In June Barack Obama sat down in Marc Maron’s garage to record a conversation for Marc’s podcast. Did you tune in?
The episode was remarkable on a number of levels, most importantly because the President of the United States was talking to a regular guy in a regular space for a show that went straight to the Internet – no big networks, no fancy studio, and no polished host (Marc is a comedian and his show is called WTF). This was Obama talking to a regular person in a space that regular people occupy. Listening to it I felt like I understood Obama better. He was just a guy talking to Marc. The lines of communication were open in a new way.
I’m not Marc Maron (that’s for sure!) and I’m not going to have Barack Obama on my show (nope!), but I admire this effort at frank and open conversation with the powers that be. In the world of craft one could argue that Etsy holds that power now and to me the biggest challenge Etsy faces is seller disenchantment. I’d like to play a role in opening up a conversation between sellers like me and Etsy. I’ve got a podcast. What if Etsy came to my space and we just talked?
So I sent some tweets, then some emails, and had a phone call and I’m excited to say it’s going to happen.
On September 16 I’ll be recording a podcast interview with two Etsy executives: Heather Jassy and Stephanie Schacht. Heather is the Senior Vice President of Members and Community. Stephanie is the Head of Responsible Seller Growth. I want to take a minute to introduce you to each of them now, before our conversation, because I’d like your input as I go about planning what we’ll talk about.
Heather Jassy came to Etsy in 2010. She grew up in south Georgia and has an undergraduate degree in English and a master’s degree in psychology. She had a therapy and consulting practice before shifting to working in the tech world, first at Lockerz and then Etsy. Heather is an avid reader of the Etsy forums and of blogs that talk about Etsy. The part of Etsy that Heather oversees, members and community, makes up 25% of the company. She lives with her husband and daughter in Hudson, New York.
Stephanie Schacht oversees the vetting of Etsy sellers who want to work with manufacturing partners. She is a sociologist with a PhD from Princeton and she had triple major undergrad at Vanderbilt in Economics, English and East Asian studies. Prior to Etsy she worked in the local food movement and has a keen interest in community and sustainability. She lives in Brooklyn.
To get your juices flowing I recommend the most recent episode of Rendered where Heather responds to sellers’ concerns about the site. (I’m also a guest on this episode). The show is just 15 minutes and I think it might spark some ideas for further discussion.
With the goal of opening a door for ongoing, real talk between Etsy and its sellers, I invite your participation as I plan the questions for my podcast with Heather and Stephanie. I’ve set up Google form so that I can easily gather your input. I would sincerely like to hear from you.
- What do you wish you could say to Etsy?
- What suggestions would you make?
- What’s frustrating you? What do you want Etsy to know?
Submit a question and let’s see what can happen.
I’m not an etsy seller, nor have I bought anything there (except for maybe a digital sewing pattern one time a few years ago!) so I don’t have any good questions to contribute, but I’m really interested to see where this conversation goes! The maker movement has just exploded in the last decade, the last 5 or so years in particular, and I wonder just how sustainable it is, both economically and environmentally. Thank you for shedding light on these topics in such an honest and reasonable way!
I’m an etsy buyer and seller. When etsy came about in 2005 I was so excited to shop there. I wanted to buy handmade and support artisans. As my life changed due to an illness I found art as my go to, so I didn’t go crazy. After a few years I found that I had a supply of finished assemblage pieces, art dolls, glass pet mosaics, and jewelry. So I decided to jump into etsy as a seller. The first year I started my store as a mixture of art and vintage (a hobby of mine is thrift stores so I had purchased a lot through the years) the first 10 months were great. Each month I grew a little, I still wasn’t breaking even but I was excited by what I did sell. The past 10 months have been so difficult. So unfortunately I’ve pulled the plug and my stock is being sold right now at 40% off. It’s not etsy’s fault, but rather I came in late on a fabulous idea. I didn’t get a foothold before things changed and manufactured materials were brought in and sold at discount prices because of a cheap labor force in certain parts of the world. Manufacturers lead to resellers that buy from Alibaba for pennies, say they designed it and had it manufactured. There have always been the problem of people’s art using copywriten characters and trademarked logos. Etsy has long said that they can’t do anything about the intellectual property unless the owner of the trademark or copyright complains. I spoken to a trademark attorney that says this is not true.
I’ve made this suggestion to etsy prior, and received a thank you for your time reply. The one thing that I find my friends say is that it’s become another eBay. Everything is lumped together so the homemade buyer is left to dig through which is annoying them. When you changed the categories why did you not think about the homemade community. Many of my fiend and I have discussed this problem and feel that etsy needs to c
Keep their stock owners happy as well, so let everyone list but in specific sections. Homemade, vintage, supplies and manufactured. That way some one that really wants that item that is difference, OOAK, handmade they can easily find it just by serching. I feel everyone would benefit.
I would like to ask Etsy to require that sells clearly state “one of a kind” YES or NO, and that the place an item was made be clearly marked. It is one thing to buy a scarf hand knit by a woman who knits them individually and quite another to buy it from a “hand made” factory. If I understand correctly, Etsy confuses its customers by selling both high quality handmade goods and poor quality goods that may be hand made but are basically mass produced by underpaid labor in other countries.
