Etsy is an international community of designers, creators, artists and entrepreneurs that grows every day. In this series, we’re spinning the globe to take a closer look at country-specific maker scenes around the world.
In just the last twelve months, more than 2,400 Etsy shops based in Israel have opened up for business, offering everything from stunning jewelry to luxurious leather wares, bespoke bathing suits, fashion-forward clothes, covetable shoes, adorable toys and well-designed home goods.
Read on for a peek into this fast-growing part of the Etsy community.
An Energetic Mosaic of Cultures
“Israel is a very small country and not many people around the world really know it, except for what you hear in the news,” says Maayan Shpigel, who sells colorful kids’ wear and baby home goods like bedding and stroller liners in her shop Mezoome Designs. “So if you want to ‘make it big,’ you have to think big and outside of the box.” Zozi Avraham, the jeweler behind ZOZIdesign, thinks this nurtures an inventive spirit. “Israel has a high percentage of entrepreneurs in the population,” she says. “The country is relatively young, and the mentality of people here is a ‘can-do’ attitude.”
Of Israel’s eight million inhabitants, about 20 percent are Arab citizens, and many are immigrants from Romania, Thailand, China, Africa, and South America. “Israel is a place where many cultures and traditions exist—unfortunately not always managing to co-exist—and I think the possibilities of combining those together make Israel’s creative culture special,” says Ayelet Gazit who needle felts adorable little creatures for her shop Lazy Animals. “In every country the culture is a part of the maker scene, it is just who we are,” adds Shpigel. “With Israel being a melting pot of cultures, this influence is enhanced.”
Laurie Goldstein, whose eponymous shop carries her handmade ceramics, says, “[Israelis] are lively, impatient, constantly on to the next thing, searching, and creating—there’s lots of energy buzzing around.” It means trends in the crafting community come and go quickly. “Right now everybody is crocheting. Last year it was washi tape; next year, who knows?” Goldstein says.
“It is easy to start a creative business in Israel. What is difficult is to maintain it and make it profitable,” says Avraham. There are a number of challenges: even though many people are excited about handmade, the market is small and their purchasing power isn’t sustainable. Material supplies are limited. Many shops sell by consignment, a particularly difficult model for small businesses. And Israel’s recent economic slowdown means consumers aren’t as quick to pay the price handmade products call for.
“Everybody in the creative community here knows Etsy,” says Avraham. Ayelet agrees: “Etsy has made it easier to reach a wide international audience, in a very personal and familiar way.” Osnat Zilbershtein, who makes ornate gold and silver jewelry for her shop Omiya, says Etsy has had a big influence on Israel’s maker scene. “I think the fact that Etsy allows creative people here to work from their homes, and sell the things they are good at, played a big part in the local DIY community, allowing artists to turn unfulfilled dreams into actual businesses.”
Etsy can also help Israel’s makers in ways most sellers don’t need to consider. “In November 2012, there was a war, which obviously affected sales here in Israel,” says Avraham. “But I was able to count on my Etsy earnings from the holiday season.”
Despite the challenges of running a handmade business in Israel, the country’s creative scene is thriving, and its makers take incredible pride in the work they’re doing on their home turf. “The handmade scene here, it’s definitely growing and blossoming,” says Goldstein. Gazit offers her own optimism: “More and more unique products are being made in a wide range of styles. There’s much to look forward to in the future of Israel’s DIY scene.”
Shop the Scene
Here’s a selection of items all proudly made in Israel.
For more wonderful stories about Israeli Etsy sellers, check out these features from our archives:
Featured Shop: Tamar Shalem
Featured Shop: Blush Fashion
Featured Shop: Naftul
Featured Shop: Eynat Klipper
Featured Shop: I Love Mona
Featured Shop: Tush Tush
Fresh Shop: Tesler + Mendelovitch
Fresh Shop: AFK Designs
Fresh Shop: Noga Berman
Fresh Shop: Assemblage Unique
What country’s makers would you like to see featured on the blog? Let us know in the comments!
Lisa Butterworth is a writer and editor soaking up the eternal sunshine in Los Angeles. When she's not on the hunt for the latest and greatest in girl culture as the West Coast editor of BUST magazine, she's flea marketing, taco trucking, and generally raising a ruckus.