Maybe you’ve gotten wind of the newest batch of drama. Here’s some recommended reading:
The three links below are of particular interest if you’d like to read about how specific sellers have been treated by Etsy:
And just in case you haven’t read Etsy’s mission statement lately: http://www.etsy.com/about
Or, if you want a summary with my own take on it, keep reading. If you like any of the photos included in this post, please click on them and have a look: they’re all linked to the nifty handmade items I’ve found on Etsy… genuinely handmade items I like and appreciate having easy access to on one shopping site.
People are upset because they feel Etsy has betrayed their own purpose by stretching the rules and redefining “handmade” to allow resellers of mass produced items to be an accepted part of the handmade category. Etsy would really love it if the entire handmade community would welcome them with open arms and without any whining, thanks. Sure, these items are technically handmade – someone made them – but I believe the real issue lies in the fact that some shop owners quite apparently didn’t make those items themselves, that they physically could not have made the sheer number of items they list (in the handmade category) all by their lonesome. I understand why some people are so outraged, but by the same token, I don’t entirely share in their angst – mainly because I haven’t grown attached enough to Etsy to get all lathered up about the decisions made by those pseudo-hipsters in their corporate offices. I mean, it isn’t like we didn’t see this coming.
Let’s talk about the term “community”. Etsy really likes that one and uses it every chance they get. To me, the word “community” is nothing more than an implication that I’ll eventually be asked to fork over a chunk of my flesh in exchange for being accepted by that community. (I’m not much of a team player, obviously.) For example, do I want to be part of a community of people who glue glitter and rhinestones on garbage and call it “upcycled” or “repurposed” and slap a $300 price tag on it? Jokes about having an etsy shop have made their way onto network TV sitcoms, if that tells you anything of the general public’s opinion about that. But seriously, is the existence of that glittery $300 garbage, or the seller who imports similar garbage and sells it on Etsy, affecting anyone in any measurable way? Maybe, maybe not. It really comes down to the point that these authentically handmade items, hideous or not, deserve to be the stars of the show. That’s why these artisans chose to peddle their wares on Etsy in the first place. Potential buyers shouldn’t be forced to slog through thousands of cheap Alibaba products to find them. And if the buyer wants both types of items, it should be very clear which is which.
What I’ve gathered over these last several days of reading is that it isn’t only about how it may affect one’s pocketbook, it’s as much about Etsy members who feel strongly about the handmade principle. Some people see Etsy as not just a sales venue, but as a lifestyle – so this is insulting and threatening to them. On the other hand, if the consumer is truly a purist when it comes to buying “artisan handmade” they’ll do the research and make the right choices. One argument is that the average consumer doesn’t know any better, or can’t tell the difference at first glance, and should be educated. Okay, so who is going to do that? Big business? Fat chance. Etsy IS big business, whether we like it or not. However, I do agree that if Etsy is going to tout the “lovingly created by me with my own two hands at my kitchen table after the kids pass out” bit as the main criteria for listing in the handmade category, then they should be responsible for enforcing it to the letter, no ifs ands or buts.
I may have a good solution to this problem, for what it’s worth: If Etsy isn’t going to close down the shops of the resellers and importers of mass produced goods, then why not just create a new main category for them, or give them their own subcategories where they’re pertinent? That way, Etsy gets to keep the sincere cottage crafters that made them what they are, and they also get to keep making the big bucks off of the faceless importers and sellers of mass produced items. Unless I’m missing something important here, I’m pretty sure that a compromise such as this would facilitate less complaining and more selling. Everyone wins, save for those who can’t be made happy no matter what.
The moral of this story is that maybe I have more important things to think about. This Etsy Thing is what most people would consider a “first world problem”. But some of the changes Etsy has made recently have caused my personal peeves to stick out and grow gnarly hairs, and it’s starting to add up. I’m reasonable enough to hoof it on out when I can’t stand it anymore. I count myself extremely lucky to have a wonderful clientele base that trusts me and knows they needn’t rely on a middleman like Etsy to buy from me. I realize that many other artisans may not be so lucky, and I certainly wouldn’t fault them for not picking up and leaving.
FYI, there’s a big protest in the works for May 10, and I’m not sure what I’ll do. Will it affect any change? I’ll see how I feel closer to that day.
Thanks so much for reading! If you have any compelling arguments or opinions on this matter, please feel free to share. Maybe you can sway me one way or another. I may be on the fence, but my balance is a little precarious lately…