I agree with the other comments. We all wish for some way to differentiate the re-sellers from the artisans. When I see a shop filled with a 100 designs of fingerless mitts selling in the $25 range, I know they are a re-seller. But the consumer does not. Goes back to your article on 3BirdNest earlier this year. Truth in presentation. There are great looking curated shops on etsy. My issue is these curators present themselves as makers and that just isn’t true.
marilyn mastine says
I would like to ask Etsy when can we have email integration with Mailchimp. I want to be able to add my Etsy customers to my mailing list. I think that the customers are buying my products because I made them yet Etsy behaves as if it were their customer.
2. The more automated the checkout becomes the less contact I have with my customer, I am really noticing it this year, I liked sending a convo to my customer to tell them I had just shipped their package, now Etsy does it-the whole process can take place without me having any direct contact with them.
3. Many artists no longer work with galleries for the above two reasons, I think that Etsy will have to let go of the “control” if they want to maintain their position.
I’ve added your question to the Google form. Thank you.
My store was shut down without warning last week. I had been open since 2012, had 2 stores, and about 30,000 sales. We generated about $200,000 in sales per year from Etsy and had several employees that we had to let go because of the closure. They gave me a reason but it was wrong. I had an ex-employee that was angry with us and not only shot out our windows, called Osha on us, but sent Etsy “proof” that we were not who we said we were.
Anyway, we will move on. We have applied to sell on the new Amazon Handmade and hopefully we gain back our momentum. But my question is, Why do they find it necessary to close down peoples stores, without getting proof? I am not the only one this has happened to? I loved Etsy. They were my home. I supported them from Day 1. I had very good feedback and a truly 100% handmade product. I supported my community and because of false accusations, 5 people lost their jobs. Jobs that they all truly loved. If they can’t answer this question, then, at least, thank them for turning 5 peoples world upside down.
I’ve never sold on etsy, or bought anything, but would like to have a store there. What has stopped me so far is the huge range in quality of items for sale, and not having any idea how to go about getting one started. I would want some of my items copyright protected. People have sent me pictures of items for sale and asked me to make them something
like that (quilts), and I’m thinking if anyone can forward a picture of an item someone already has there, how do I stop that from happening with my work?
Etsy has some great tutorials to help you get started and the site is very easy and intuitive to use. You are welcome to file a copyright with the US Copyright Office for your designs, but creative work is also automatically copyrighted to the creator upon its creation. You’re right, though, that anyone can look at and forward a photo they see online. There is no way to stop that from happening except to not sell online. If that is of great concern to you, an online business may not be the right fit.
I am an etsy buyer. I briefly considered selling things on etsy until I saw just how flooded it is with products like I make. I can’t even fathom how to make myself seen. And beyond that, I’m a crafter, not a photographer. Seems like you have to have a $1,000 Nikon and invest hundreds in Photoshop and the like in order to sell your $20 hat, in competition with someone out of country who will sell it for $5. No thanks.
Now, as a buyer, I adore etsy! I had never dreamed of shopping there even 2 years ago, but now it is my go-to place to get patterns. One thing I find frustrating and would like to see changed is that it is oh, so difficult to gift a pattern to someone. For example, I recently purchased a pattern which I loved. I wanted to purchase an additional copy to give to my mom. But unlike purchasing a hard copy of something, the way etsy has set up digital downloads, I cannot purchase the pattern and have it sent/gifted to someone else’s account so that they can have unlimited access to it. The automatic downloads simply go to the account linked to the purchase. This limits the amount of purchased I would make, because I would be doing a lot more gift-buying if downloads if it were possible.
So my questions are, what can etsy do to make digital downloads giftable? Why is this not an option? What can a seller do to make gifting of downloads a possibility?
Whoa, sorry about the typos! ????
Great question about finding a way to gift a digital file.
As far as competition on Etsy, I agree with you that the marketplace is huge and feels overwhelming. I don’t think that you need a $1,00 Nikon camera or Photoshop, though. I have neither and I have a successful Etsy shop. You can do an awful lot with the iPhone camera or a simple point and shoot digital camera and free photo editing tools. I use PicMonkey and Canva. It does take time and skill and photography is incredibly important when it comes to selling online. If investing that time and making that effort doesn’t feel appealing, having an online business is not the right choice.
Thanks Abby! Maybe I’ll be able to put more time into honing some photography skills once these 7 (and counting) munchkins grow up and stop expecting me to act like a mom. 😉 Until then, I’ll keep spending way too much money on Etsy. I look forward to your upcoming interview!
I am an Etsy seller and have been for several years. Aside from the previous comments about items wholesaled from China and sold as handmade; I want to know when Etsy is going to change their feedback policy to make it fair. A customer absolutely should not be able to leave feedback on a cancelled transaction and Etsy should step in and assist sellers when a customer is using feedback ratings to blackmail a seller. Etsy doesn’t want to “get involved” but they want the seller fees.