The Business of Handmade - Part 1: A Primer To Start Your Business

I have been very fortunate to find my creative journey and do what I love every day. I am truly living my dream. It is always magical but isn't always easy. It is TONS of hard work, even MORE mistakes than you can imagine, and some days I would rather play with a pile of yarn than be a business owner and do paperwork (I really loathe paperwork). And the truth is, by my own standard, I am not really that successful. I have SO MUCH I want to do and eventually land with my very own yarn shop with a classroom in the front for people to learn and share fiber love and an after school yarn program for neighborhood kids. Ah... I have so far to go. But I will get there.

And, while I am by no means a business guru or authority, I love sharing my journey and what I learn because it feeds my own success as much as it helps others. I get a LOT of emails, messages, tweets and posts asking for help on how to start a crochet, knit or creative business or open an Etsy shop. It is incredibly humbling. But... The truth is that this is a very difficult question to answer. There is no easy, "hey do this and you will be a success" formula. Every creative business is different.

You have to determine your own goals and road map. Hopefully, with this series: The Business Of Handmade, I can help you do that. Over this series we will talk about:

A Primer To Start Your Business (this post)
What Kind Of Etsy Shop Is Right For YOU
Do You Want A Business or A Side Hustle
If You Don't Love It Don't Do It

So let's get started!

Like I said above, there is no quick cookie cutter formula that I can give you to say do this and you will be a success. Having said that, here are 5 steps I took that may work for you and help you get your path started.

1. Open an Etsy Shop
Though the bulk of my business has moved off of the platform, joining Etsy was the best decision I ever made. Truly. Etsy gave me a place to get started, test the waters, learn about internet marketing and online sales without the burden of developing a full eCommerce site. It is SO EASY to use and setting up my shop took a matter of hours. When you join Etsy, it is not a magic wand and poof you will have sales. It takes work. You can use this link to get started with an Etsy shop and get 40 free listings!  (disclaimer: if you use this link, I will also get free listings as part of the easy affiliate program)

The next post in this series will dive into WHAT kind of Etsy shop is right for you.  Here are my general Etsy Starter Tips:

Join the Etsy Success Team. This is a team headed up by Etsy Admin for the community to discuss, exchange and explore ways to succeed

Read the Etsy Seller Handbook & Etsy Blogs. They are a wealth of information. Take the info and apply it to your shop. Not everything will apply. Go in baby steps. Do what you can so you are not overwhelmed.

Learn SEO. You do not need to become an SEO behind the scenes wiz. But it would be in your best interest to take time and learn the basics. Etsy has wonderful blogs and teams about SEO and how to make it work for you.

Take great photos. You don't need an expensive camera or to hire a photographer to get started. I still use my iPhone and some great photo apps sometimes. Show all the angles (front, side view, back view, etc.) and remember: Most shoppers are visual. Make your photos appealing.

Give all the information that you can without too much fluff in your item descriptions. That's not really the place to show off your creative writing skills. Give the facts: size, measurements, materials, use or functionality, etc. Check out my photo hacks here.

Use ALL the Etsy features. Etsy offers some really great shop features (About, Profile, online presence links). Use them ALL. Take some time to really think about telling your shop story in the About section but then maybe a little more about you as a person in your profile. Use the links to social media. I cannot say it again, Etsy makes it so easy why not use these areas?

2. Build customer relationships.
Social Media is an amazing overwhelming thing. I get it. But it is essential to grow your business in modern times because it IS your storefront. There are lots of different approaches to social media. You will have to work to find what's best for you and your business. Personally, I have more than one social media account. Some I use specifically for business, some I use to engage with other crocheters and others in the fitness community and other areas of interest.

I also started a blog as a way to take customers behind the scenes in both my design and creation process. It is a fun way to interact and share the backstory. I also offer free patterns and special coupons and articles like this that may be of help to my blog readers. We will be launching an in depth Social Media Series in two weeks.

3. Find your market.
In addition to my Etsy pattern shop, I also sell my patterns and designs on Ravelry and Craftsy. That is where my audience is. So if you know where your target market is, go there and sell to them. And look for new places to find them.
 

