FROM THE HORSE’S BLOWHOLE
If you read this site with any regularity, and really, why wouldn’t you, then you already know how I feel about Chad Dickerson, CEO of Etsy.
This weekend, however, I stumbled across the most satisfying Chadisode yet; a Wall Street Journal video interview called, “BOSS TALK.”
1. Multiple owls
2. Smelly hipster afghan
3. Paint-by-numbers wall mural
I’m going to be honest. This is my favorite part of the video.
Not pictured: upright piano and bear-shaped beanbag
Now, I worked in advertising for many years, and I was very good at it. I sold a lot of products and made my clients a lot of money. And I tell you this so that you’ll understand that I know bullshit when I hear it. In fact, I’m fluent in it. And Chad Dickerson is speaking my language.
Let’s take a look at this question posed by WSJ.
Now correct me if I’m wrong (not really), but are they saying that handmade is the problem?
It all makes sense now! It’s not the resellers that are hurting Etsy. It’s not the armies of people cranking out the same shit that are diluting the brand.
The problem is that you pesky handcrafters are hampering Etsy’s growth. And let me tell you, giant bear-shaped beanbags don’t grow on Meyer Lemon trees.
So how did Chad handle this question?
“The interesting thing about Etsy and handmade is handmade has always been an anchor for Etsy?”
In other words:
“But it’s not the only thing that’s ever been sold on Etsy, so, um, you know… the day Etsy launched, you could buy vintage items, which, you know, essentially are curated by, um… a single person or persons, so… um… I think…”
“You know, Hello Etsy, which was our, uh… conference in Berlin was about small businesses.”
“And we had all sorts of attendees there, but it wasn’t really focused on handmade. We even had a… uh… a butcher from southern Germany come to learn how to market and uh… you know… sort of run his butcher shop, so I think… the reality is Etsy has always been about the… the nature of the transaction?”
“So I think in the future, um, you’ll see, uh… as Etsy started out with vintage, you’ll see Etsy, you know… doing a lot more than handmade items, you know, made by an individual person.”
“But it’s always going to be important that the buyer knows exactly… you know… who is making what they’re buying and where it came from.”
“So it’s really a personal transaction that’s really important.”
Finally, Etsy’s vison of the future, laid out so everyone can understand.
At Etsy 2.0, handmade doesn’t matter anymore. What matters is that you buy it from a person, who is selling something at a profit that was made in a factory. How is this personal? How is this different from Hot Topic or Target, or even a swap meet?
It’s not. That’s really the crux of the whole thing. Etsy is no longer a handmade marketplace. They are Ebay.
And I’ll tell you how we got here.
From the moment Etsy put their first owl mug in their kitchen, they began brainwashing crafters into believing that handmade was important to everyone. And you know what? It’s just not. Most customers don’t want to pay 300% more for something because someone made it, especially when we’re talking about something that isn’t particularly special. And by encouraging marginally talented people to crank out unremarkable work, Etsy is now flooded with shit. Some of it is expensive shit, and some of it is cheap shit. Most people want cheap shit, and Etsy wants their money.
It’s not that you’re overpricing what you make (though that is also a problem when people have no concept of their abilities). It’s that you can’t make things as cheaply as factories do. And by allowing resellers into the marketplace, Etsy has set you up to compete with people who have a work force, and who are getting much cheaper prices for materials.
Why does that matter?
Well, let’s say you make handmade bags. Let’s say it takes you two weeks to make one and you price it at about $400. That’s a bit high for some people, but it’s not much for two weeks’ work. So you pay your listing fees and hope you get on the front page or in Etsy finds, or even a treasury, so that someone will see your bag and want it.
Now let’s say I want a bag like the bags you make. I come to Etsy, and I start searching. And right away, I see bags that are similar to yours, but are being sold for a fraction of the price. Which one do you think I’m going to buy? Even if handmade is important me, why would I think I’m not getting a handmade bag on a site that purports to be a handmade marketplace?
So the question really is, why doesn’t Etsy keep its promise? Why don’t they keep resellers off the site, instead of forcing you to compete with them?
Here’s the sad truth. Your two or three bracelets a week (if you’re lucky) won’t help Etsy grow like this single person or persons, who currently has 1,200 pieces listed in her shop and has made 20,000 sales in less than two years. But you lend enough cachet to the brand that they keep you around, and promise you anything to get you to stay. You are the bait, and $2 Taiwanese pocket watches are the switch.
Look at it this way. You are the paint-by-numbers waiting room with the owl lamp and the smelly afghan. And right through that door is an army of 12-year olds, making 10,000 wedding dresses a week.
- Click here to see the whole ratfuck