Etsy community — I’d like to officially introduce myself. I’m Heather Jassy, and I’m Director of Community and Support Operations at Etsy. I work with the Admin teams that directly support you (Support, Forums, Seller Education, Seller Events and Teams). For the last eight months, I’ve been lurking in the Forums, talking to sellers, and reading your emails to support in an effort to understand what we can do to better provide you with the service you need to run your business or to shop on Etsy. I want to tell you a bit about our team and give you some updates on our progress.
I feel honored to work for my favorite website, and to work on behalf of our incredible community. I’ve been self-employed for the vast majority of my adult life (I owned an independent bookstore, and, later, was a therapist with a coaching focus on entrepeneurs launching creative businesses). To say that I believe deeply in what our community is doing and what Etsy is building is a drastic understatement.
One of the most difficult things about entrepreneurship was, for me, the isolation. It’s so awesome to be completely on your own, free to define your own path. But the “completely on your own” part can be tough when it comes to getting help, or sparking ideas when you’re stuck or uninspired. That’s what’s so amazing about Etsy. I love the way that members of the Etsy community mentor and teach one another, share tips, and provide support in Teams or in the Forums. Claire, an Etsy Admin who plans community events, got this feedback from a Craft Party facilitator, and it really describes the spirit of support we are lucky enough to witness on a daily basis:
“I was really moved to see so many people being kind and nice to one another and helping total strangers. The amount of trust and compassion I saw that night was probably greater then any type of meditation retreat or any other so-called spiritual event I’ve ever attended. I know the word ‘community’ is being tossed around these days anytime people speak about a group of people. But with the Craft Party, I really felt so fortunate to be a part of the craft community.” — Aya Rosen of Louche Lab
Any, one of our Forums moderators, sees this happen in the Forums as well:
“I get to watch support systems be born from connections made around a common craft, common talents, and the common goal of building an independent creative business. This one time, a seller posted in the Forums about her difficulty finding supplies for her craft in the area where she lived. Several other sellers offered to check their local craft stores, and within a few hours they were making arrangements to buy the supplies and mail them to her. “
Chris, a Supporter in our Hudson office, describes it this way:
“The people are the best part of my job. I’ve never worked with a more inspiring group of people, both Etsy members and employees. Everyone has the bigger picture in mind and they have so many things they are doing to try and make a difference in their own lives and the lives of others. It’s great to be a part of the Etsy community, it’s the absolute best perk of this job.”
Our Support and Community Ops Admin — many sellers themselves — seek to be another source of support for our community: answering questions via email, Twitter, or in the Forums, solving problems, meeting you at events, writing educational articles, facilitating educational events online and offline, supporting teams, and bringing community voices and concerns to everything we do as a company.
Michelle, one of our Brooklyn Supporters, says this:
“Having been unexpectedly laid off from my previous position at a large financial institution, I was able to turn my love of vintage into a full-time gig on Etsy. I’m one of those Etsy-changed-my-life sellers, so when I moved to NY from LA three years ago I knew I had to work for Etsy and give back to the community. What I love most about my job is being able to connect with sellers on the same level — I was once a new seller who struggled with establishing a brand, I know firsthand how much hard work is put into running a shop, and I can empathize with sellers complaining of new changes. When I’m not working at Etsy I’m working on my shop — I can’t imagine not doing this and not helping others do the same. “
I want to update you on some improvements we’re making in Community and Support Ops at Etsy — while acknowledging that we still have a long way to go. This year, we’ve added support for payments and shipping, and we’ve nearly tripled the size of our support office in Hudson, NY. We’ve drastically improved our support turnaround time so that we can resolve your problems faster, and added a dedicated Etsy Twitter channel for answering support questions in real time (@EtsyHelp). Back in May we started regularly surveying folks who write support so that we could hear how we’re doing and act on the feedback you give us.
This year, we officially launched a program called Community Connection, which is all about keeping our Admin close to our community — and their concerns — as Etsy continues to grow. As part of this program, everyone in the company works shifts in customer support (fun fact: 15% of our holiday support email was answered by non-Customer Support Admin, and the week after Hurricane Sandy, when a number of our Supporters were without power, our tech team around the globe jumped in to answer a whopping 20% of our email to keep our community getting answers quickly), and members of our tech and product team are regularly visiting the studios of Etsy sellers to understand how you work and what tools you need to run your businesses.
Many of you know Admin Cheyne, Morgan, and Kim (pictured at top), who work directly with our Etsy Teams. This year, they’ve expanded the Teams program, giving out even more support and resources through the Fellowship Program, meeting with team captains, and recognizing exceptional teams via our Team Spirit Award.
We launched a new Help experience back in October to make it easier for you to find info when you need it, and we’ve added more videos and visual content to our FAQs. In November, we began randomly surveying Etsy buyers and sellers for feedback on how Etsy — the site — is doing. We’re asking you what features you love, what features bug you, and how we can improve. The best way you can help us is to give us honest feedback on how we can help you be successful. Be brutally honest. We can take it, and we want to hear it so that we can get better.
Here’s what I’ve learned: when people have a vision of what they want and have adequate support, they can move mountains. They can change the economy. They can do things that seem impossible. They can defy the logic that says that you have to work a 9-5 job, or that you can’t spend all day doing what you love, or that making art has to be a hobby. They can control their financial destinies. Most of all, I’ve learned that you can be an artist and a businessperson, and you don’t have to choose. I believe that artists make the most extraordinary business people, because we see the world holistically. We can think of creative ways to solve problems, and we bring our whole self to our work. I want my daughter to be able to choose fulfilling work that gives her joy, and that’s why I work at Etsy.
Thanks for everything you do. You are changing the world, and you rock.