4. Build your own online presence.
In addition to my Etsy shop, I have my own stand alone website. This allows me freedom of design, content and inventory variation and control. It took some time to find the right platform. For me, I have a shop with supadupa and one with squarespace. BOTH are fabulous and offer incredible customer support. I have nothing but good things to say about them. I have been with each since they launched. Read Toni of TL Yarn Crafts talk about why this is important here.

5. Try new things.
My biggest tip is that you have to try new things. Some will work. Some will fail in epic proportions. But that is the best way to learn what works for your business. I cannot tell you how many things didn't work. But finding out that something doesn't work is not always bad. It often leads to something brilliant that does work.

Track things you try. Don't just haphazardly throw things at the wall hoping something sticks. Be deliberate and consider what will get you where you want to go. If something doesn't work, take a beat. Look at WHY it didn't work. Maybe it was an ad that just needs some tweaking. Maybe it was an ad that needs art and photos. Maybe it was the wrong demographic. There is ALWAYS something to learn from failure.

Finding those lessons and takeaways is how you will also find success. This is number 5 on the list but probably the single most important tip I can impart to you. Failures and mistakes are ESSENTIAL for success.

So there it is. My five tips to get you and your road map to a successful handmade business off the ground. The one thing I didn't mention (because I assume if you are here you know this) is you have to do the work. You can't be lazy. It takes lots of work and long hours but the joy and fulfillment I have found and continue to find is immeasurable. I work weekends. I work late at night. I work early mornings. I work! But I would not trade a minute of it and could not imagine it any other way.

Arm Candy for Some Yarnies On The Go

Like most creatives, I knit or crochet wherever I go. I can be found at concerts, at events, in the car, on the train, at the park, at the doctor waiting room with yarn & hook (or needles) in hand. The truth is, if I can't bring my yarn, I probably won't go. But this also presents a challenge of carrying around my project without intruding on whatever activity I am enjoying.

While I love my collection of project totes and bags, none of them were just perfect for my on the go activity. Especially places like concerts, walking on the beach or a day in the park. So when I stumbled upon OtterburnPQ on Etsy I have to tell you I was intrigued. And then, I was in love!

A project bag that hangs on my arm? I had so many questions. Will it hold my yarn? Will it be comfortable? Will it be too heavy? Will it be sturdy? Will it interfere with my movement? Well, I just had to get it to try it out. And then I fell in love with it.

I got the medium bag to try, thinking the small would be ideal for my cottons but I am a bulky wool kinda gal. The bag arrived fast - and for handmade items that always impresses me. The quality stood out immediately. It is incredibly sturdy and well made. The fabric is super soft, which is great because I have sensitive skin.

It is lightweight and the wide armhole helps the yarn flow so nicely without me having to tug at it. I use this bag all the time. At the park. On the train. Everywhere I go.  It has quickly become high up on my must have list when I pack as well.

Jésabelle B., the owner & maker of OtterburnPQ is hooking you guys up with 15% off now to Christmas so you can get your very own awesome arm project tote. Just use code STITCH15 at checkout. Go ahead. Treat yo'self or get the perfect gift for the knitter or hooker in your life!
You won't regret it!

 

5 Reasons Your Handmade Business Needs a Website

I think that the topic of whether or not to get your own website comes up a lot in our small business & artisan community. I cannot stress enough how important it is to begin your online branding & presence. But don't just take my word for it. Below, guest blogger Toni of the awesome TL Yarn Crafts shares her perspective:

Close your eyes and imagine this: Your handmade business is moving right along. You’re making sales, packing orders, life is sweet. Then you get a call about the opportunity of a lifetime – a boutique across the county wants to carry your product or a major craft show wants to know more about you. So, where will you send them?

Sales platforms like Etsy and Amazon Handmade are great for making sales and developing customer loyalty to your product. But as we all know, businesses and brands evolve over time, and your needs may extend well past just making the sale. That’s where your stand-alone website comes in. Here are 5 reasons why YOU need your very own site: 

Reason #1 – Define Your Brand. Websites are a blank canvas waiting to tell the world who you are. If you have a clear brand strategy (colors, fonts, logos, images, etc.), going to your website should be like opening the door to your storefront for a customer. Determining the look and feel of your website will be the first step to helping visitors fall in love with you and your product.

