I Support Handmade

This is a little soapboxy. You’ve been warned!!


This is my hand. This is my left hand. You can sort-of see the scars over by my little finger, and the indent from the yarn from where I hold it around my index finger when I crochet.

It’s fairly standard, as far as hands go. My hands are a little small, and they’re always either ice cubes or heat lamps because I have poor circulation.

I use my hands to make things. I crochet, I knit slowly and poorly, I quilt marginally well. I make tiny things out of polymer clay, and then they get covered in baby powder. I’ve suffered burns and cuts and one crochet-hook-puncture-wound all in the name of hand-making stuff.

And the stuff I sell, I make with my hands. My hands. That qualifies them as handmade.

But Etsy is trying to redefine handmade. Back in January, Etsy shut down a popular corset shop because they felt she was outsourcing too much of her work. They were her designs, her hard work, her knowledge… and a few were sewn together by her mother. So instead of trying to work with her to resolve this little policy issue, they shut her shop down.

In just the last couple of weeks, there was a seller in the “featured seller” section who turned up quite a few questions in the crafting world. It turned out that she is a wholesaler for a company in Bali. She may or may not have something vaguely to do with the design, but she imports the furniture pre-assembled from Bali and sells it on Etsy as handmade. There’s no arguing that someone’s hands made it. Or maybe someone’s hands ran the machines that made it.

Etsy removed her as the featured seller, then “researched” and reinstated her saying that it was ok because her shop was a collective- and then went as far as to change their terms of service just enough to make it ok.

It’s ok for someone to be a wholesaler for someone else’s handmade work- when they may or may not be involved in “designing” the product (and by designing, I mean picking the individual colors or color scheme that go into each piece)- but getting your mom to sew a few corsets together is not ok.

Etsy keeps saying that resellers and wholesalers are not allowed. That they just can’t catch everyone, and that Etsy is your one-stop-shop for handmade items!

Today, and again on May 10, I will have all of my Etsy listings deactivated in support of keeping Etsy handmade.

9 responses to “I Support Handmade

  1. craftgirl78

    Good for you! I have been considering selling some of my own designs and handmade creations, and Etsy was one place I was considering. After reading this post, I WILL go ELSEWHERE!!

    • A lot of folks are hoping that The Craft Star (which is scheduled to be rolled out soonish) is going to better! There are a good number of smaller venues, but of course… They are smaller venues. :/

  2. Bravo! You look great on your soapbox!

  3. Good for you! I’m an Etsy seller, but I am also bothered by the lack of action taken against those who are obviously wholesalers/factory owners (witness the clothing shop with around 300 items on offer – each of which states in the listing that they have it ready in most sizes and colours and can ship immediately… Wow, that person must have worked for years to make so much stock before they opened their store!)… also the skewed point of view towards sellers such as the corset-maker mentioned above.
    Just because you get a bit of help with assembling/ stitching / sticking an item, doesn’t mean you didn’t design it – and hand made is still hand made, whoever’s hands made it. And if that applies to the Big sellers, then it must apply to the small ones!
    When does Hand Made become “Assembled by Hand”… when does “Assembled by Hand” become “mostly stitched / stuck / fixed together by machines operated by hands”… when does “mostly machines operated by hands” become “mass-produced machine made in a factory”?
    If an online marketplace claims to support and sell Handmade only (and vintage / supplies if you like, but they are a different area)… then they must have clear policies And Stick To Them – all the time – properly and fairly.
    If it’s not okay for 2 people to work together on an item, then they must State this Clearly in their Rules.
    And in that case, a huge number of the shops on Etsy must be closed down, because many people work together as a pair/ small team (creating Handmade items)… so if Mum-helping-with-the-sewing doesn’t count as Handmade, then I guess neither does Husband-and-Wife-Team, or Friends-working-together… Ludicrous!
    And if that is the case, wherever does it put “Miss/mrs/mr-person-who-runs-that-clothes-shop-with-300-items-in-5-sizes-all-ready-to-ship”?
    The best way to beat this rot, is for people to refuse to patronise shops who are clearly going against the spirit of Handmade. Vote with your (virtual) Feet!
    Meanwhile, I am working away patiently on my own. I have an Etsy shop and am hoping for improvements from Etsy… but I’m not holding my breath…they seem to have caught the Big Business Bucks Bug and I don’t believe there is a cure.
    And I’m trying Luulla… a new marketplace that is still being built. I’ll see how that goes!

    • That’s what gets me the most, is the arbitrary application of rules, and the complete fabrication and/or contradiction of what’s actually going on. If Etsy stated clearly that they’re open to wholesale dealers, or mass-/factory-produced items, or this latest bit where they said in the forums that the new wedding registry was based off of relevancy and then just put on their blog that it was fully curated…
      Good luck, I hope Luulla works out!!! šŸ˜€

  4. Yep–another reconsidering the Etsy venue here as well!

  5. The tide has been turning for awhile. This is just another step up the rung to Etsy becoming less of a handmade marketplace and just a regular marketplace. I think they’re getting close to the tipping point for me, and I’m already half-heartedly investigating new avenues to follow. It’s close…

    • Yeah, me too. The only thing is, there aren’t any other venues that have the same amount of stability (’cause let’s face it, handmade or not Etsy’s been around for years now) or exposure. :/

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