The Craft Entrepreneurship program (Etsy’s classes for helping underemployed populations turn making skills into supplemental income) is continuing to grow with the addition of three new partnerships this summer, including our first international program! Our new partners in Albuquerque, NM, Oldham, UK, and St. Petersburg, FL will bring this micro-enterprise training to creative individuals in their communities eager to learn how to sell their handmade products online.
In New Mexico, we’ve partnered with the Women’s Economic Self Sufficiency Team Corps (WESST), a non-profit organization committed to growing New Mexico’s economy by cultivating entrepreneurship. Known for its vibrant Southwestern and Native American cultural traditions, Albuquerque is home to a thriving community of artists and craftspeople. WESST plans to use this program to provide Albuquerque’s underserved artisans with the tools they need to find new channels for their work online. For many of these creative entrepreneurs, “access to markets is a critical component for creating sustainable businesses” explains Julianna Silva, Albuquerque Regional Manager of WESST. “By working with Etsy, we’ll be able to help our clients learn another tool for starting and growing their business and enhancing the economic vitality of our community.”
In England, we’re partnering with Oldham Council and College to make classes available in this northern English town with a long history of textile production and craftsmanship. At one point a crucial center of cotton spinning and hat production, Oldham has seen many of its mills fall into decline. This manufacturing past remains an important part of the town’s culture however, and factory-related employment still retains a significant presence. Through our partnership in Oldham, the Craft Entrepreneurship training will be offered to adult students who are honing their skills in textile production at Oldham College. Jim McMahon, Oldham Council Leader explained, “We’re determined to support residents who want to … go for an opportunity that could be the start of something really positive, and we want to work together with [Etsy] to unleash that creative entrepreneurial spirit.” Etsy seller Nicola Rowlands of the nearby Etsy Manchester Team will be teaching participants in Oldham. “Running a small business is no small feat and requires determination, creativity … and a lot of trial and error,” she said. “I’m excited about getting involved and meeting the students. Passing on knowledge is a hugely satisfying thing to do.”
St. Petersburg, FL
The St. Pete Greenhouse, an organization that strives to make it easier to start and grow businesses in this coastal city, is seeking to provide programming that will help residents turn their craft talents into entrepreneurial endeavors. With its picturesque beaches and warm weather, St. Petersburg’s economy is heavily anchored in tourism. Sean Kennedy, Manager of the Greenhouse, wants to help local artists and makers generate income in other markets and jump-start their businesses. Julie Richarme, Captain of the Tampa Bay Etsy Crew, believes residents stand to benefit from the classes because “this area is a magnet for creative people, and St. Pete has always had a strong arts community. Everyone is so eager to help each other out, and people really value handmade down here.”
Over 150 people have completed the Craft Entrepreneurship program to date, including ambitious makers who graduated from a class offered through SBS in NYC last week. The stories from these talented makers are an inspiration and source of motivation to continue to share the program with more cities around the world. Originally from Malaysia, recent Craft Entrepreneurship grad and Brooklyn-based artist Yolim Khoo, explained that with his background in carpentry and metalwork, he’d always wanted to start selling his own products but was unsure about how to get started. Tracey Hamilton, a fiber artist in the Bronx, explains, “The classes enabled me to fine-tune my shop, and in May I achieved my first sale! It was a real boost to my artistic ego.”
As always, if you are an Etsy team or community organization interested in bringing these classes to residents in your town, drop us a line here. Thank you to those who have already reached out!