Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Made-by-hand vs. "handmade"

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.

Be well,


Thistle Rose Weaving said...

I watched the townhall meeting yesterday and was not surprised by the changes that Etsy is making. I believe that handmade is just that -- made by my own two hands. Handmade is not sent off to some far away sweat shop in China or Mexico. Single makers are the heart and soul of Etsy, Chad and his cadre have made a serious error and only time will tell if and when Etsy will recover. Time for me to start considering alternatives.

Sarah Norwood said...

First, thank you for including my handmade lingerie in this post :)

I agree with Thistle Rose Weaving that Chad has made a huge error. I was hopeful when they began discussing policy changes, but I cannot support these changes. I do not plan on leaving Etsy; I built my business on it and there is a community there that I enjoy. But I do plan on diversifying as I feel that Etsy Corporation no longer fits with my business model. That is really sad to me. I loved what Etsy stood for and what Rob Kalin started.

Nutfield Weaver said...

I think that you are spot-on, Martha. I, too, think that this was a huge error on Chad Dickerson's part. It is important for single-makers like us to know that there are ways to diversify our businesses, as Sarah mentions in her comments. Maybe a "support a single-maker" holiday shopping movement is in order. Does anyone know of a response from Rob Kalin after yesterday's announcement?

Thistle Rose Weaving said...

I would be very interested in hearing what Rob Kalin's thoughts are concerning the new changes.

Love the idea for a support a single maker holiday movement, how do we start this? Any ideas?

Nutfield Weaver said...

I don't know, Martha, but I am starting to include "single maker" in small things in regard to my shop - I changed my banner. Maybe the tags on Etsy? Twitter? Facebook?

Thistle Rose Weaving said...

Kate, funny how great minds thing alike. I did just the same thing this morning in my shop.