Does anybody remember the seller, Three Bird Nest, who was featured on Huffington Post last year, with a story coined as the unbelievable journey of a stay-at-home mother who made almost one million dollars selling her handcrafted leg warmers and headbands on Etsy... "on a whim" ? And do you remember when we all found her boot cuffs on Zulilly for $14 or American flag scarves on Alibaba, sold by the case? And then, do you remember that time Etsy sellers totally flipped out because of the "handcrafted goods" press Etsy was receiving on the backs of these deceptive sales, encouraging the presence of mass-marketed goods on the platform?
Well, Three Bird Nest is back in the news with a tragic tail of woe.... Etsy has suspended thr shop for being "unable to demonstrate sufficient compliance with our policies.” Woah woah woah! Etsy addressed the issue of reselling on their site? And the world didn't come to an end?
Now, I must admit that I'm hesitant to believe this wasn't a publicity stunt from Three Bird Nest to generate interest in its stand-alone website and their "exploration of marketplaces that fit more in line with their core values", and the announcement of the split did, indeed, generate a bit of buzz online. Nor would I be surprised if Etsy didn't cut ties with this high-profile seller because of pressure placed on them by the community, as a whole, during a time when their new IPO seems to be drawing attention to their hypocrisy, and their image as a legitimate "handcrafted" marketplace has soured for many.
But I have to say this is a win for the micro business. Though the Three Bird Nest founder, Alicia Shaffer, states to Yahoo Makers in this recent article, that Etsy "has done little to defend her or Three Bird Nest" and support her company's growth and need to outsource production, the micro business community might be applauding Etsy's actions.
I hope, some day, every store is as successful as Shaffer's and grows beyond the confines of the Etsy platform. I hope Three Bird Nest continues to grow... but am encouraged that it wont be as part of the Etsy family. A platform founded on the (if not illusion then) nature of handmade, should support and protect the interests of the micro business owner who simply can't compete with companies who (allegedly) resell their products.
Let's be clear, the fault does not lie with Three Bird Nest. They sold what Etsy allowed them to sell. Etsy cheated the purists when it altered its policies to excuse the mass production already prevalent on their platform. But does this decision to cut ties, between Etsy and Three Bird Nest, signal a return to Etsy's original values, or was this move just the placating poster-child to win back alienated sellers? What do you think?
As the popularity of home and micro businesses rise, it's refreshing to see platforms give Etsy (once, and some may say still, considered the paragon of indie handmade business) a run for its money. And if any platform is equipped to pull it off, if for no other reason than the number of its sellers, Amazon would fit the bill. But the unanswered question remains: do we want it to? This summer, amidst constant discontent experienced by Etsy sellers, Amazon announced plans to open its own Handmade at Amazon marketplace featuring items defined, by Amazon, as "handmade by you (the artisan), by one of your employees (if your company has 20 or fewer employees), or a member of your collective with less than 100 people". Unfortunately, this definition, (mostly) shared by Etsy, has been the center of constant consternation between seller and platform as artists continue to list products created by cheap foreign labor, despite a ban on manufactured goods. Etsy couldn't police it, so there's no reason to assume Amazon can. Or will.
Let's take a look at Handmade at Amazon's features (as I currently understand them):
Though not ideal, with exceptionally high fees unfavorable to the micro business, Amazon may prove to be the competition needed to bring Etsy to heel. My review, however, is greatly limited by my interaction (or lack there of) with the platform, as the invitation and acceptance process is frustrating for those of us impatient folk. The details I've provided here are available directly from the Handmade at Amazon services page, and my opinion of these services is based only on my personal experience selling handcrafted goods on third-party platforms, in general. This platform still has plenty opportunity to prove itself as a viable resource for the micro business.
So, tell me... what are your thoughts on the new platform? If you are an Etsy seller, will you be ditching its much lower fees for the much wider Amazon audience?
UPDATE: I was recently given this interesting article, regarding SEO and the exploitation of sellers to generate more traffic within Amazon, even after sellers close their accounts. It was an interesting read. I'll be contacting Amazon regarding whether or not accounts will be deleted upon request, and sold items removed from the site (instead of coming up in search as "unavailable"). The last thing any of us want is do well, move to our own website, and then have to fight with our old presence on Amazon for searchability.
