Interdisciplinary. Community. Advocacy. Humor.
A ceramics friend of mine just opened her Etsy shop the other day and asked me for some feedback, so I told her what little I've learned from being on Etsy for 6+ years. None of which has seemed to help me make any sales.
I have a sort of love/hate relationship with Etsy: I love shopping on Etsy, I love exploring and finding new artists to love in all media, I love how easy they make it for anyone to set up a shop, I love being able to buy supplies I can't find anywhere else. I hate wading through the garbage to find the good stuff, I hate their often ineffective search engine, I hate the rampant re-sellers, copyright infringement, and the "hand assembled" posing as "handmade". In other words, I hate how easy they make it for anyone to set up a shop. Also, I hate how I can't seem to make many sales, while some people do well enough to "quit their day job".
I know there are SNAG members on Etsy, so my proposal is this: In the interest of promoting our members, and in the interest of making Etsy a more comfortable shopping experience, I'd like to showcase one member's Etsy shop a month. If you're a SNAG member with an Etsy shop, or you know a SNAG member with an Etsy shop, post a link in the comments here, and I'll take a look. I'll choose one shop a month to blog about here on Crafthaus. Other platforms similar to Etsy are also acceptable. If you have a favorite, let me know!
I understand that it might not always make the most sense to promote jewelers to other jewelers, so if you have another favorite artist or supplier on Etsy, please share! I'm always interested in what's out there beyond the metals community!
OK! We'll go. We've been on Etsy since 2008.
Boy, have we learned a lot....
Would you share some of what you learned?
Awesome! I'll check it out! Thanks guys!
I haven't tried Etsy, mostly because I can't figure out how to get the attention of the women I know like my jewelry. I know who my customer is, I just don't know WHERE they are. The very good customers I don't have enough in common to peg or target them, to find others like them. I need more customers like the ones I have where I live, in other places.
I know what you mean. I'm still trying to figure out how to the get the attention of ANYONE on Etsy. At least you know who your customer is. I'm still working on that one too. Thanks for your insight!
My Etsy seller experience pre-dates the new rules that seemed to usher in the Ebay-esque resale crap that I find terribly disappointing as a customer and a seller (Snooki of Jersey Shore has a shop - nuff said). Even being a discerning customer who knows what I'm looking for, I find it very difficult now to find the genuinely handmade loveliness that made me fall in love with Etsy several years back. Even the bad craft - knitted tissue box covers, dog hair bows - were at least made. It's so disappointing now, I rarely even bother to go on there unless I'm looking for a specific seller I found out about elsewhere - a friend's Facebook share, Instagram like, a business card from an in-person encounter. It's an easy way for people to have an online shop (much less investment than making your own website with a shop), so in that way it can be helpful to a seller.
As a seller I happened upon my niche accidentally. I had done a show and had leftover inventory - pendants, earrings, rings, and because I had tried to come up with something for men, a few money clips. The money clips started out showcasing some textures I was experimenting with created from photographs I had taken while living abroad. Then, on some whim, I made one with a map of Cleveland. People went nuts over it. So I started doing more maps on money clips - NYC, Boston, DC, Paris, etc. Then I started getting requests for custom orders, so I amped up the ease of custom ordering and gave people ideas for what they could order. I offered monograms as well. I highlighted them as groom's gifts. I got a wholesale order with a men's boutique in CA. Mind you, I was in grad school at the time so I didn't have all the time in the world to dedicate to this, so as it gained popularity, I continued to raise the price to lower the number I had to make. People just kept ordering them. My second year doing it I had $10k in sales just on the money clips, which were also inexpensive in materials and quick to make. When I did a search for money clips on Etsy, nobody else was making anything even close to it, so it made sense that I was successful. The whole time I sold maybe two pairs of earrings. None of my jewelry sold. So, it's really about finding that magic item. But, like I said, this was before the new rules took hold.
Unfortunately when I left grad school I lost access to the big equipment that made them quick to make (bending brake, jump sheer, belt sander), so I no longer make them. I also hated making them, so I wasn't that upset about it!
I think that is probably the story for a lot of people. I never tried Etsy, because I could never figure out how to make my customer aware I was there. I know my jewelry has appeal for a very select few, I know my customer, I just don't know where they are, because other than my jewelry, they don't necessarily have a lot more in common.
Thanks for your input Jessica, it was really interesting.
I have this love/hate relationship with Etsy, for all the reasons you stated. Part of my motivation for this series is to showcase the talent that can still be found on Etsy if one has time to do the digging, and to promote any SNAG members still on Etsy. Again, I realize the redundancy of promoting jewelry to other jewelers, so I'm also interested in tool and material suppliers. I stumbled across a shop that makes really affordable, vegan sand bags for forming.
My hope is to use this format to make Etsy more pleasurable to navigate, and hopefully generate some conversation on how to become a more successful seller, which already seems to be happening.
I would definitely love to see a SNAG/Crafthaus curated list of sellers! I would rather take the time to look up individual sellers than scroll through pages of resale junk! A lot of my Etsy shopping has been for gifts, so that's kind of the focus here. I wouldn't say my list has my artistic idols, but some tried-and-true heart-of-Etsy sellers.
-BeehiveHandmadeLLC: I've seen these guys in a lot of boutiques and galleries around the country. They're my go-to for baby and wedding gifts.
-BillieBeads: A millefiore polymer clay bead maker based in Coney Island. Came to know her work through her father, Bob Tannen, who was a resident artist where I work (Rauschenberg Residency). 100% handmade.
-zoozjewelry: Adorable teeny tiny hand-carved wax cast jewelry.
-LiliDiPrima: Quirky custom portraits. Another great place for wedding gifts.
-whimsyloveswit: Crocheted plush toys. Good for baby/young kids gifts.
-ScatterbrainTies: Cool screenprinted ties. Great gift for men.
-pookaqueen: Gorgeous, unique hats
-debrascrafts: Love this throwback Etsy seller. Brings me back to the old days - hand sewn doll clothes by a very sweet woman, with prices way too low for the work involved. Got doll clothes for my niece there.
I typically buy jewelry in person at galleries or at shows, or direct from artists I know, and most are SNAG members so I won't take it upon myself to list those (also many of them have closed their Etsy shops). Not sure if that's what you're looking for, but those are some I've enjoyed over the years!
Etsy has changed over the years. Considerably! What started out as a showcase selling platform for handmade craft has evolved into a reseller's outlet for craft related supplies. Sure, lots of craft and crafty items are offered on Etsy, but supplies are what sells by an overwhelming margin. Since going public, Etsy is still trying to find its place in the world.
Since going public, Etsy is still trying to find its place in the world. Like any public company with shareholders, Etsy is chasing the money. Clearly, emphatically, the money is not in handmade craft. I know. Shocker to many of you who make a "living" at craft.
All of this does not mean that Etsy has no purpose or value to makers. It simply means the purpose and value have shifted. As with all businesses, things change. It's up to us to change to meet the circumstances of our environment.
I know a lot of people, self included, who used to regularly buy handmade items on Etsy. The changes have pushed those people away. I'm sure Etsy the company makes more money now, but the makers are the ones who got the shaft.