fill the highest quality cigarette papers (with biodegradable filters) on the market by hand with our blends.
- Compress the cigarette down and twist the ends by hand.
- Print and cut out the stickers for the filter tips by hand.
- Wrap the sono colored sticker around the filters by hand.
- Print and cut the info sheet for the blend, yet again by hand.
- Print and cut the info card about us, by hand.
- Pack your box in with love and care, by hand.
- Go to the post office and drop off the packages!
And this list doesn’t include designing literally every single aspect of this brand, doing all the product photography, setting up the listings, sending newsletters, posting on our social media, and replying to all your emails! As you could imagine that takes a lotttt of time, but it makes your packages oh so special! There is literally hours of work, careful craftsmanship and love put in your order.
Since starting Sono, we were always focused on our mission of bringing people incredible, powerful holistic plant magic at an affordable price. We never could have guessed how much support we would get in only a few weeks, which leads to a lot of work in our little studio. We haven’t anticipated all the hidden costs with running a business - our cute packaging materials, transportation costs to the post office, electricity bills, design software, marketing costs, etc. All of that adds up and despite working for 12+ hours daily we are barely breaking even. A $1 increase on the product price may not mean much for the buyer but it will ensure both of us are getting paid a fair wage for our labor, while continuing to source all the best, high-quality ingredients for our products.
We will always do our best to keep our prices affordable, as we believe holistic healing should be available to all. We want to center delivering plant medicine to people who can benefit from them, and therefore offer sliding scale pricing to any trans, POC, immigrant or disabled people that need it. Simply email us with the title of “sliding scale” and request a coupon based on how much you feel like you can pay - no need to provide proof of finances or financial need, this is up to you. Feel free to ask for 10%, 30%, 50%, 70% off (or name which products you would like and the total amount you can pay - whatever that is) - we want to empower people that have been historically oppressed and our shop is for you, no matter your income.
This slight raise in price will allow us to keep our shop running while we continue hosting great sales and discounts on the regular basis - follow us on instagram @sonoherbs to keep an eye out for the latest deals! With Black Friday and the winter holiday season coming up we have many sales to come!