Today a little company you probably know by now announced they were raising a targeted $100 Million with an IPO. If you haven’t heard of Etsy this original post from Arlene Lott from CBC in Canada back in 2009 sums it up nicely. Times have changed and so has Etsy.
Do You Etsy?
By: Arlene Lott – CBC Canada
For as long as I can remember, I have been a lover of things handmade. I appreciate the time, thought and effort gone into everything I handle. I suppose this was a trait impressed upon me by my parents who grew up during the 40’s – Look for quality and creativity. It makes me the detail-oriented person I am today. That being said, I’d like to introduce you to my guilty pleasure.
It’s Etsy. She’s my late night adulterous mistress. She’s my eyecandy. My retail fix. You get the picture.
By its own definition, Etsy.com is an online marketplace for artisans to sell their handmade items. Its mission is to enable people to make a living making things and to reconnect makers with buyers. For me, it’s a place for me to connect with a creative community.
You can find just about anything on Etsy: greeting cards; jewellery; art; clothing; housewares; pottery; more, more, more; even supplies for those of you who love to be crafty. And there are clever ways to search for items, too. You can do it the old-fashioned way and search by category. Or, for those of you who have a sense of your colour palette, you can browse by colour. You can shop locally – a real concern for those who want to reduce their carbon footprint. You can “pounce” on objects by artists yet to be discovered. You can even have things custom made by an artist. Need a quilt in a specific size for your guest room? Put out a request to have it made.
I love the spirit of Etsy. It’s not an auction, so you don’t have to wait to find out if you “won”. There’s no animosity towards random users in that regard. It’s just shopping for the sake of finding something pretty or useful, or pretty and useful, for that matter. It’s so nice to see that crafters have pulled themselves out of the basements of Church Bazaars, and have set their wares up for sale in a modern and creative forum. Oh sure, there’s the odd crocheted toilet paper roll cover, but they’re certainly in the minority.
Some of the treasures found by our own staff include: a plexiglass bunny silhouette ring; some felt birch tree screened pillows; a cream vinyl wall decal in the shape of a moose; even a wonderful men’s leather utility belt. All of these items have brought joy to their buyer and have put some money in the hands of working artists. A win win situation as far as I’m concerned.
Go take a look if you have a chance – and let me know if you find something you love. However, be warned. It’s addictive, people. My apologies to your family, because you’ll be seeing a lot less of them for the next few days.
How Etsy Has Changed
Etsy is an enormous market filled with amazing finds. It’s almost a treasure hunt of goods to some extent. In the early days of Etsy it provided an incredible way for up and coming artists and small artisans to have their products found. I remember when my wife was shopping for a Halloween costume for our daughter Lennon. She was 3 at the time and we only had one child at that point. This meant, among other things, that my wife was far too consumed in the selection of her costume.
Regular Party City costumes or things of that nature weren’t going to cut it. She trolled Etsy and found the perfect Rapunzel outfit for our daughter. At the time there weren’t many options. She could choose from half a dozen dresses and one maker of Rapunzel hair. It was a small quaint shopping experience where you could find some great stuff.
When my wife actually was ready to purchase the items though, they were gone. She frantically emailed the seller. Little did my wife know, she wasn’t the only one looking for Rapunzel hair. It was an all-out show down and people were clamoring for these things. The lady told my wife she was absolutely swamped. She couldn’t keep up with orders and she had to stop taking more. She didn’t think she was going to make it for Halloween. It all worked out and our daughter looooved the costume, for five minutes.
Times have changed and Etsy has evolved to. A simple search today for Rapunzel hair returns 1500 results and poor Rapunzel is already old news. I can only imagine what Elsa and Anna are doing on Etsy. There are paid ad spots in the results and many of the sellers are larger companies rather than artists. As with anything it evolves. Etsy has evolved and their business has had to evolve with it.
Etsy as an Ecommerce Option
As Etsy has changed, so have the sellers. Whether they liked it or not, they had to adapt. Eat or be eaten they say. There are many people who continue to make incredible money on Etsy. Competition is stiffer, fees have increased, and margins are smaller. All that aside, traffic has skyrocketed to the site. There are ways to make money on Etsy.
Unfortunately there is a problem with Etsy and some of the other marketplaces. You don’t control your own destiny. You are selling on their site. It’s their rules and they can change them at any time. You may have a great business today, only to be smothered by other Rapunzel hair sellers tomorrow. Etsy may decide with a customer complaint that they are revoking your access. It’s their prerogative.
Building your own Ecommerce site puts you in control of your own destiny. Its a tough challenge building up the momentum from the get go but it’s yours. You don’t have to worry about their rules and policies. You control what and how you want to sell. So Etsy may be a great outlet for your goods and products but you shouldn’t put all your eggs in one basket.
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