Little did I know that the person I was really hurting was myself.
I had purchased personal cards online from from time to time since I was in college, and I felt that they were fine enough. What's more, they were dirt cheap. When I couldn't afford to make better choices, the online printer did provide an option that any reasonable organization wouldn't be able to maintain cost-wise.
But when I launched Marina Martinez Consulting and had one of my first paying business card clients, I went back to the same online printer with real work, which was a massive mistake. They printed the cards, which relied on a straight line design, crooked. Not once, but twice.
The first time they printed the cards crooked, I simplified the design, hoping that would improve the situation. It did not. The second time they printed the cards crooked, I changed the design again, eliminating any trace of detail that would cause the eye to identify a crooked print. The third version did come out fine, but it took a month from the first order to cards in hand.
Not wanting to repeat that experience ever again, I called my trusty union printer for my next card job, expecting the price to be significantly higher than the online shop. It was not. It was a difference of $10. As a business owner, I understand all to well how "just $10" can add up over time, but quality printing from a union shop is worth it to me.
I charge my clients a living wage, I also charge because my years of work and knowledge of the industry mean that I can avoid common issues and navigate tough times with the grace of experience. When you purchase non-union goods, you're buying from amateurs. I learned my lesson in this instance, and I pass the benefits of my knowledge on to my clients.