On February 2, this online article was published, An insider speaks on the cult of Etsy, an interview with Matt Stinchcomb, Etsy's European director and one of its first employees. He says several interesting things here.
"Rob [Kalin, founder of Etsy] was coming at it from the lens of someone who is a maker. He wasn't coming at it from the point of view 'what's the best business model?'"
This explains both the warm roots of Etsy as a welcoming community for artists, as well as how Etsy has outgrown itself, with no initial idea of a business plan that allowed for this growth. It started as a handmade site for handmade items. It outgrew its skeleton, so to speak, and had to adapt. The problem now is in the nature of its adapting, while maintaining its integrity and original vision.
Handmade was the heart of Etsy--creators selling handmade items to buyers, often developing relationships along the way. Is handmade the focus in the long term, new business plan?
"Rob hired me to do the marketing, and I have no experience in marketing."
I understand this statement better than I should, maybe. I don't have a marketing degree, yet I market my shop all the time. I'm not in charge of marketing for what has become a million dollar website, however.
"We think there is a more sustainable model which focuses on micro-enterprise and micro-economies."
I'm going to be honest with you. I have no idea what this means. Micro-enterprise would seem to mean small business, right? Isn't that what Etsy already is? A crowd of small business owners collected under one online store front awning?
As for the micro-economies. . .
"What gets really interesting locally is the idea of local currencies. I would love to see an Etsy currency evolve. We could create a whole new economy of micro-economies."
I'm not sure what to make of this either. Etsy currency? Moustaches traded for owls? An Etsy sort of Euro printed on orange paper with a cowl on it under "In Rob We Trust"? If the point is to sell locally, I can already do that at festivals and shows. If the point is to become a sort of swap meet/trading venue, that is not going to pay my internet bill so I can keep a shop.
I like selling my products to people on other contintents. That's part of the thrill of selling online, reaching customers you would never reach otherwise. I also like selling my products for money, and not trading them for sheep. Sheep are cute, but I don't have much use for one.
There is also a paragraph that basically states that more women use Etsy because the profit margin is too low for men to bother with. Sure.
More women use Etsy because more women make stuff. It's that simple. Some of them are stay at home moms. Some of them work outside the home, and love to make stuff. We make stuff, and we'd like to sell that stuff. We'd like to make a profit. Just because we don't have penises does not mean that we settle for less. Usually we do more, in fact, because we love what we do.
And Matt's closing quote: "Always be honest and do what you think is right, not what will make you the most money."
An honorable statement, to be sure. In light of the recent changes on Etsy, I would also say it's dripping with hipster irony.
Be honest, Etsy, and explain your grand plan to us. We're all adults. We can handle it.
The right thing to do is to stand by the artists who built your site when you didn't even have a business plan. Don't silence them, destroy their community, and dismiss their concerns.
I have to believe Etsy's eye at the moment is on what will make them the most money, and let the handmade heavens fall.