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RI Handmade Team: From Independent to Interdependent

May 10, 2010

by paperinstyle handmade and vintage goods


Hearing success stories is one of my favorite things about working with the Etsy Teams. Many people ask about what their Team can do to gain more members or get publicity. Today Ceylan from paperinstyle shares her experiences and gives some valuable advice on how her Team, RI Handmade, has flourished.

RI Handmade is a dedicated Rhode Island local Team with a mission to increase awareness for handmade products made with love and passion. We accomplish this by working as a team to promote our art on Etsy, at local shows and through networking.

As with every new Team, ours is maturing through the four stages of Team development: “Forming,” “Storming,” “Norming” and “Performing.”

Forming stage, a.k.a. “the polite stage,” was when we set a clear mission and vision in August 2009. After a few iterations we as a group created our mission as the co-founders of the RI Handmade Team: Floweredsky, NewMoonStudio, paperinstyle, tulayskitchen. We kicked off our Team by putting together a show in East Greenwich, RI.

Photo of one of the booths at the fair in East Greenwich. Photo by Ceylan.

We used our network to find a great space on Main Street and prepared flyers and post cards to market the event. It was a great success as well as a Team building activity!

“I was there to represent my newly established catering business,” says Tulay from tulayskitchen. “A few days before the event I went door-to-door, handing out flyers to local East Greenwich businesses. Fortunately it was a beautiful and sunny day and people from all over the state of Rhode Island came to see our show! I learned so much about networking. This was a great Team effort and I look forward to more of our shows this year, especially our next fund raising that will be open to non-member artisans!”

As the Team moved towards the Storming stage (when Team members behave independently) we acknowledged the importance of having agreed upon norms and standards. Our Team Stormed a while during this process, ultimately enabling us to focus on goals and objectives and to hold each other responsible.

Photo of Tulay taken by her sister Esin

1. The Team will meet at least every other month.
2. Each Team member will create a treasury every month that includes at least 3 of the other members’ items.
3. Each member will contribute to the blog at least once a month.
4. Each member will promote all other Team members through the Etsy Forums.
5. Each member will promote another Team member through Twitter and blogs.
6. Each member will participate in at least 80% of the member meetings.
7. Etsy Forum threads will be used to communicate to the whole Team. In special cases, when mass email is necessary, Team member will communicate the info to Team lead to be forwarded to the membership list.
8. The Team will trust and respect each other.
9. Have fun.

“While I was slowly becoming a little more active in the Etsy Forums I was looking for a more personal connection to other Etsians, as well as a way to network locally. RI Handmade gave me the opportunity I was looking for,” says Liz from ItsAllInTheBag01. “Despite being a little nervous when I first went to meet the Team, I had a wonderful time, and I am thrilled that I have found such amazing talented and supportive women to work with. I think the standards that the Team sets, for members individually, as well as for the whole, help push us to constantly work together and to improve ourselves and the Team.”

The Team then took Etsy’s Team Tips as a starting point and created different committees, sub-committees and roles and responsibilities:

1. Team Lead
2. Secretary
3. Treasurer
4. Art and Marketing Committee
5. Communication and Networking Committee (Blog Manager, Event Planner)
6. Community Outreach Committee

Photo of Liz by Danielle Maziarz 

“I have been actively involved in art since 1996 and have had two Etsy shops since 2008,” says Hilal, the owner of NewMoonStudio handmade ceramics and NewMoonCrochet. “I am the Art Advisor of our Team. I am responsible for creating the marketing materials such as postcard/business card designs, banners, avatars, etc. I am also the Treasurer, and as such am responsible for collecting necessary expenses for our Team’s activities, such as arts and crafts shows and advertisement. Having clear roles within our Team makes us work in greater harmony. It is such a great honor to be part of this wonderful Team.”

