Etsy is an eBay of sorts of the do-it-yourself movement and surely one of the world’s most vibrant marketplaces for artists to sell their handmade goods. It was built by artists for artists – and for those consumers conscious of the true value of handmade goods and their creators. You can find items by category, tag and colour, and even search for local sellers.
Reason enough to provide due space for this literal treasure trove and speak to Etsy’s European director, Matthew Stinchcomb, who helped open the company’s first international office in Berlin and its Labs, a community workspace where you can take part in Craft Nights and other occasional events.
What’s new at Etsy these days? What’s the so-called Etsy Lab all about and can anyone just come along for a visit?
A lot is happening at Etsy right now. We are launching tons of new features on the site, and working hard to create better experiences for our members around the world. We recently started supporting multiple currencies, and will soon make it easier to find products based on location. Etsy Labs Berlin is a community centre and event space for small business, DIY and artist community in Europe. Located in Kreuzberg, the space is home to regular free events and workshops that focus on micro-enterprise and the work and ideas of creative entrepreneurs. In addition to our own programming, we are proud to offer free use of the Etsy Labs for events, meetings, and exhibitions. Anyone may apply to use the space. Find more details here.
How did Etsy come about?
Etsy was conceived by Rob Kalin in early 2005. A painter, carpenter, and photographer, Rob found there was no viable marketplace to exhibit and sell his creations online other e-commerce sites having become too inundated with overstocked electronics and broken appliances.
Are you much of an arts and craftsman yourself ?
I am a printmaker and a photographer, but thankfully, there are makers on Etsy far more talented than me.
When was the last time you purchased something on Etsy and what was it?
Yesterday. Vintage leather baby shoes for my unborn child (due in a week).
What are your favourite things being sold these days whether vintage or hand-crafted?
I am really into baby stuff, both vintage and handmade. Etsy has incredible vintage finds from around the world. I am also very into feltidermy (search ‘feltidermy-faux’).
Is there a particular trend within handcrafts?
Yes,big chunky knits and dazzle camouflage are kind of hot right now. But the trend I see is about connectedness and community. By nature, we are creative beings, we long for the tactile, and through creation we are connected to other humans. When production is done in some anonymous factory, in some developing nation at great social and ecological cost, we are not connected to an object or the people who made it. Imagine that your house is on fire. Your kids, spouse, pets are all safe, ok? Now, you can run in and grab one object. What is it going to be? Your laptop, your flat screen television? Sure, they may well be the most expensive things you own, but they are anonymous. There are a million others identical to them. There is no ONE behind them. On the other hand, there is only one quilt that your grandmother made, and there will never be another exactly like it. Grandma’s quilt has a story. It is an expression of a human to whom you are connected. And to me, it is this connection that it is important. Connection equals community. And the desire to be a part of something is innate in us all.
What percentage of the sale price actually goes to Etsy?
3.5 percent, 96.5 percent goes to the artist.
From mended woollen socks to the Vagina Pillow or a Vulva Necklace to decorate one’s décolletage, Etsy website has no lack of bizarre objects to keep one entertained on a Sunday afternoon scroll. Are there criteria one has to meet before making sales?
It must be sold by the person who made it. You may not go to Africa and buy a bunch of necklaces from the Masai and then resale them on Etsy. It is about direct connection between maker and consumer. Beyond that, the sky is the limit! Vagina pillows may not be your thing, but I am glad Etsy is a place where you can find them.
JAMES ROWLAND SHOP on Etsy.com
LUX CORONETTE on Etsy.com
THE VAMOOSE on Etsy.com
GARBAGE DRESS on Etsy.com
THE NEEDLE SHOP on Etsy.com