Etsy sellers looking to scale their shops
Etsy has launched a new initiative to match its site sellers with manufacturers, so small-scale jewelry designers can ramp up their production.
“A growing segment of our Etsy sellers want to scale their shops,” says Emily Smith, Etsy’s senior program manager of manufacturing. “They may have a design for a necklace that they can make one or two of, but when it starts to really sell, they need help producing it on a larger scale, and they want to work with a partner. It’s traditionally been hard to find those people, even if you look on Google.”
The program will consider the needs of both sides to work out proper fits, Smith says.
“It’s not just a directory of businesses,” she explains. “It’s an actual technology. We compare it to online dating a lot. The Etsy seller will approach the manufacturers via Etsy communication. The manufacturer will get an email that says the seller [is looking for someone] to do some bench work. The cool thing is they can look at the seller’s shop and see if those are products they can work on. There is not so much back and forth because they will be able to understand each other’s work.”
The program is currently in its beta stage. Once Etsy figures out what works, it might charge transaction fees.
In 2013, Etsy allowed manufacturers on the platform, which has traditionally been limited to handcrafted products.
“We want to take this opportunity to say manufacturing isn’t this huge dirty scary industry,” says Smith. “It is a very human, creative-maker driven industry just like our maker-sellers. We wanted to make it really human and give manufacturers a lot of room to tell their story.”
Yet, manufacturing can have a dark side. Etsy is looking for “responsible” partnerships, so all the manufacturers must commit to making the products on-site. For now, it’s limited to manufacturers in the United States and Canada.
“As part of the application, every manufacturer has to commit to certain affirmations around transparency and their workplace,” says Smith. “There is a screening process. We don’t go through their profile pages to vet if their information is accurate, but we do look and confirm those basic affirmations. We encourage a high level of transparency and really encourage the sellers to do their own research.”
While the program could be expanded internationally, it hasn’t developed clear guidelines for how it might handle overseas manufacturing.
“We don’t have international rules spelled out, but production on-site is a key value for us,” she says.
So far the program has received 600 applications from manufacturers.
“Jewelry is a huge category, and we are always looking for jewelry manufacturers to get involved,” she says.
More information on the program and an application can be found here.