Over the last few months, we’ve been on a journey to better understand what it means to “create an Etsy Economy,” after Mayor Morrissey of Rockford, Illinois put this challenge to us in March. Thank you for following along with us as we learned about the economic challenges in Rockford with the mayor and local Etsy team, committed to launch a Craft Entrepreneurship program in response to these challenges in Rockford and beyond at the Clinton Global Initiative, and got to know the Rockford community better at Craft Party.
After a huge effort that connected Etsy, city governments, Etsy teams, and local communities, we are now launching a Craft Entrepreneurship Program that we’ve created together. Last week, Rockford Etsy Team member Chris began teaching residents in the Rockford Housing Authority how to use their craft skills to build a business and earn income. Our Seller Education team worked with the Housing Authority to develop a four-week curriculum covering topics from business finance to marketing, using Etsy as a live learning lab.
In Chris’s class, there are men and women with skills including woodworking, jewelry making, photography, stationery, and more. We’ve looked at baseline levels of personal income, purchasing power, confidence, and well-being, and will be measuring the success of the program against the movement in these metrics over time. This is not just about creating new Etsy shops, it’s about creating entrepreneurs.
Today, one week after our kick-off with Rockford, we are also rolling out the program in New York City! After learning about our initiative in Rockford, the Deputy Mayor’s office for Economic Development reached out to us to brainstorm areas of economic need in New York where the Craft Entrepreneurship Program could have an impact. From there, we began working with the Department of Small Business Services to serve New Yorkers who are underemployed or, in other words, employed but with income that is not enough to meet their needs. We believe that for those with craft skills, the Craft Entrepreneurship program will create an opportunity for earning vital supplemental income. We’re kicking off with 3 classes and about 60 students in Brooklyn and Queens taught by three incredible members of the Etsy NY Team.
Launching this program with both Rockford and New York City has shown us that cities big and small face similar challenges in creating economic opportunity for unemployed and underemployed residents. Working in two cities with very different populations, resources, and histories makes us hopeful that we can help develop a curriculum that’s versatile and scalable.
We’re looking forward to sharing more about the program, the stories of the participants, and the results as we go. We’re going in with an open mind, eager to learn and iterate. You can find out more and follow the story here.
The third portion of our commitment is to make the curriculum and process of the Craft Entrepreneurship Program available for any community anywhere to use. After learning from our first round of pilot programs in Rockford and New York, we’ll start sharing these resources. We already have a few more iterations in the works (look out for an announcement about our work in some non-US cities and even a version of the program in schools!), and are eager to work with more communities in the future. This is truly a personal collaboration, and we couldn’t do it without the Rockford Etsy Team, the Etsy NY Team, and inspiration and real-life lessons from Etsy sellers around the world — thank you!