Hello, friends. Have you ever shopped for a special gift for a friend or a loved one on Etsy? If so, perhaps you have noted the tag line that appears right next to its main web address in your browser:
"Etsy - Your place to buy all things handmade, vintage, and supplies"
I am curious to know what the new tag line will read after January 1, 2014, when Etsy's new policy of allowing manufactured goods onto the venue will take effect:
The CEO of Etsy, Chad Dickerson, believes that this is an empowering move for shop owners, since many are just so sadly overwhelmed with their highly profitable and busy online storefronts, that the only way for them to cope is to hire out laborers who will do the actual work. And the labor force can be anywhere. And this way, since ours is a global economy, according to Chad Dickerson, "Etsy will change the world."
Well. Rather a bold statement, if I may say, since it seems to me that this is pretty much the way things run already.
Etsy has taken it upon itself to alter (some might say "falsify") the definition of "handmade." What does "handmade" mean to you? If a person draws a sketch of, for example, a woman's winter coat, but does not cut the actual fabric herself or step near a sewing machine, is the item "handmade?" Please share your comments! I'd love to read them.
There are already 1 million active sellers on Etsy, and yours truly is but one. Small, "single maker" shop owners have legitimate concerns that we will be squeezed out of this online marketplace - the very one that artisans and craftspeople like us have helped to build and to promote. Here are just two "single-maker" shops that embrace the "made-by-hand" philosophy & offer high-quality, deliberately & carefully crafted pieces: Elena Rosenberg handknits luxury fiber women's wearable art from her home in Westchester County, NY and Sarah Elaine of "Ohhh Lulu" in Orillia, Ontario designs, cuts, sews, and finishes carefully made pieces of beautiful lingerie.
What is a single-maker-shop girl to do? Well, in addition to my handweaving, I have been working hard to investigate other avenues of sharing my work. (And in truth, I have been working at this for some time now, well before Etsy's policy change announcement yesterday). I will continue to exhibit my work on a regional level and, as time permits, plan to hang out my own shingle out on the Internet and slowly dig myself out from under the Etsy platform. (So all of that HTML coding that I've been absorbing over the years just might come in handy.)
Until then, friends, know that all of the items that I make are "made-by-hand" and, in my case, "made-by-feet" as well.
I encourage you to read Etsy's policy changes here:
and, if you embrace the concept of "made-by-hand" artisans and craftspeople, consider stopping in at a "single-maker" shop and offering a word of encouragement and support.