Reason #2 – Engage and Direct Your Visitors. Let’s say you put a link to your Etsy site on Instagram. The implied call-to-action is to have them buy something, right? But what if you want them to do something else, like subscribe to your email list or RSVP to an event? Having your own website lets you drop breadcrumbs for your visitors to lead them where you want them to go. You have the power to create buttons and graphics on your site that make your media easily accessible to your customer.

Reason #3 – Make A Good Impression. Unless I’m mistaken, you’re interested in getting more than just retail customers through your virtual doors, right? Building a clean, beautiful website that is easy to navigate is immensely important if you want to attract store owners, sponsors, and the media. It says a lot about you, namely that you have it together and are ready for potential business relationships. Remember that boutique across the country that I mentioned before? A great website versus an Etsy page might be the difference between “absolutely” and “no, thank you”.

Reason #4 – Give Yourself Room To Grow. Since I started by business 3 years ago, I’ve introduced new projects to the TL Yarn Crafts lineup. In addition to finished pieces, I now have a blog, I teach on and offline, I do craft shows, and I sell kits and patterns. It would be pretty tricky to communicate all of that from my Etsy page. Adding new pages and plugins to my website helped keep my message clear while still accommodating my growth. And that is not to say your have to grow beyond just selling your physical product. But a little breathing room doesn’t hurt. You never know what tomorrow brings.

Reason #5 – Keep the Focus on YOU! As an online shopper, the “Other products you might like” section is super helpful. But as a seller, it makes me cringe. Why go through the effort of guiding a customer to your sales page only to have that very same sales page take them somewhere else?? *queue the face-palm* The main reason to have your own website is to keep the focus on YOU and whatever message you decide to deliver. Carve out your corner of the internet and plant your flag!

Once you’ve committed to launching your own website, it’s time to do a bit of research on what resource is the best fit for you. Pattern by Etsy is great for Etsy sellers whose main concentration is sales. Shopify, Big Cartel, and Wix give you a bit more wiggle room, adding in features that feel like a traditional website. But if you want to go big or go home, Wordpress is the way to go. Whatever you choose, a stand-alone website can be a game changer for your handmade business.
 

About Toni:

Toni Lipsey is the Owner and Designer behind TL Yarn Crafts, an Ohio based fiber arts studio for the modern cool girl. Find her collection of crochet accessories, patterns and maker gifts online, and follow her tomfooleries on Instagram.

 

Get Organized: Hooks & Needles

As a new knitter, I've quickly started collecting a variety of knitting needles and supplies. I've been trying my best to keep organized and shop smart so as not to amass a pile of things I won't use for the long run. But I know I needed a better way to store it all than using a vase on my yarn shelf. Especially since I travel so much. The vase won't travel well 😉

Since I have two crochet hook cases that I love from Atelier de Soyun on Etsy,  I decided to go back and see if she could make me a knitting needle case. She had some in her shop but I wanted something that would hold all my gak in one case. I sent Soyun a description of the supplies I had and some of my needles are F-A-T, some others are loooooong and I explained that I wanted to make sure they would all fit into a single case. I was so excited when she said it could easily be done. YES!

Well, I could not be more thrilled with this purchase.

My knitting needle case is perfect!  Yup... She nailed it. Every needle fits, even my F-A-T ones and long ones. She even added pockets for my shorter hat making needle sets as well as pockets for my circular needles. Every needle has its place and that makes my heart happy. I've got my needles all organized and ready for when I need them or when I travel.

While I was browsing her shop I noticed her lovely project bags so I also got myself one for my on the go days.  The project bag is so amazingly well crafted and has inside pockets for organizing my supplies and notions. It's the exact size I needed and holds enough yarn and supplies for projects on the go. I am particularly happy with the drawstring close for when I toss that bag in the backseat (come on, we've all done it then cried when the yarn spilled out). I am now ready for travel!