Okay. I don't just love these contests, I need them. I need the seriously crazy talent, the individual voice, the unique method of moving the layers to create an unbelievable finished piece of art. I need what you've all so generously given in order to reinvigorate my own creative process. As the contest progressed, I felt myself filling up with a really incredibly passion for wire wrapping. It was, in a word, inspiring.
View the GALLERY OF ENTRIES here.
I received 50 amazing entries and am reminded, as always, of the ability to transform a standard set of instruction into a representation of the artist. Ahem, 50 different artists, mind you. And as each entry arrived in my email, I wished I'd been the one to create it. I fell into each design so easily and wrapped myself in the natural pull towards the art of wire wrapping. You guys gave that to me, whether or not with intent, and I'm eternal grateful.
And now I bet your wondering who the winners are, right?
Well, the Group Favorite was voted on by each participant in the contest, who cast a single vote on another entry. And the winner of the Group Favorite is Olga Jones, who will win $25 payable via PayPal, my version of the "Finish It!" design, and three tutorials of her choice.
The Judged Favorite is chosen by a panel of 7 judges who are not participating in the contest.... myself included. These judges are wire wrappers and consumers, and were quite vocal in their choice. The Judged Favorite winner is Kay Newman, who will win $25 payable via PayPal and any three tutorials of her choice.
Winners, please contact me at email@example.com with either your physical address (for the Group Favorite) and PayPal email address.
I hope everyone will visit the gallery of entries and congratulate the winners and entrants for creating some truly masterful pieces of jewelry.
I should be having another design challenge (not a "Finish It!") in October, so keep an eye out for updates. I hope to see all of you artists enter in future contests. And thank you so much for filling my days with beauty!
Wow. There's honestly not a lot more that needs to be said regarding the content I received as entries into the July "Finish It!" Design Challenge, but I'm totally going to say more....
Just about 50 folks took it upon themselves to prove to me that designing is intrinsically personal, that you can all begin from the same technique, or series of techniques, and end up with completely original creations. Not just original, but Ah-May-Zing. And so many were new to weaving, which blows my mind. To say that I am lucky to have viewed these entries as they were submitted is an understatement, because I've had, in some cases, three weeks to ogle these fantastic creations and find my own artistic voice strengthened as a result.
And now it's time to share the entries with everyone! If you submitted an entry, but do not see it listed in the gallery, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your entry as soon as possible, and it will be added immediately upon receipt.
The gallery of entries will be available for viewing… well… indefinitely or, at the very least, until Pinterest falls into the dark abyss of the internet, at which point the images will (hopefully) be moved to another file sharing system.
View the GALLERY OF ENTRIES here.
The gallery of entries will be available for VOTING, however, through midnight, August 7, 2015. Voting is open only to those who participated in the contest. To vote, simply follow the link and comment “VOTED” beneath the image of your choice. One vote per participant only, please. If you are not a member of Pinterest or, for any reason, cannot comment, please email me your choice at email@example.com and I will vote on your behalf.
A note to non-participating viewers and commentators…. please reserve the term “VOTED” for participants only, to avoid confusion during the judging process, but do feel free to comment as a show of appreciation for the beautiful work submitted. These entries are worthy of the recognition they receive and then some.
On August 8, votes will be tallied and the “Group Favorite” (most voted by participants) will win my completed version of this project, any three tutorials of their choice, and $25, deliverable via PayPal. In the case of a tie, I will place the deciding vote.
Also, a “Judged Favorite”, chosen by a panel of four jewelry artists and three “consumers” (who are not participating in the contest), will also receive any three tutorials of their choice and $25 payable via PayPal
Every contestant should have receive the finished version of this tutorial as a thank you for his or her participation, within 24-48 hours upon submission of their entry. This was sent as a reply to your submission. If you have not received the tutorial, please check your spam folder. If you have trouble accessing the file, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you all so much! This has been an amazing experience, as always, to see the entries as they trickle into my email. I have looked forward to each entry over these last three weeks, and was continuously amazed by the creativity and craftmanship. You are amazing! I am already looking forward to the next contest (which will, ahem, hopefully be in October).
Happy weaving everyone!
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