Sema, the owner of three shops on Etsy (Floweredsky, FloweredSkybeads and HouseJewels), manages the Team’s blog. “Even though we have distinct roles within our Team, we think and work collectively to succeed. Our blog greatly reflects our collaboration as a Team. I had an idea to use the birthstones, their colors, and geographical locations as a theme in our blog. Weekly, Team members give me input using their backgrounds and creativity, which has been attracting visitors to the blog. My motto is ‘Keep it simple, get the work done and have fun.'”

Photo of Hilal taken by her husband, Justin

“Norming” stage is when the Team starts to work well together. Often the Team bounces back and forth between the Storming and Norming stages. Moving out of Storming depends on the Team’s maturity. This is also when Team members start to give each other constructive criticism without withholding information. Our Team is a great example for this stage, as we respect each others’ opinions and value their differences. We establish trust and respect. We encourage diversity of thoughts and perspectives. We give each other feedback on Etsy shop pictures, on blog posts, and on our commitment to Team standards without fear.

Photo of Sema taken by her husband, Baris

Our Team worked to set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-bound) for 2010 for each committee to fulfill their mission.

1. Create a list of local arts and craft shows to be displayed on our blog.
2. Create a list of local individuals, companies, and businesses that will help us spread the word!
3. Identify at least one non-profit organization.
4. Coordinate a fundraiser.
5. Coordinate at least two Team events.
6. Create promotional post cards.

Team photo from Ceylan

I am very happy with the progress we’ve made so far! It’s only four months into 2010 and we have already started working on all of our goals. Becoming a high performing Team is what RI Handmade strives to be — a Team where members become interdependent and individuals begin using “we” more than “me” or “I.”  Since our inception in August 2009 the Team had great success as a result of developing a solid foundation. We are very excited about expanding our membership and are always looking for new committed members. This year our goal is to build our internal business while making an impact in the community, and we also have a grand vision toward the future.

Photo of Ceylan taken by her husband, Cenk

Thanks, Ceylan, for those awesome tips on community organization. Check out other Etsy Teams and choose one to join or start your own!

How does your Team organize and conquer? Let us know in the comments!

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  • LaurenBPhotography

    LaurenBPhotography said 9 years ago

    Very inspiring for any team. Great ideas for promoting team members. Going to pass this along to my Eastern Washington Team (easternwateam)

  • LaurenBPhotography

    LaurenBPhotography said 9 years ago

    Very inspiring for any Etsy Team. I love your ideas for promoting team members. Going to pass this blog post along to my team The Eastern Washington Team (easterwateam)

  • Radness

    Radness said 9 years ago

    mann... i need to start an etsy team :)

  • undermyfeet

    undermyfeet said 9 years ago

    WOW you guys really are on the right track. Great team building skills.. thumbs up!

  • papercutworks

    papercutworks said 9 years ago

    My etsy team etsyRAIN! put on a wonderful craft show last Saturday! It gave me an opportunity to meet my fellow team members, admire their beautiful handmade items in person & shop for very unique gifts. They really are a wonderful group of mutually supportive crafters - hope everyone joins their local team!

  • maomaokitty

    maomaokitty said 9 years ago

    Way to take it to the next level! Support and encouragement are something we could all use a little more of :)

  • InventingLiz

    InventingLiz said 9 years ago

    Wow, this makes me want to move to Rhode Island so I can join this team! Great job!

  • moonstr

    moonstr said 9 years ago

    so cool:)

  • martice

    martice said 9 years ago

    YUM meze menu!

  • Floreal

    Floreal said 9 years ago

    Very inspiring..:)

  • SimpleJoysPaperie

    SimpleJoysPaperie said 9 years ago

    Thank you for sharing this inspiring and informative story. Teams are wonderful in many ways, not only do they help each member's shop success, but you can form some great friendships through teams. :)

  • supplier

    supplier said 9 years ago

    wow congrats my dear friends

  • 1dream

    1dream said 9 years ago

    amazing..Congrats friends..All the best things for you...

