Who is out of step with whom?

Every-inch-hand-paintedEvery inch of my silk scarves are hand painted by me. It’s obvious, I know, but that means like other artisans who craft all their own pieces, I can’t compete with mass-produced work. I’ve written several posts about my experiences of selling on Etsy and last May commented on the relationship between crafters and Etsy. More recently it has been reassuring for me to read that I am not out of step with many of my fellow artisans who like me have found that Etsy is no longer the platform for their work.

My-work-on-frameInterestingly, earlier this week, the American business magazine Forbes interviewed Gil Luria, director of research at the investment firm D.A. Davidson, concerning the state of the online marketplace Etsy. And, in his commentary he opines

. . . . .  the biggest change in the run up to Etsy’s 2015 IPO — [was when] the company removed its requirement that all goods sold on the platform had to be handmade. This gave big manufacturers access to Etsy’s loyal customer base. When Etsy started listing $10 bracelets from Chinese factories right next to $100 bracelets handmade by homemakers in Wisconsin, the homemakers could no longer compete.

Initially you may think that perhaps hand painted silk is not as easily copied and mass-produced as some jewellery appears to be, but a big manufacturer simply takes original artwork for a scarf, scans it and then laser prints it onto silk over and over. This state of affairs doesn’t merely affect solo crafters. Within the luxury brands sector companies often have their work copied, and, as I am sure you have noticed, fake versions are found at street markets all over the world. One feature which frequently adds value to handmade work is when there is only one of its kind and consequently even a limited ‘print’ run is unacceptable let alone approving mass production. When Etsy permitted mass-produced stock to be listed directly side by side with handmade they effectively undercut and devalued handmade and at the same time diminished and diluted their own brand!



Author: agnesashe

Artisan, blogger and passionate East Anglian working from home.

6 thoughts on “Who is out of step with whom?”

  1. Etsy’s not my world of course, but I agree. You and your fellow artisans deserve to be respected for who you are: individuals selling unique pieces. If Etsy can’t see that, you’ll all have to bunk off and find or form a site that does, and they can just turn themselves into a department store on line.

    1. I think your comment pretty well sums up how I feel about it all. However, I must say that although I’m not on there anymore plenty of great ‘handmade’ people are continuing to persevere with it.

  2. I am saddened by the willingness of people to run everything straight to the money, and yet-there are still people who value one of a kind and unique, too. I am glad for that.

    1. Yes, I agree and that’s why it’s such a shame that amongst all the blatant money stuff Etsy’s initial alternative model has morphed into more of the same. ☹️

    1. When I first launched my online shop four years ago I investigated the platform choices and have since then had another look at what’s available. Actually, I have had several contacts from start up platforms. However, I still find the same problem. And, it’s that many people selling handmade work appear to price for their materials only and not their time. It is particularly an issue on the more ‘home sweet home’ types of sites. I have found more interest from being a member of the Guild of Silk Painters. Anyway, enough whinging, I am trying out a new ‘in real life’ craft fair around Christmas this year – I will post how I get on. Fingers crossed.

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