Etsy Grows Up
Once the domain of hobbyists, the e-commerce site matures, especially in Portland.
On a summer day in 2005, the crafty e-commerce site Etsy launched with a collection of handmade products, most of them the kitschy things you’d find at a local arts-and-crafts sale. Think flamingo-print cosmetic bags and acrylic paintings of sheep on wood. (Really, those were among the first items sold on Etsy.)
Today the site boasts more than 17 million products from 800,000 sellers, netting more than $700 million in sales in 2012. Etsy has officially grown up—especially in Portland, which boasts 3,300 sellers and more than 115,000 products.
But more impressive than the numbers is the quality of local craftsmanship: Many of Etsy’s Portland products would look at home in high-end shops like Woonwinkel and Relish. In fact some of them are in Woonwinkel and Relish. Some vendors, like accessory designer Betsy and Iya, have met with such success they’ve moved on to their own brick-and-mortar shops. Others have launched online storefronts. Exhibit A: bridal designer Claire La Faye, who still has a presence on Etsy, now sells made-to-order gowns with price tags in the thousands through her site clairelafaye.com.
As Etsy approaches its eighth birthday, we figured it was time to turn our gaze to the local creators making the site work in an adult way. Here are seven of our favorites. We also have interviews with three of these prominent Etsy entrepreneurs.
Port Rhombus Floating Wall Shelf, $40
Etsy store: portrhombus
Ikea cool meets Portland craft in these floating shelves from Port Rhombus designer Matt Kennedy, who also serves as one half of local studio Digital Craft, which creates modern furniture and desk accessories.
Fix Studio Lovejoy Bowl Pendant Light Fixture, $345
Etsy store: fixstudio
You’ll find Fix Studio’s sleek interior design pieces at Clarklewis, Bamboo Sushi, and Visage Eyewear, as well as in hundreds of homes.
Pigeon Toe Ceramics Stacking Thimble Cups, $42
Etsy store: pigeontoeceramics
ReadyMade, Sunset, and the Wall Street Journal all have taken note of Pigeon Toe’s line of fine crafted ceramics, which you can also find at Tilde, Red Sail, and Palace.
Raven’s Refuge Platinum and Rose Gold Classic Domed Wedding Ring, from $2,488
Etsy store: ravensrefuge
Eight years ago, we wouldn’t have paid two grand for all of Etsy’s products, never mind a single ring. But that was before goldsmith and gemsetter Dan Palmer started selling his hand-forged bands from platinum, palladium, and yellow, white, and rose gold, using conflict-free stones to finish the Old World–style rings.
Anderson Soap Company Masala Chai Olive Oil Soap Bar, $6
Etsy store: andersonsoapcompany
With more than 45,000 sales, Dennis Anderson shows that the online retail site doesn’t have to operate just as a side hobby. Jobless five years ago when he launched his Etsy storefront, Anderson recently bought a home with his earnings from the site.
Anna Joyce Hand-Printed Winter Triangles Place Mats, $66 for set of six
Etsy store: annajoyce
Even Martha Stewart would approve of Joyce’s screen-printed table sets. In fact, she already does: the queen of home chic included them in her 2012 holiday gift guide.
Liza Rietz Ruffle Dress, $320
Etsy store: lizarietz
You can buy off-the-rack designs by Rietz in her Northwest boutique—or, like many of her largely 40-something clientele, custom order them to fit you perfectly through Etsy.