  • meltemsem

    meltemsem said 9 years ago

    Wonderful team tips and great article. They are very talented artists and lovely friends of mine:) Congrats all:)

  • bylynnkrestel

    bylynnkrestel said 9 years ago

    our vancouver etsy street team meets up for coffee, talk and idea sharing meetings! always great to get together and gab with someone who speaks 'etsy'!!

  • SeaFindDesigns

    SeaFindDesigns said 9 years ago

    WTG RI!!!! Talented bunch of peeps!! Congrats!!

  • IrinaArtSmi

    IrinaArtSmi said 9 years ago

    Wonderful !!!

  • HelloShoes

    HelloShoes said 9 years ago

    Nice Read :)

  • brianarose

    brianarose said 9 years ago

    Freakin sweet!

  • cookieletta

    cookieletta said 9 years ago

    Congrats girlies :-))

  • Ebruk

    Ebruk said 9 years ago

    Great article, Congrats

  • BambuEarth

    BambuEarth said 9 years ago

    Love it!!

  • saintesmariesjewelry

    saintesmariesjewelry said 9 years ago

    congratulations! wonderful article


    SARASAAVEDRA said 9 years ago


  • dreamyvintage

    dreamyvintage said 9 years ago

    Amazing artists, wonderful shops! Congratulations :)

  • StyleKnitting

    StyleKnitting said 9 years ago

    Wonderful :))Congratulations!

  • beadworkbyamanda

    beadworkbyamanda said 9 years ago

    Sounds great- very inspiring. I'm a member of the RNEST (Rochester NY etsy street team) which is still fairly new and we're just getting comfortable with each other and our roles. We've already had two successful craft shows but definitely need more group "fun" events! The RI team provides some excellent ideas for local teams.

  • selecta6

    selecta6 said 9 years ago

    Very cute.

  • bedbuggs

    bedbuggs said 9 years ago

    very inspiring....thanks for sharing!

  • filofashion

    filofashion said 9 years ago

    Great article !!Congrats friends :)))

  • anticovalore

    anticovalore said 9 years ago

    inspiring and amazing, thank you!

  • ExQuisiteInVitation

    ExQuisiteInVitation said 9 years ago

    Keep up the good work!

  • Carlottavaldes

    Carlottavaldes said 9 years ago

    I would love to join a team like yours. I am inspired to look for one in the Seattle , WA area. I think this is a Genius idea!

  • kpersonboutique

    kpersonboutique said 9 years ago

    great and inspiring article! thank you!

  • toosis

    toosis said 9 years ago

    wow these girls are talented. I have a quite few favorites there... thank you for sharing.

  • kpersonboutique

    kpersonboutique said 9 years ago

    great and inspiring article! Thank you!

  • toosis

    toosis said 9 years ago

    Lovely article. Great tips thank you for sharing

  • ShebboDesign

    ShebboDesign said 9 years ago

    Thanks dear Ceylan:) and Morgan for this lovely article! Very inspiring for any Etsy Team!

  • TotoloStudio

    TotoloStudio said 9 years ago

    beautiful work!

  • DevineDesignStudios

    DevineDesignStudios said 9 years ago

    Thank-you for such a clearly outlined strategy for team building, networking and ultimate success. I see creativity throughout this team endeavor from start to present. Wonderful work, beautiful craftsmanship, professional fun strategy!!!! A+A+A+

  • CarlaLovato

    CarlaLovato said 9 years ago

    Great article-- thanks!

  • pileofstones

    pileofstones said 9 years ago

    I love step-by-step suggestions. Thanks for sharing!

  • BululuStudio

    BululuStudio said 9 years ago

    Teams rock! Excellent tips.

  • KathyGDesigns

    KathyGDesigns said 9 years ago

    Sounds like a well organized team who are supportive of each other.

  • artofjane

    artofjane said 9 years ago

    Great ideas.

