Handmade vs factory made- A struggle for artists

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Recently I read a very eye opening article. Let me back up by saying that I have been selling on etsy for over 3 years. I only recently went to full time working at home to sell my designs. Being a  ” one woman band” is not an easy feat.  I truly HAND MAKE all of my designs. While sometimes I do use patterns, I more often than not create my own. I cut all of my fabric, sew that baby up and hand sew on  embellishments. I am a one woman sweatshop and I am damn proud of it.

Also, Not only do I have to balance getting my name out there by marketing daily on facebook, twitter, my blog, pinterest, ect, but I also have sew new items daily, photograph them, and be lucky to list one item a day. I also have a knitting store which has been sorely neglected because I am focusing on my clothing and accessories shop, I have tried many different designs in my shop, some work, some don’t, I have my own website as well that I manage daily, and with all I do to practically scream to the world ” NOTICE MY DESIGNS!!!!” I am lucky if I sell 1 item a month in my shop. I have yet to sell anything on my website, however the site is fairly new.

I used to think ” well etsy has hundreds of thousand of sellers, that’s why I get lost in the mix” or ” It’s slow, people do not buy until holidays”. But while both may have some validity, there is a lot more that is going on , a bigger picture if you will. People buy. Plain and simple, it is a consumers world and us artists are the ones jumping up and down going ” pick me! pick me!” And if you have enough money to showcase your goods, people will think it is good enough to buy.

This brings me back to this amazing article. I suggest you read it whether you are a starving artist or not, because you are still a consumer, you still BUY, and you may be buying from the fakers online that “claim” to be selling you something made with their own 2 hands.

While these designers order product from overseas factories and slap an embellishment on it to call it “handmade” (or sometimes they add NOTHING to the product!), truly handmade stores like my own suffer and get lost in the hundreds of  thousands of stores on etsy. While etsy claims to have a “marketplace trust and integrity team” to snuff out these fakes, there are too many selling on the site now, and while etsy “claims” to have a system for catching these people, the system is severely flawed, I believe.  Part of their process of “investigating” these shops is asking them to send detailed photos of their work in progress, their design process , ect. But who’s to say these photos do not come from somewhere else? Basically it is up to etsy whether or not they “believe” a shop is designing truly handmade items or not.

And not only does etsy charge .20 for every item you list, etsy gets a percentage of your sales, albeit a very small percentage (3.5% for every sale). So, if you have  big honkin shop that has hundreds of mass produced items  that lists, let’s say, 30 new items a day, the fees come too:$.600, monthly that is $180.00. Not bad, you say? Let’s also say, said shop brings in an average of $1500 a day in sales etsy gets 3.5% of that which is 52.50. Annually , with the listing fees,that is $21,334.5. And this is just one shop, and one possible calculation. There are hundreds of these fakers selling on etsy, bringing in a lot of money to…yup, to etsy. No wonder they do not want to get rid of them! As a result, shops like my own get lost in the mix, suffering as a result with our measly 1 sale a month.

I am going to give an example of one shop that I will not name( hey,it is not my place to expose this shop) that sells hundreds of accessories and clothing daily. They have had well over 30,000 sales, and admittedly their stuff is really cute. As a consumer I would definitely want to shop there, if it were ebay, target, maybe even their own personal website. But instead, these crooks are claiming to hand sew, hand knit, hand weave these hundreds of items on their site that not only do I KNOW is not possible even with the crew of 3 or 4 people they have making items for them ( don’t get me started on having someone ELSE sew MY designs) but I have found multiple items they sell on alibaba.com an international wholesaler. 

The truth of the matter is, If etsy were to close it’s virtual doors you have to ask yourself, where would your next sale come from? Nowhere, right?  This is why it is crucial to have your own website, market yourself, and get your name out there. Do not rely on one singular avenue of selling.

I could go on and on about the many shops I have found on etsy that are taking away from us true designers, but I would rather continue to strive to show that my designs deserve a place in this fashion world, and I will not give up until I bedazzle the world with “Dramatique Designs”. I will continue to sell on etsy and supporting  the ones on their that deserve it , I will jump for joy at my one sale a month, I will sew until my fingers bleed. I will not give up, because my mother taught me well in that respect. 

Karma is a bitch and my karma screams awesomeness. Here is the article, please read and support handmade:


Also see below how Etsy no longer stands by the fact that they are a handmade marketplace for sellers and buyers:

This was Etsy’s home page in 2008


And here it is 2013, it is gone



3 thoughts on “Handmade vs factory made- A struggle for artists

  1. Fantastic post! And I agree with you 100% Etsy is a great platform to start as a handmade seller, but eventually you’ll want to start expanding into other avenues, and your own professional website will grant your business the credibility to directly compete with the “big guys.” I started my own website in February, and it has been steadily increasing in traffic and sales ever since. However, I still have my 4 shops on Etsy, occasionally list a handful of items on Ebay, Zibbet, Meylah, and WePay. *whew, that sounds like more than it is!*

    The main focus isn’t where you sell but how you are promoting it and to who. Target the people who care about handmade, and the resellers can’t compete for them!

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