Etsy Speaker Series: Handmade Marketplace Panel Discussion

Last Thursday I had the pleasure of attending the third in Etsy's Speaker Series, which this time around was a panel discussion inspired by a book I'd just treated myself to: The Handmade Marketplace by Kari Chapin. Kari was joined by illustrator Jennifer Judd-McGee, jewelry designer Betsy Cross, sculptor Liz Smith, and writer Kim Werker.

The discussion was simulcast in the Etsy Virtual Labs, and I could have attended from the comfort of my couch, but I had heard a rumor that refreshments would be provided by Ninecakes. Needless to say, that encouraged my in-person attendance.

Kari Chapin was inspired to write The Handmade Marketplace because, in her words: "I was working in an adorable home goods boutique as the manager and buyer. The shop already had a strong focus on handmade goods when I came on board, but I saw an opportunity to add even more to my tiny shop's shelves. I started contacting Etsy sellers asking if they would be interested in selling some of their goods in my store, and lo and behold, these amazing sellers had a lot of questions for me. I found myself on a weekly basis writing up long, descriptive emails, guiding these fine folks regarding the ins and outs of working with a brick and mortar store."

The Handmade Marketplace
tackles these questions in a clear and concise manner, and is presented in a beautiful and pleasurable to read format.

At the panel discussion, questions broke down mainly into three areas: pricing, selling, and marketing.

PRICING Determining what to charge for your work is often difficult, especially when you add to the mix wholesale versus retail. The panel emphasized the importance of not undercharging for your work, both for your sake and for the sake of other artisans.

There is a great blog post by Jill Hannah on pricing your work.

SELLING Jennifer Judd-McGee called Etsy "an introverts paradise," which made me nod in recognition. In The Handmade Marketplace, Chapin explains both online and in-person retail selling, including the typical yearly calendar of shows, and how to start a new craft fair.

MARKETING How to stand out from the crowd? Chapin devotes a good deal of her book to this, and a leitmotif of the panel discussion was the importance of community in the success of a home-grown business.

Diane Gilleland's great e-book Social Media for Your Crafty Business helps sheds light on this topic further,

It was an incredibly inspiring evening led by women who work hard and seem to be living out the dream many of us have of taking the leap toward self employment in our crafty business.

-MaryAnne LoVerme