  • katiefenwick

    katiefenwick said 9 years ago

    Thanks for the great article. I'll have to share this with my Etsy group!

  • Khalliahdesign

    Khalliahdesign said 9 years ago

    Love it! :)

  • DoBatsEatCats

    DoBatsEatCats said 9 years ago

    Great article. I like how you all have clear standards for how team members are supposed to promote one another. I see a lot of ideas that could be adapted for the teams I'm on!

  • carlossantiago

    carlossantiago said 9 years ago

    wow! any of this coming to Boston any time soon? I would love to be part of it. PARK

  • BonTons

    BonTons said 9 years ago

    Great Team work! Great ideas

  • maryvican

    maryvican said 9 years ago

    Wow, awesome to see this group from my home state of Rhode Island! (and home town of EG!) I already am familiar with some of your work. You go, ladies!!

  • inkadinkadoodle

    inkadinkadoodle said 9 years ago

    Great job ladies! Keep up the great work.

  • papergirlstudios

    papergirlstudios said 9 years ago

    So great to see people working together and supporting eachother. Way to go RI!

  • sean11

    sean11 said 9 years ago

    Hey, looks like that pic of Hilal was taken at the Roger Williams Park Botanical Center. Great place! Totally makes you want to jump!

  • imakecutestuff

    imakecutestuff said 9 years ago

    Yay for RI Handmade - Seattle EtsyRAIN's "sister" street team! EtsyRAIN *hearts* RI! :)

  • recycledwares

    recycledwares said 9 years ago

    I just joined the Etsy Recyclers Guild team this week and am so excited about participation. Will be fun to get to know people with the same mission as me, recycling. :))

  • sweetnaturedesigns

    sweetnaturedesigns said 9 years ago

    My team in Seattle is Team EtsyRAIN. I want to give a shout out and a HUGE thank you to all the team leaders for ALL their hard work! They are awesome!

  • bellasparty

    bellasparty said 9 years ago

    Awesome job!

  • Iovelycrochet

    Iovelycrochet said 9 years ago

    wow congrats my dear friends...i´m so proud of you all !

  • diligent

    diligent said 9 years ago

    Great!Lovely Article!Congrats!

  • HornCatCreations

    HornCatCreations said 9 years ago

    I love my team! It was the best thing I ever did to improve my Etsy shop

  • bysweetmom

    bysweetmom said 9 years ago

    great article and team:)) congrats and thanks for sharing...

  • moonangelnay

    moonangelnay said 9 years ago

    Lovely article!

  • NewMoonStudio

    NewMoonStudio said 9 years ago

    Morgan, thank you so much for this great article and for giving this opportunity to share our Team mission with other great Etsy teams. So happy to see all the wonderful comments. Thank you all very much. Sean11, you are right. I was jumping at the Botanical garden. Love that place!! Hilal

  • SmilingGirlStudio

    SmilingGirlStudio said 9 years ago

    Every bit of advice is so much appreciated by those of us still working on getting our name "out there"!! Thanks so much for sharing.

  • goingplaces2

    goingplaces2 said 9 years ago

    What great ideas,RH Handmade. I read a quote today by Ed Zore - CEO of a Life Insurance Company. He said "When we grow together, we grow stronger". We can certainly adopt that concept by forming more small communities of Etsy members. There are so many empty store fronts sitting on our Main Streets. It would be wonderful to utilize them. Let's organize!

  • SilverSistersStudio

    SilverSistersStudio said 9 years ago

    I have to agree, teams can make such a huge difference to your etsy experience. Finding a team is always my first advice to newbies on etsy.

  • gogovintage

    gogovintage said 9 years ago

    Very inspiring. As community minded people. We need to find a team that we can be active in. Thank you, gogo v

  • julessabjewelry

    julessabjewelry said 9 years ago

    Morgan, thanks for sharing the process with us. We don't always realize how much work goes into these teams! I love the thorn pottery you selected as well!

