Taking Online Sales Offline: Local Etsy Team Brings Handmade Wares into the Hands of Shoppers

 

I’ve been away from my blog for a year now.  I’ve just been so busy since I started working part-time and running an Etsy team.  I pretty much forgot that I had started a blog on WordPress.  I took over as captain last year for the Northeast Etsy Artists Association (formerly known as the Hudson Valley Etsy Pop Up Team). I recently wrote an article about my team and how we are taking our online sales offline by holding pop up shops and fundraising events in local communities.  Here is the article in it’s entirety.  

Meet a local Etsy team that is taking online sales offline, bringing their handmade wares into the hands of shoppers and raising awareness of their shops in the process.

The Northeast Etsy Artists Association is comprised of more than 30 Etsy shop owners, many of whom reside in the Hudson Valley, who create and sell a wide variety of high-end handmade goods, including unique jewelry, toys, knitted and crocheted accessories and clothing, all-natural soaps and skin care products, aromatherapy, original artwork, journals, pillows, fabric purses and pouches, and home décor.

Etsy is an online marketplace for handmade, vintage, and other unique items, with more than 54 million registered users.

One of the largest selling categories on Etsy is handcrafted jewelry. About a third of the team is comprised of jewelry designers who make everything from crocheted, beaded and metal to gemstone pieces. Team member Dana Damiani of Honey Bee Metals in Ringwood, N.J. speaks for these designers and says that “for us as jewelry makers, many of our pieces need to be touched, tried on.” Damiani adds, “While online shopping has revolutionized our world, it’s a double-edged sword. Many of us have businesses because of online selling opportunities, but it takes away from the thrill of shopping, trying something on, and then deciding on the purchase.”

The group organizes and hosts pop-up shops at local venues, including retail shops such as West Elm, Hip Kid and Etui Fiber Arts in Westchester County. The group also hosts fundraising events in collaboration with libraries and charitable organizations such as The John C. Hart Memorial Library, Purpl and Embark, donating a percentage of their proceeds to fund community programs and workshops.

Etsy encourages the formation of teams and forums as a way for its online shop owners to meet, connect and collaborate. The main focus of the Northeast Etsy Artists Association is to bring awareness of the growing handmade movement to local communities, while also promoting their brands and small businesses.

Team Captain Robin Larido of Robin’s Art & Design believes that “the biggest benefit to a local team is the close networking and the face-to-face meeting with each other—and, more importantly, with the surrounding community, which seems to really want to encourage and support local talent”.

Larido adds, “There is a sense of loyalty at these events that can’t be bought, and there’s certainly a lot of goodwill that is spread from neighbor to neighbor.”

Working alongside Larido are three team leaders—Cassandra Caruso of HelloBeYouTeeFull, Lisa Hulitzky of Lisa’s Wishing WELL, and Stefanie Wolfson of Little Paw Press—who all contribute their time and expertise to promotion, membership recruitment and venue research. Caruso is a graphic designer who created the team’s Facebook banner and logo. Hulitzky, a jewelry designer and former employee at West Elm, the home furnishing retailer, was instrumental in connecting the team with the store’s management and facilitated the team’s first pop-up event at the store. Wolfson, a silkscreen artist who designs the team’s promotional posters, is also in charge of membership and researching possible pop-up locations.

Another key team member is Anne Souza of Soulfully Sweet Scents. Souza helps the team by creating social media posts on Facebook and Pinterest, as well as creating team treasuries or curated photo gallery collections of handmade goods on Etsy.

Many of the group’s members also participate individually in local craft fairs, festivals, markets and gallery shows. Carmen Scerra of GemsZen was a featured artist with RAW, an independent worldwide arts organization (https://www.rawartists.org/newyork) at its July 2015 NYC Highline Ballroom show.

To gain maximum exposure for their shops and small businesses, the artists also submit their work to newspaper, magazine, book and blog publishers. Sometimes, the artists are invited by editors who are fans of Etsy to submit work or write articles. Larido’s mixed-media artwork was published in the summer 2009 and summer 2011 issues of Somerset Studio Gallery magazine. And, she wrote a feature article for the magazine’s winter 2016 issue at the invitation of editor Brianne Martin, who discovered Larido’s shop on Etsy.  Judy Secon of H &J Star Creations was one of seven local makers to be featured in an article in The Journal News (http://www.lohud.com/story/life/2016/02/10/local-crafters-doing-all-hand/78694854) about the handmade movement in the Lower Hudson Valley. Hulitzky was featured in a Victoria magazine article titled “Calling Cards.” The handmade soaps of Barbara Robinson DeAngelis of Bonnie Brae Soaps were included on the soap-making blog http://www.soapqueen.com. And Janet Baskerville of Seven Adornments, who makes Boho-inspired jewelry, was published in 1000 Jewelry Inspirations by Northlight Books.

By taking their online sales offline and engaging and connecting with shoppers at pop-up and fundraising events, and getting the word out through social media and local and national publications, the Northeast Etsy Artists Association hopes to raise awareness of the handmade movement. They also hope to enable shoppers to experience for themselves the creative spark behind the photos and product descriptions they see online.

To see featured artists’ posts and other highlights from the team, please visit the group’s Facebook Page (www.facebook.com/NortheastEtsyArtistsAssociation), where they post news of upcoming events, photos and features highlighting the talents and achievements of individual members. For more information about the Northeast Etsy Artists Association, contact Robin Larido at northeastetsyartistassoc@gmail.com.

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