This is my third case from Soyun and I cannot recommend this shop high enough. How do you stay organized with your hooks, needles & notions? Share in the comments below.

POS Credit Card Readers: Which Is Best For You

Woo Hoo it is summer festival & craft fair season. That means we get to get outside, set up our pop-up shops & tables to show off our wares. Since I sell warm weather cozy wear, Summer festival season is something I enjoy only as a spectator and customer. But I do love the vibes.   

One question many handmade artisans have is about payment processing, especially since not many people carry cash anymore. I did some research when I was starting to sell at the One Of A Kind Show in Chicago and found that I am a fan of Square. Here is a link to sign up and get a free reader and get your first $1000 free processing.  (Yes I get credit for this link but no that is not a factor in my analysis)

For me, it is just easy and the fee is not too bad. I like the fact that I can get unlimited free card readers so when the booth is busy more than one of us can process sales. I like the reporting analysis because it is easy to read and lets me know what my best selling items are.

The inventory management system was a bit labor intensive to set up but they all are so this isn't a deterrent to me. I would have to set it up anywhere. It is extremely helpful to go through this step to know what really sells and what trends are happening with my products. It also gives me a good overview of traffic patterns in my booth which is extremely helpful.

I have a friend who uses the Etsy reader because it helps her presence on Etsy by increasing sales in her shop. For me, that is not a factor. Plus, I do not like the fact that it makes me subject to Etsy TOU which means I cannot directly market to those customers unless they explicitly sign up for my emails. Similar to why I don't like Pattern by Etsy, it means I am doing work for the Etsy brand instead of my own.

Whatever card reader & POS system you choose, be sure it is right for you and your needs. Below is a breakdown of the three I researched. I know that Intuit also has a card reader / POS system, but I am not familiar with it so you may want to explore that as well.

Happy Market Day season everyone

 

Five Product Photography Hacks For A Homemade Studio

Whether it is for your website, promotional materials or to post on social media, product photography is crucial for success.

But what if you are not a pro photographer with full light kit and studio? Here are five tips, tricks and hacks to help you DIY yourself into better product shots.



Tip 1: Change Your Scene
You can order very inexpensive backdrops from Amazon. I got the Elle Bella Paper Backdrops shown here for $10 each! Then just tape it to the wall that gets the best light and boom: you have a studio.

Or, if you are so inclined you can go the extra mile and order a set of stands to hang the backdrop from. I got this Limo Studio set shown here for $35 on Amazon.

Tip 2: Clean Light Box DIY
If you have smaller products and want that clean white lightbox look, hit up your local craft shop and get 2 pieces of poster board. I got the pieces here for a total of $3 at my local Hobby Lobby.

 

Tip 3: Steady As You Go
Even if you are using your phone, as I personally do about 50% of the time, invest in a tripod. I got the one here for $25 from Amazon and spent another $10 on the Jelly Fish Spring Mount for when I use my iPhone.

Tip 4:  DIY Floor & Backdrop Board
The truth is, sometimes it is just better to go with the classics and drop your product on the floor in a well lit room and shoot overhead. But what if your home rocks a 1970's avocado shag carpet? No prob!

Get yourself one of the $10 paper backdrops I mentioned in tip #1, grab a $2 piece of foam board and glue the paper to the foam board. Instant flat board backdrop. Ideal for almost any product and portable to go wherever you have the light!

If the light hits that one impossible sweet spot - no worries! Just get creative. I often use drawers to prop up my backdrop board in the bedroom that has the best afternoon light.  

 

Tip 5: Use Props
I realize it may sound counter intuitive because you want to keep focus and showcase your product, but the truth is that your image tells a story about your product. So use props to help tell that story and maintain your brand message. I love this mini chalk board I got on clearance for $2.50 but you can also use whatever props are in your home and fit your  brand message and vibe.
 

Hope these tips help you get started to better product photography. Feel free to also share your own tips and hacks below in comments. Happy shooting :-)

Pattern by Etsy: Is It Really Your Own Website?

photo from Etsy blog

photo from Etsy blog

You may have heard, either by news article, blog or an email from Etsy, that Etsy has launched a new Web Service: Pattern By Etsy and are rolling it out this week. Here is a link to the Etsy blog launching the service and the Entrepreneur post.