  • LindenLeafStudio

    LindenLeafStudio said 9 years ago

    Great article! Etsy Austin team in Texas has similar goals and team development. If you can join or start a Team in your town, do it - it's a terrific way to network, sell and be a part of your community!

  • Floweredsky

    Floweredsky said 9 years ago

    Dear Morgan, Thank you very much for featuring our group and giving us the opportunity to introduce my team members with our team missions. Very grateful and honored to read all the comments also. THANK YOU ALL!!! Sema

  • woolsolution

    woolsolution said 9 years ago

    Kudos to RI Etsy team! Thank you, Morgan, for this article, Hope we will see more articles about other Etsy teams! My guess - HVNY team will be next :). I've just launched the team's promo clip on Youtube. Everybody welcome to see it!

  • pentopaper123

    pentopaper123 said 9 years ago

    Great information.Thank you!

  • ArtWhims

    ArtWhims said 9 years ago

    A great article! And as a co-leader to an up and coming local team (Footprints: Greater Tacoma Artist Guild) very inspiring and informative! I wish each of your team members the best with your Etsy pursuits! Keep being creative!

  • RosemaryManufacture

    RosemaryManufacture said 9 years ago

    Very inspiring :) Good luck, guys!

  • missusD

    missusD said 9 years ago

    Thanks!! This is really inspiring me to dream big about our team and I really hope we can have a team event like this! from a member of the German Street Team

  • SweetNumber

    SweetNumber said 9 years ago

    Great article! Thanks!

  • sabahnur

    sabahnur said 9 years ago

    very talented artists in a group! it rocks! congrats friends:)

  • JoJoBell

    JoJoBell said 9 years ago

    What an awsome team!

  • LuluTales

    LuluTales said 9 years ago

    Great article. I'm rather a new on etsy and had never heard of teams before. Wonderful concept and I love the stages.

  • DeborahJulian

    DeborahJulian said 9 years ago

    Terrific article about a dynamic team!

  • TheJoyofColor

    TheJoyofColor said 9 years ago

    Thank you so much Ceylan for the inspirational article. That is one of the thing i like about Etsy, the companionship with other artists,

  • lterrill9

    lterrill9 said 9 years ago

    Great article about teams, I am a member of Hearts and Hands United, HHU Team. Love inspirational stories like this, fantastic team pointers!

  • alienlabel

    alienlabel said 9 years ago

    I agree, the collaboration of various creative people and the sharing of ideas is one of etsy's great strengths.

  • Jtrescott

    Jtrescott said 9 years ago

    Nice article, nice to see folks out there networking!

  • VeryCarey

    VeryCarey said 9 years ago

    I'll reference this article many times, it's so informative in easy to understand principles. Thank you!

  • Furiousdreams

    Furiousdreams said 9 years ago

    Isn't this a better model than Walmart? I love the idea that a small group of artisans can collaborate to promote each other and work together on the concept of locally made, locally grown. Great article and best wishes for much continued success!

  • pasin

    pasin said 9 years ago

    Wonderful article

  • iloveprisims

    iloveprisims said 9 years ago

    Thank- you Ceylan for sharing your tips and examples on starting a team. While brainstorming as a team the ideas that a group of creative individuals can bring to life sounds very exciting. We are starting a group in the WNY area and your tips will come in handy!

  • VibrantTrains

    VibrantTrains said 9 years ago

    very cool.

  • teepetals

    teepetals said 9 years ago

    Love this article! Thanks for sharing this.

  • gnormyle

    gnormyle said 9 years ago

    This is a very nice article. It shows us how much you have to do as a team. Thanks so very much for sharing.

  • SerendipiT

    SerendipiT said 9 years ago

    This was very informative and perfect for sharing with my team. I think that we are now in the stages where it is time to start thinking about adding structure and opportunity for all team members and this will be an excellent guide and conversation starter. Thanks!

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