I really hate to use my blog as a forum because I want to stay positive. However, Etsy has just announced that it is changing it's policies. They will allow shops that come up with an idea, but have others make it...no limit to how many others, maybe thousands (Ikea?) and multiple shipping locations to do business on Etsy. I feel that little handmade item makers, like myself will be lost in the big business crowd.
I'd love to know if people truly value "real handmade" as much as I hope they do. I know they they are willing to invest in my best pincushions. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to indulge in lavish items. Its nice to spend real time to make really beautiful things. If it was about me churning out lots of easy stuff, I would never feel as good as I do about my Etsy shop.
It may take 50 hours to create an embroidered pincushion. That's about 10 cents an hour for me in wages. I do this out of love not money. I think Etsy forgets that most of its original makers feel this way. We want to make and share beautiful things. If it weren't for my Etsy shop, I couldn't buy so many lovely materials. I would have piles of creations in my closet. I would not meet so many wonderful customers, who often become so instrumental in the success of my shop and the happiness I feel.
Here is how I built my shop, which in Etsy terms is probably average. I am an entrepreneur at heart. I love to share my creativity. I originally had about 10 fat quarters of material and about 15 colors of embroidery floss. As I sold items, (it took me 3 months to get my first sale), I was able to invest in more materials. The more I sold, the more I was able to grow my visibility on Etsy. It costs money to do that. The more money you have, the more views you can buy. Well, eventually I had piles of fabric and lots of floss and perle cotton. Its taken me over 4 years to get to the point where I have more than one sale a week. For the first 2 years I had one sale a month! I now am blessed with a shop that does well. Summers are lean and scary but the holidays are wonderful and very busy. I cannot support myself with this income, but it feeds my creative spirit. Of course, I'd love to do better.
I could never "Quit my Day Job" as they advertise. But I do make enough to buy groceries, put gas in my car, build my shop and occasionally treat my husband to a dinner out here and there. Sellers like myself built Etsy into a billion dollar business. They are doing quite well. They make many hundreds and millions of dollars from the fees and advertising shop owners pay.
If I was a big business, I could literally over shadow a new shop so they never have a chance. Most businesses grows by its capitol and man power. Ebay, Amazon and many other venues support those big businesses. If I had a factory, I would should sell on Ebay. That is where businesses do business.
Etsy was built on the idea of the little maker handmaking beautiful things. Its about empowering any one and every one to support their families and contribute to their communities and to the economy. Etsy features many lovely stories about couples working together in their spare room. They show how a poor person can turn recycled items into profit. They do write ups on how artisans dedicate themselves to quality and originality. You won't find any pictures of sweatshops on Etsy. Its about shop owners like me.
It was just announced today that Etsy will allow businesses to build shops on Etsy as long as a person makes the product. Before, if you didn't make your item, you couldn't sell it on Etsy. You just have to know who's making your stuff and take responsibility for it. As long as you don't hire robots on an assembly line, you qualify for a shop on Etsy. You can have your idea manufactured in China, as long as people create it. Thats the bottom line. They will examine your application for a shop for your happy intents, but Etsy has rarely policed shops. There are a lot rip offs on Etsy. But, for the most part, most Etsy shops are wonderfully handmade. For now. I think they are adhering to the word "handmade" without honoring the spirit of the word.
I am feeling a bit worried about the future of my Etsy shop. I'm worried that I will be lost among giants who will overwhelm the Etsy site with big capitol. Etsy will grow by leaps and bounds. Handmade will suffer. Does that matter? That is what I would like to know from you.
What do you think? Would you be upset if you found out that your pincushion was made by a person in a "factory" instead of here, by my hands? Is there still a place in America where true originality and craftsmanship matter? Does a website that empowers individuals still important?
I don't need reassurance. You already are so kind in your comments. I just would love to know how you feel about shops like mine and websites like Etsy.
Thanks for your time!