I attended an Etsy town hall meeting last Tuesday for the first time. It was a live feed of the town hall meeting held in New York with 5 panelists including the CEO of Etsy, Chad Dickerson. Dickerson describes Etsy as “a platform that provides meaning to people, and an opportunity to validate their art, their craft.” From the town hall meeting, I gained a lot of respect for Dickerson and the Etsy team because they genuinely seemed concerned about sellers, and us, artists.
The one topic that was reiterated throughout the town hall meeting was the definition of handmade. Sarah Abramson made a very good point that something can be judged handmade based on how many hands have touched the product. Were there different hands that designed it, then cut it, then painted it, and even different hands that shipped it? The more hands that touched it probably isn’t considered handmade by one artist and one business owner. Were those hands from China or the Philippines? I, too, must take authorship, responsibility and become transparent in my craft. That is why I am buying supplies from a U.S. manufacturer. For the new Etsy guidelines click here.
This leads me to my other point of personalized items and handmade. Etsy sells a lot of great personalized items that are handmade from start to finish. But when Etsy sellers just stitch a monogram on finished products that were mass-produced in factories and sell them for a quick buck, it is not handmade. These are re-sellers. Did they make the bag or locket or even those slippers? Real design and creation stems from a real need and the need to share this art with the world.
I want to share an Etsy shop that is committed to handmade. They make their high-end toiletry bags from beginning to end.
Words from Felix Street Studio: “*****If it is important to you to buy authentic HANDMADE goods, don’t be fooled by bags and totes passed off as “Handmade” here on Etsy. Check closely to see if the seller actually makes the bags or buys them in bulk from a factory in China and then embroiders or personalizes them, allowing the buyer to think they are buying a unique handmade item. My stuff is the real handmade deal, from start to finish!*****”
All I ask of you Etsy shoppers is to be an informed buyer. Read the shop’s “About Page” and even Google search the items image to see that it can’t be bought anywhere else. It starts with you supporting artists and creators who make the world a better place, one handmade item at a time. Enjoy your night!