I can't say I am a fan of this but to serve you best, I will be objective...

On second thought, nah.. let me just lay it out for you. I am finding more bad than good here.

Let's start with the name: Pattern by Etsy. Who thought of this malarkey? I mean really?

In my first 24 hours using the service and reaching out to their customer support there was instant confusion, more than once. You see, I (like many many others) sell my original patterns on Etsy. So their support thought I was having an issue with a Pattern transaction. You can imagine how frustrating it gets spending the first group of emails trying to get them to understand I am talking about their feature not my patterns. Even when my email to support said "I am having trouble with the new website program Pattern by Etsy"... they still came back with instructions on how to download a digital pattern. No kidding.

It blows my mind that they would name it Pattern by Etsy. But moving on...

Pattern by Etsy is slick. It is glossy and pretty and easy to use. The set up process is a matter of a few clicks. Because it is a mask of all the data Etsy already has in your Etsy shop, there is no import. The items are linked on the back end.

You can select from a few Theme Templates and each allows a bit of customization. The customization is quite limited though. You cannot "add pages" or really customize the type of content on your site too far away from what is already in your Etsy shop. The initial content from your Etsy shop comes over and you can edit as needed but again, within the parameters of what Etsy already allows. But it is easy to use and setting up the entire website took a matter of minutes.

At first glance, Pattern by Etsy has all the trappings to entice crafters, hobbyist and small business owners already using Etsy. But hold on... it also has limitations and constraints that make me tilt my eyes,  smirk and shake my head.

Going beyond the fact that Etsy takes 48-72 hours for your site to go live (which baffles me being that they are in fact a tech company) let's talk about the nitty gritty.

Pattern by Etsy is designed to keep you within the Etsy vortex. Similar to how Etsy itself works, Pattern by Etsy will not let you link to an outside site. For example, on the “About” page, I wanted to link to my standalone site www.144stitches.com. The link would not go live forcing customers or site visitors to see the text but not have a clickable link. They would have to “copy & paste” the text into their browser to get to my site. But If I put the link to my other Etsy shop, www.144stitches.etsy.com then the link is live. So you see, it is not actually "my website" as I am still playing by Etsy rules keeping the consumer and me, the vendor and in this case site owner within the Etsy vortex.

Additionally, Checkout is still run through the Etsy check out system.  So customers are still not buying from “you” but are re-routed back to Etsy. This means if they do not have an Etsy account, they will be required to create one.

You work hard, marketing your shop and promoting your work. You spend lots of man hours developing your brand and driving traffic to your new website. In fact, you spend the extra $16 per year Pattern by Etsy charges for your very own domain so you are not using the “patternbyetsy.com” extension to further drive traffic directly to your site and create brand name recognition.

But, in compliance with Etsy TOU, you are NOT allowed to collect emails of your customers or market to them once they have made a purchase. You see Etsy views them as "their" customers and only Etsy is allowed to use their email for marketing purposes.

So now you have your stand alone site doing Etsy’s legwork… not your own. Your brand is now linked to Etsy on a deeper level and all the work you do to get traffic and customers to your site is wasted as you cannot grow them into returning customers. Yes, you are paying for the privelege of doing Etsy's marketing.

Pattern by Etsy promotes Unlimited listings and that you do not have to pay a “listing fee” to add items. But you have to pay $15 per month and still have the listing fees due Etsy any time you add an item. And since you can ONLY add items by adding them to your Etsy shop there is no way around that fee even if you plan to drive traffic only to your new Pattern by Etsy website.

So now you are paying the $15 monthly fee, $16 annual fee for your domain and your Etsy listing fees of $0.20 per item and Etsy takes a 3.5% transaction fee per sale. These fees add up quick. Seriously do the math. and you have to still follow the Etsy TOU though you technically have your "own" website.

