Eco Entrepreneur Makes Green Through Etsy

by Susan Johnston on March 3, 2011
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Since Etsy.com’s launch in 2005, the online marketplace has been helping connect crafters and indie entrepreneurs with like-minded consumers. The site also maintains an active Twitter presence (@Etsy). While Etsy embraces crafters and artists of all kinds, eco-friendly or upcycled items have proven particularly popular.

“We’re obviously big fans of anything that’s eco-friendly,” says Adam Brown, an Etsy spokesperson. “We highlight [selected eco-friendly products] through our blog posts and our email lists.”

Akiko Oguchi uses Etsy to promote 5th Season, her Portland, Oregon-based line of upcycled handbags, and when her products were recently featured on Etsy’s homepage, she noticed a huge spike in interest. “I checked my shop and had over 1,000 more views, about 100 new “hearts” (the same as “liking” something on Facebook), orders, interviews… all within that hour!” she says.

Oguchi began using Etsy a few months ago and says it simplifies transactions for the seller and the customer. But for her, the biggest benefit has been the chance to learn from the Etsy community. “They have a great blog and forums where you can ask all sorts of questions. Within minutes people will be answering them,” she explains.

Etsy also offers teams, self-organized groups of Etsy sellers around geography or common interests like upcycling or eco-friendly crafting. Brown encourages crafters to join teams, because “from a business perspective, it’s a great way to get advice from other people working in your field.”

Oguchi estimates that she’s joined around 20 teams so far. “There’s one specifically for Portland, which I like because I can actually interact with people outside of the Etsy website,” she adds. “We have monthly meetups where we get together and discuss how to price things or how to use different tools and applications on Etsy.”

Etsy’s Shop Local function also allows customers to search for crafters in their geographic area so they can reduce their carbon footprint by picking up the item instead of having it shipped.

“It’s a wonderful community,” says Oguchi. “I love the fact that everybody one there is so open and supportive. It feels like we’re headed for a joint goal of responsible consuming.”

Susan Johnston is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.

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