Hi Readers! It's been quite a while since you've heard from me. I'll get into the why I've been absent at a later time (aka future posts), but for now, I want to come back to the Etsy New York Team Blog with thoughts on the most recent Hello Etsy conference held at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York the weekend of March 22-24, 2013.
Image by Etsy
Two years ago, I covered the first Hello Etsy New York Event. I shared what I thought were the key tips from one session. This time around, I need to put out a full series of posts because the weekend in it's entirety was mind blowing!
This year's Hello Etsy conference was completely different from the first one I attended. Two year's ago it was a smaller spin off of the huge event held in Berlin, Germany. I can't write about the Berlin event, but I can tell you that where as there were maybe 40 of us in the Etsy Labs that September day, there were now hundreds of us walking across the campus of Pratt Institute. The speakers at the event two years ago were interesting, large personalities from local communities across America, and they were a great way to introduce the concept of sustainability to "Etsypreneurs." The line up of speakers alone at the 2013 Conference shows just how different of a ball game Hello Etsy has become and will continue to evolve as Etsy takes it's shift into a socially aware and responsible company serious.
Last year, I reflected on Etsy's announcement of becoming a certified B-Corp on this blog and talked about what it means for Etsypreneurs. I talked about how great it was to see Etsy moving in this direction. To be quite honest, it brought me to tears. My business lives because of the hope of Etsy. My world depends on a clean and healthy environment. If Etsy is going to pave that path that I'm walking for me, then I'm going to walk along it and help them as much as I can. Which is why two years later, even though I wasn't overwhelming impressed with the first Hello Etsy Conference in 2011, I spent $85 on a ticket as soon as the event was announced.
I talked to quite a few different people at the conference and was amazed by the assortment of people in attendance. There were Pratt design students, Etsy staff, team members from Etsy New York, and then a whole host of different level Etsy sellers. I was a bit shocked at first by the amount of new sellers that were hoping to learn something new for the event. Then I realized that while they may not get what they were hoping for, they'd get something a bit different, and hopefully eye opening to starting their business.
For those of you who don't know, I spent almost five years working in a corporate communications department that focused on environmental/sustainable/corporate social responsibility (CSR) and I learned a lot. It is why I laid down the foundation of environmental friendliness, concern, social giving and education at the beginning of my business dreaming and planning. It is why I love that Etsy is taking the steps to share this path with all of their community, not just the sellers, but the buyers, the government (have you seen how Etsy has teamed up with the entire town and Mayor of Rockland, Illinois on craft entrepreneurship?), leaders in the environmental, technical, and social change worlds.
There is a firm, but fine line between setting up a business from the beginning with deeply rooted mission for change and responsibility, not just socially and environmentally, but on good business practices such as ethics and morals, and a business that does it after the fact. Yes, it is better to be "in" than to be out, but you have a much harder time understanding your focus if you switch it years down the line. Not to mention, you have to then prove and become credible to your followers, fans, and customers once the change takes place.
Now, I'm not saying this is improbable, because it isn't, but it takes a lot of commitment and hard work. No matter how many good intentions we have, in order to change our communities and even our own ideas and practices, we have to walk the walk-we have to take actions that lead the way and show others that it is possible and that there is hope.
That is the key to what I took from this year's Hello Etsy conference: "It starts with you and it starts small, but from those small steps anything is possible and will happen."
Everyone who got on the stage to present gushed about Etsy. They talked about all the great things about Etsy and how they see it as one of the greatest tools of change that's come about in the last few years.
You are part of that.
They mentioned how we're now able to laterally connect and share our work and make livings that have nothing to do with the current business structure, but have everything to do with our humanness and the connections we build and create together. They are absolutely correct. When I think about some of the sales I've made to people as far as Australia, I am floored that my little box, that I use to type this post now, connected me to that person and to the person she gave my item to. It is life changing!
In my next few posts, I'm going to delve into presentations full on. I think it's worth sharing for those of you who didn't/couldn't attend the conference. Each presentation had a different topic, had different leaders weighing in on that topic, and were so varied that I want to share.
Until my next post, please leave your thoughts in the comments. If you attended the conference, what did you think? What do you think about Etsy's shift into the sustainable movement? Do you have any concerns for your shop or business? Please ask and share below. I'm excited to hear your thoughts. Not to mention, we need to continue this conversation!