One last nail in the Pattern by Etsy coffin is the fact that if you have multiple Etsy shops (as I do) then you must create multiple Pattern by Etsy websites. Yup... they STILL will not allow a single account to operate multiple shops. So in my case, where I have 3 Etsy shops, take all those fees I just mentioned above and multiply it by three. Not to mention I would need 3 separate domains, 3 separate marketing plans, etc. I mean what a confusing headache!

Look, I love (and hate) Etsy. It is how I got my start and has opened so many doors for me. But Etsy today is very different than the Etsy of old and I really can't help but feel like Etsy is scrambling to create new revenue streams by making features that entice users but are just to keep investors happy now that the curtain has been pulled back. To me this feels haphazard and without much forethought for the user, which is the Etsy customer. And I am not talking about the consumer. I am talking about small businesses who use Etsy to sell their wares. Those are the Etsy customer. The money makers for Etsy through fees upon fees. Yet here we are again...

So what do you do?

You are not helpless and if you want your own website and domain go get it! But be responsible and check all the options. If you have big Etsy inventory and are attracted to the fact that Pattern by Etsy integrates your Etsy inventory, maybe you will consider IndieMade or SupaDupa or SquareSpace.  Each allows you to import your Etsy products and I know IndieMade syncs as you sell. And if you have multiple Etsy shops as mentioned above, you can import from multiple shops. Come on... no brainer!

I am a huge fan of these platforms and if you do the math you get way more bang for your buck and have true site ownership and control of your brand!

IndieMade, Supadupa & SquareSpace allow you to add pages and truly control your content as well as customize any of the free templates they provide. You can create a blog to share news and updates if you want. Pattern by Etsy simply allows you to link to an offsite blog, as long as you don't sell anything there because that would technically violate Etsy TOU.

Personally I use Squarespace, though I have used both IndieMade & SupaDupa in the past. For my needs, Squarespace is working great. On my current standalone sites (I have 2) I can list whatever I want (or not). My monthly fee includes listings, data storage, email and whatnot. 

Another option is to get a domain from GoDaddy or a similar service for a few bucks a year then have it direct to your Etsy shop. For as little as $5 a year you can have your very own domain to begin your branding and still it takes customers to your Etsy shop. There - I just saved you over $180 a year :-)

Bottom line is that there are tons of options if you are ready to take the leap, have your own website and begin building your brand beyond having an Etsy shop. I just think anyone considering Pattern by Etsy should take a beat and do the math and decide if it is really right for them. And I think that Etsy needs to find a way to reconnect with the Artisans who helped get it where it is.

Are you using Pattern by Etsy? Are you considering it? I am interested in your thoughts so please join the conversation in comments below.

UPDATE:

When I contacted Etsy to cancel my "free trial" within the 30 day period, I was informed that it would take SIXTY (60) days for me to get "ownership" of my domain, that I purchased through the sign up for Pattern by Etsy so not to use the "patternbyetsy" extension. I was baffled because didn't I "own" it when I paid for it? Nope. Etsy does. And because of ICANN restrictions, they cannot transfer for 60 days. With only a 30 day free trial, that forces me to at least pay for a month to be able to use the domain I purchased and is unacceptable.

I then asked, well could they at least forward the domain to my Etsy shop while I wait out the 60 days? Nope, they said they cannot because of the same ICANN rule. This is odd - especially since on GoDaddy, or anywhere else, I can pretty much forward a domain straight away.

In the end, their support apologized and extended my "free trial" to the full 60 day period. The problem is that for those 60 days, they are killing my google rankings because it appears as duplicate content as mentioned above. Thankfully I did not test Pattern by Etsy with either of my two main shops. But I will still feel the pinch.

 

 

Amazon - The New Kid On The Handmade Block

Well now isn't this interesting! I was kind of waiting for this… Amazon saw the opening with Etsy woes I bet… and here comes competition. They are launching a Handmade at Amazon. Not much info is available but I am sure it will be competitive. Many Etsy sellers and other handmade artisans already sell on Amazon, but it is not in a specific Handmade Marketplace and you need to follow Amazon's strict rules on return policies, UPC codes and other various requirements.

