October 17, 2013

Etsy's New Guidelines

Disclaimer: This is solely my perspective as an Etsy seller of handmade goods.

Etsy's new policies regarding what can be sold on the site as handmade now blurs the distinction between handmade and mass production.  I understand that this decision legally opens the website up to a whole new seller-manufacturer demographic that Etsy will greatly profit from--to be fair, these manufacturer-type shops have always been present on Etsy, albeit by not being forthright about their manufacturing process--but at the same time, these new guidelines constrict the creative process that drives many other Etsy sellers who make the deliberate choice to create and sell goods that they themselves--and not a manufacturer--conceptualize and mold from start to finish.  

It takes hours, days, and sometimes weeks for the creative process to unfurl.  This creative process includes not only the conceptualization and molding of a product, but also the intellectual property, photography, and shop listing writing--which adds up to hours spent on quality control, which is then reflected in shop prices.

The mass production of jewelry, for example, brings prices down so low that it is difficult for someone like me, who hand chooses each stone and carefully creates each piece without having to worry about creating x-amount of items per hour, to compete.  Even if the same materials are used.  However, it's the Etsy buyer who is ultimately given the choice of where to shop, but how influential are the new Etsy policies on this choice?  Only time will tell.  The rallying cry, "Shop Handmade" now has a new face.

I just hope with all my heart that Etsy takes a long, hard look at its newly minted corporate-type guidelines because handmade is, at its heart and soul, priceless.  


Kaija said...

Oh, I very much agree with you. Professional pride has been a big deal for me right from the start, and I count correct pricing as a matter of that professional pride. Mass produced items bring the prices so low it's impossible to compete with them. Before there were problems because of unprofessional/uninformed sellers underpricing their work but this takes the issue of competetive pricing to a whole new level.

I realize there are situations where the new guidelines are quite reasonable but for most artists/makers on Etsy it's not a great thing. I doubt Etsy will return to the old guidelines but it's still important to have these problems brought up. Naturally there are still many ways I've yet to think of that'll help me set apart my work (and the quality and importance of my work) from the soulless things now bound to crowd Etsy.

EmeraldCut said...

Hi Kaija, thank you for your comment. I also think that Etsy's new policies benefit only a small percentage of Etsy sellers. And that it excludes the unique and those just starting out, I might add. "Handmade" used to be such a specific definition that actually meant something deeper than just a conceptual design.

P.S. Your shop has so many lovely, one-of-a-kind items that I truly love!