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Wednesday August 20, 2014

Etsy Encounters Issues with “Handmade” Items

Image representing Etsy as depicted in CrunchBase

Image via CrunchBase

Brooklyn-based website Etsy is celebrating its seven-year anniversary next month. The website, according to BetaBeat has more than 875,000 virtual shops and new ones that appear every day. The company recently announced a $40 million round of funding, which totals outside investment at $90 million, and brings Etsy’s valuation to about $600 million.

There has been trouble with some of Etsy’s products, however, as the site grows, items and sellers are straying from the original DIY concept that inspired the site. BetaBeat reported that Etsy shoppers have been coming across factory made items. An example given is a blog called Regretsy, created by comedian April Winchell, that had its own category for items on Etsy that were “not remotely handmade.” This blog drew attention to the non-original products that are opposed Etsy’s core idea.

This shift has been deterring old, loyal Etsy customers and fans. Sewon Chung, a photographer from Bed-Stuy who chose to write a college paper about the crafty site, told BetaBeat that, “I realized it is a corporate entity and it’s run like any other company. It’s not just a bunch of creative girls hanging around. I definitely don’t go on Etsy as much anymore. We’re all waiting for the next big thing to come out.”

In April, Etsy designer Mariana Schechter was selected as one of Etsy’s “Featured Sellers.” Schechter sold planters made from reclaimed boats at her online shop Ecologica Malibu. However, Regretsy immediately called this creator out for her products. Schechter had been importing wood from a wholesaler and had listed her items on Overstock.com. Not only that, but she had a team of eight workers helping her assemble the products, which technically made Schecter’s sales a business. This sparked Protesty, a walkout among Etsy designers in the name of genuine handmade items.

The Dos and Don’ts of Etsy are listed on the site, and set forth a list of rules about selling items on the site. Resellers can actually be considered to be operating within the rules of the site, Matt Stinchcomb, Etsy’s VP of marketing and brand told BetaBeat. Sitchcomb and Etsy have responded to the outrage over handmade versus not handmade by asking sellers to be more transparent about their products and how they are made. The company also re surged its Marketplace Integrity, Trust and Safety team which scours the site for violators. Though, there are still issues with grey area on what counts as handmade.

BetaBeat