But in the wake of recent Etsy woes since going public (exposure of their big success story being fake, scrutiny over lax practices when it comes to allowing counterfeit products & copyright infringement and trademark infringing products on the site, a potential lawsuit as a result of this practices and a severe dip in stock price) may have been a signal that the time is right for a major competitor to shake things up.

And Amazon already has systems in place to address IP / trademark / copyright  so that is a bonus. They also require certain things from sellers to maintain integrity and this could be promising. Additionally, it appears from the initial emails that they are trying to be distinctive as to what Artisan and Handmade are defined as. All good things if you ask me.

Truthfully, I will always have some type of loyalty and gratitude towards Etsy. It is where I got my start. It is where I met many other creatives. entrepreneurs and developed some great relationships. I even spoke at an event for them. I will always champion what Etsy used to be.

But in reality, Etsy has known about the "reselling" and counterfeit or copyright infringing for as long as I have been there (which is almost 6 years). Sellers on the site have raised the issue and concerns in the forums and to Etsy directly so many times I can't put a number on it.  Etsy hasn't taken any action unless the copyright / trademark owner files a takedown notice. Their stance was untouchable between safe harbor rules and being a private company. Then they went public and these things can no longer be swept under the rug. It shakes the integrity of the site to it's core in my opinion.

Etsy has a tendency and habit to stay silent. That is their known practice, while they leave sellers and merchants hanging in the throws of speculation. Spend a day in the forums and you will see what I mean. But if you weed through the conspiracy theories and rants, there are some genuine and valid concerns that Etsy just does not address publicly if addressing them at all. This has created a very love/hate and tenuous relationship with sellers toward Etsy. This can be fixed - but Etsy doesn't seem interested in fixing this.

Etsy is the known handmade marketplace powerhouse. They've never had a competitive push. Artifire, Zibbet and the many others are out there but never gained enough traction on the buying side. Sure sellers went there, but buyers didn't and that was Etsy's edge. They had the BUYER. 

Well guess what? So does Amazon! 

And that could be the big wake up call to Etsy as well as create a competitive handmade marketplace


While "Handmade at Amazon" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue since it is known as the place everyone goes for fast shipping and bottom dollar pricing on things, I am excited for the doors an Amazon global marketplace would open. 

More details to come when I have them. I applied to be a beta seller and like Etsy themselves always say.. competition is a GOOD thing.

My biggest hope is that this type of competition forces etsy to take a look in the mirror and make changes.

So maybe ... Just maybe between the public scrutiny since the IPO and quarterly filings coupled with the Amazon handmade platform - etsy will take a minute, take a look and use this as an OPPORTUNITY to be awesome again.

 

 

UPDATE:

Shortly after I posted this, I was pointed in the direction of an Etsy forum where a seller suggested this may in fact be part of Etsy's big plan. While I am typically not one to go for conspiracy theories and speculation, this perspective seems both interesting and plausible. Their comments are here:

"As business analysts are saying, Etsy is now a prime target for a buy-out, and there are plenty of HUGE ecommerce players with money to burn who would like to get hold of Etsy.

As they are saying in the business news world, it is way easier for someone else (Amazon???) to buy out Etsy than it is for them to start a whole new venture from scratch. 

The current Amazon presence is not right for selling handmade/artisan goods, so Amazon would have a huge marketing job ahead of them to gain trust and acceptance from consumers in the handmade sector.

It would make a lot of sense for Amazon or Alibaba (or similar ecommerce businesses) to just take over Etsy. Perhaps Etsy *allowed* it's first-quarter financial return to be worse than was expected, because it sure makes Etsy attractive to the really Big Boys on the internet."

This post originally appeared on Crochet By Michele

Crochet & Stay Organized In Style

I have been on the hunt for the "perfect" crochet hook case for about 2 years. It's not that I am picky, it's that I had in my mind exactly what I wanted and wasn't ready to settle for something that didn't meet all my needs. I was about to give up and have one made for me. I support handmade and custom work, but this "custom" aspect always adds to the cost and I am a gal on the budget. Plus there is always the fun of communicating the idea in my head to someone else in a way they get it. I call this artistic challenge.

So there I was... feeling a little frustrated when I decided to give Etsy one last try. And boom!

