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Etsy Manufacturing Opens to Designers

Oct 22, 2015

by Stephanie Schacht

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

Last month we announced the next phase of responsible manufacturing at Etsy with the launch of our new marketplace, Etsy Manufacturing. We invited manufacturers — established manufacturing businesses and individual makers — to apply to join our marketplace and work with members of the Etsy seller community to build responsible partnerships.

Today we’re excited to launch the beta version of Etsy Manufacturing for Etsy designers to connect with the manufacturing community. During our 10 years of working with sellers, we’ve heard again and again that finding the right team to help expand a creative business is a real challenge. With manufacturing in particular, designers strive to build direct relationships with partners they can trust and who value their craft as much as they do.

We want to make this tough task easier. For whatever the business goal — to take on new wholesale accounts, to develop new product lines, or simply to give a one-woman shop more time to design — we’ve built Etsy Manufacturing as a resource to help make these personal dreams of Etsy designers more readily achievable.

We’ve also heard again and again the challenges that manufacturers face in finding artists and designers who value their expertise and want to develop long-term relationships. We’re thrilled to give the manufacturing community a straightforward, beautiful platform to market their businesses and connect with like-minded creative entrepreneurs.

During the beta phase, we’re focused on growing this community of manufacturing partners to meet the variety of production needs that Etsy designers encounter.

The Many Faces of Etsy Manufacturing

Since we’ve begun accepting applications, we’ve already received interest from more than 500 manufacturers, from our own backyard in Brooklyn to the wide open spaces of Montana to the suburbs of Ontario. The types of manufacturing businesses cover a wide range, from emerging startups to decades-old, family-run factories, and we are continuing to build this community.

Take Carrera Casting, for example. Original owners Joel Weiss and brothers Owen Schwartz and Eric Schwartz have been running Carrera since it was founded in 1975. They pride themselves on providing high-quality casting services to jewelers around the world, straight from the heart of New York’s diamond district. Carrera works closely with its clients to help produce their designs, lending a hand at any point during the casting process. “Casting equipment is expensive, dangerous, and the process is extremely time consuming—passing that off to someone else who you know is going to go a good job offers designers a lot of security, and frees them up to do other things,” says executive sales director Greg Falkner.

Inspecting products at Carerra Casting.

On the other end of the spectrum, Voodoo Manufacturing, a small 3D printing operation, was founded in May 2015 and consists of a four-person team in Brooklyn, NY, that focuses on efficiency, engineering and the environment. “I’ve known Etsy sellers in the past who were forced to do everything soup to nuts, but their core competency was on the design end. Their time would be better spent working on other designs, or spending time with their kids,” says Voodoo co-founder Patrick Deem. “We’re making something. We’re helping other people realize their dreams, and to me that’s something I’m proud to be part of.”

The team at Voodoo. From left to right: Max Friefeld, Patrick Deem, Jonathan Schwartz, Oliver Ortlieb.

We’re excited that many of the applications have come from Etsy sellers themselves. Sellers are no stranger to collaborating with other sellers, and we’ve heard over the years that many work together in a production capacity. For many sellers, it’s a natural extension of their existing making and craft skills, a chance to diversify income streams and outlets for creativity. Other sellers invest in expensive equipment that they lend out to others sellers or use it to do production work for others. Community between sellers has always been one of the most vibrant things about Etsy, and we’re thrilled this marketplace can help foster this ecosystem.

Sarah Mandell, the talented jeweler behind Once Again Sam, is one such seller. A lifelong artist, she always enjoyed working with her hands, but a career in interior design left her sitting at a computer for long stretches of the day. What started as a hobby making jewelry turned into a booming business, and in 2010 Sarah went part time at her day job to keep up with demand. In addition to making her own jewelry, Sarah enjoys helping other small business owners out with their production. When she heard about Etsy Manufacturing, she was eager to sign up. “I think it’s the perfect fit,” she says. “People who are already selling on Etsy get the community. We all understand what’s involved in each other’s businesses. Being able to offer our services to each other is just another way of collaborating and sharing in that community.”

Once Again Sam shop owner Sarah Mandell in her studio.

Once Again Sam shop owner Sarah Mandell in her studio.

Getting Started on Etsy Manufacturing

The beta Etsy Manufacturing marketplace we’re launching today is built on our experience working with designers and manufacturers. We heard repeatedly from both groups that they can find manufacturer names but that they had real trouble finding the “perfect match.” So, we designed the marketplace as a matching experience. A designer can input the range of criteria they are looking for — for example, someone who works in apparel production, specifically with natural fibers, anywhere in the state of New York — and see a list of matches that fit their criteria.

We have included the manufacturer’s industry of production, specific processes and capabilities, and location. In the current version of Etsy Manufacturing, manufacturers are available in four industries: apparel and textiles, jewelry and metalwork, printing, and machining and fabrication. The marketplace currently includes manufacturers based in the US and Canada. As the marketplace grows, we’ll consider adding other categories and regions. Manufacturers on Etsy Manufacturing are not vetted, but we do individually screen applicants for their fit with the four production categories and for in-house production, to encourage a better experience as designers begin their search.

Etsy designers are encouraged to get to know manufacturers more deeply through the photos, stories, and capabilities listed in their profiles. We designed the profile pages to give manufacturers a place to tell their story in their own words and include photography of their work samples and their facility. We’re also running a photography pilot for manufacturers to have their spaces photographed, courtesy of Etsy. To get the relationship off to a good start, Etsy designers can check out these tips for preparing their plans and reaching out to their selected manufacturers, which they can do via Etsy convos. (Etsy designers who choose to work with manufacturing partners, whether found on Etsy Manufacturing or elsewhere, must still apply and be approved by Etsy to do so.) There are no fees for the designers or manufacturers right now, though we hope to enable orders via Etsy Manufacturing in the future.

We’re excited to open this up to Etsy designers today. We’re just getting started and are looking forward to continuing to grow our manufacturer community. For more information, check out Etsy Manufacturing. We can’t wait to see the partnerships that designers and manufacturers build together!