Etsy Craft Party was a particularly special event this year with 550 teams from around the world coming together to craft for their communities. I spent Craft Party with the Rockford Etsy Team who made embroidered and hand-painted merit badges with residents of the Rockford Housing Authority to show how crafting together can bring a community together. This team has made an ongoing commitment to support their community, partnering with Etsy and the City of Rockford to launch a Craft Entrepreneurship Curriculum in the Housing Authority and Public School System. Together, we are inspiring participants to see how they can turn their making skills into real income opportunities and laying a clear path toward entrepreneurship and economic empowerment.
Amazing things are not just happening in Rockford — hopefully you also saw Julie’s post on what some of the other Etsy teams did to support their communities during Craft Party and Morgan’s post on the Little Rock Team’s work with Kiva to get more micro-loans in their community. Get involved! If you are feeling inspired, here are some ideas for what you and your team might do to make an impact in your community. If you’re not yet a member of a team — fear not, it’s easy to get involved! Teams are at the heart of the Etsy community — they are self-organized groups of members who come together around a common purpose. You can browse all of the teams on Etsy, join, or start a new team here.
Bring Your Community Together
Craft Party doesn’t need to be the only day for bringing the community together around craft! Think about hosting a craft event for your area — teaching an element of your art or a fun, simple DIY activity. Maybe the goal is to bring together different parts of your community who don’t usually interact and could benefit from tighter bonds. You can also focus on bringing joy, laughter, and positivity to a group who needs it. Craft Party has shown us examples of bringing people together ranging from public housing residents to at-risk youth to hospital patients — think about the unique needs of your neighborhood. Nothing bonds people like hot glue! (pun intended).
The Pink Ponies team of Los Angeles have led crafting events in their community for over a year. When they’re not helping out with the Meet & Make program at the Craft & Folk Art Museum, they’re setting up on college campuses and local shops to gather folks together to explore their creativity and learn something new.
Support a Local Non-Profit
Find a non-profit that you think is making a positive impact on your community and shower them with some love. You can support them in their fundraising efforts by donating a percentage of your sales, donating items for a charity auction, or hosting an event where item or ticket sales benefit the organization. For example, the RebuildRecover Team brings sellers together who contribute a percentage of their sales to disaster relief. Is your shop already donating to a non-profit? Consider joining the Etsy Giving Prototype Team!
Helping is not just about giving money — it can also mean giving your skills. For example, consider donating handmade items to a non-profit that needs them or offering your design skills to help the organization spruce up their space or create great new marketing materials. The NECTAR (New England Crafters Team All Regions) Team made scarves and hats that they donated to area shelters via the United Way of New England in Boston. Thirty members came together to donate 300 heartfelt, handmade items that kept local children warm during the holidays.
Hopefully you’ve found a way to make money doing what you love on Etsy; consider supporting others to do the same. One option is to support organizations that facilitate small business loans. We recently partnered with Kiva, a non-profit organization that facilitates 0% interest loans to small businesses — your team can get involved by giving a loan to another creative entrepreneur on Kiva or by becoming a Trustee — vouching for an artisan and enabling them to receive a loan from another. Another option is to teach entrepreneurship in your community; think about identifying a community with existing craft skills and lack of business experience with whom you could share your story and advice about starting business. Soon we’ll release the curriculum that the Rockford Etsy Team is using so that you can replicate the program in your own neighborhood as well — stay tuned!