I discovered a Atelier de Soyun, fabulous shop in South Korea owned and run by a woman who is married to an ex-pat.  Her shop is filled with delightful cases and cary-alls for us knitters & hookers.

I purchased the case and was delighted to received a lovely thank you note. Not the typical generic note, but a very personalized thank you email with information on when my case would ship and when to expect it. It was an unexpected element that made me feel even better about my purchase.

The case arrived very quickly. Within 2 weeks, and well before the estimated time of arrival. When I opened the mailer, the packaging was clean and simple and accompanied by another hand written note.

The case is perfect. First of all the simplicity of the design is perfect. No extra wasted frills and attachment. The fabric color , embellishments and ruching really give that touch of style and beauty. The craftsmanship and materials are top notch. It has a side flap pocket for my small snips, stitch markers and quilting needle. I love the flap over top to keep the hooks from sliding out as well as the snug button closure.

I am truly blown away by the quality for the price.  Most of all though, I am thoroughly impressed by the level of customer service.

In fact, I loved the case and the buying experience so much that I ordered a second one for my larger wooden hook set.

So check out Atelier de Soyun and stay organized in style.

 

 

This post originally appeared on Crochet by Michele

Shop Small in 2014

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It's that time of year again. Every retailer on the planet is clamoring for your hard earned dollars. Steals and deals abound. Stores open at all hours to serve up holiday shopping splendor. That's all fine and good, hey I won't knock capitalism at it's finest. But I will take this platform and opportunity to encourage you to consider shopping small, handmade and even local this holiday season. here is a list of some artisans, small business and fellow entrepreneurs that I encourage you to check out not just for the holidays but all year round. I have personally shopped from every one of these so these suggestions are based on my own experiences. No one paid to be on this list nor were they notified in advance of the list.

This is just me talking to YOU reminding you to shop small!

First up is Mad Love Shop. I met Angel, the owner of Mad Love Shop at the One Of A Kind Show in Chicago last year. We were both featured artists in the Etsy Pavilion and her booth was across from mine. As soon as she started hanging her screen print creations her work caught my eye. I LOVE wearable art. Angel doesn't use a machine screen printing process. She hand screens prints all of her original designs. Come on! THAT is wearable art at it's finest. I own and enjoy several of her designs at this point including a messenger bag, hoodie, and several tank tops.

During the show and since, Angel and I have also gotten to become great friends. She is such a fabulous woman. I encourage you to check out here work at Mad Love Shop here and on Black Friday you can even us code Thankful for 30% off. Um… hello… THAT is a deal!

 

My Rain Girl Bags

Next: is Joanna from Rain Girl Designs.  I discovered Joanna's shop on Etsy when I was in search of the perfect iPad case. I wanted someone to create a case that could be a pouch as well. In my mind it would be fabulous of course. When I contacted Joanna, she seemed to understand exactly what I was after and made the ordering process super easy. I was so impressed with the craftsmanship and customer service that I went back for my project totes.  Joanna looked high and low to find the right fabrics to fit my color palette and style. She created these perfect project totes for me. In fact they are so fabulous, i even use them as purses in summer.

Check out Joanna here and see what fabulous accessory she can create for you.

 

For the sassy fun party & foodie crowd, allow me to introduce you to Dell Cove Spices. Now, discovering Dell Cove was quite a fun thrill. They have everything from BBQ rubs, pop-corn seasonings to drink rim sugars. I mean… they make me drool. I also love following them on Facebook where there is always something cooking or a new recipe to drool over. Someday when I learn to cook, I will probably go broke in their shop. I got a variety of sample packets of the drink rim sugars to include in my gift bags a couple of years ago and they were a HUGE hit. Everyone loved them and you will too.



 

And last but not least is me. Hats, scarves, wraps and more. Get cozy and warm in hand crochet Cozy Chic Accessories.  Use code MC2014 for 20% off items in my Indie Made shop here . If you are looking for one of a kind or want to see all I have to offer check me out on Etsy as well and use code FR8FREE for free shipping through December 2nd.

Do you know of a fabulous small business or artisan? Share their info below in the comments. Let's band together and support small biz!