Friday, October 12, 2012

Shopping with Purpose::Etsy

Etsy is the world’s handmade marketplace.

Our mission is to empower people to change the way the global economy works. We see a world in which very-very small businesses have much-much more sway in shaping the economy, local living economies are thriving everywhere, and people value authorship and provenance as much as price and convenience. We are bringing heart to commerce and making the world more fair, more sustainable, and more fun.

I've always loved Etsy.  It's all things handmade, beautiful, and quirky.  Supporting small businesses and artisans?  I don't know.  It just feels right.  I've spent a great deal of time on Etsy.  I go with good intentions - to find a unique gift - and then am so overwhelmed and inspired, I walk away two hours later drunk on beauty and originality...with no gift.

The other day was a little ridiculous and tops my Etsy binge.  Maybe I've been living in a cave or something but I had no idea Etsy offered the "Gift Ideas" option on their site.

On one hand, this "Gift Ideas" feature is incredibly helpful.  On the other, it's pretty entertaining to see your friends and their interests summed up by Facebook and Etsy.

Here's how it works:  You click on the "Gift Ideas" tab and sign in with Facebook.  Your friends pop up, and Etsy uses their likes, interests, and information from Facebook to offer personalized gift suggestions.

We are living in creepy, creepy times, folks - but it sure does make shopping easier...and entertaining.

This partnership between Etsy and Facebook rendered great gift ideas for friends and family.  It reminded me of my dad's love for Stevie Ray Vaughan and that my brother-in-law digs Ducati motorcycles.

Gift Categories for Aaron:  grooming, Vintage Bill Blass, hats, wallets, journals, jackets, photography, belt buckles, flasks, sweaters, cuff-links, Vintage Eddie Bauer.  This is a man who lives on the edge, no?  Someone around here has to be responsible, rock-solid, and stable.

I've been having an identity crisis lately.  I have one every three years, so it's hardly worthy of talking about online.  Like all sane people do, I signed into Etsy with Aaron's Facebook account to see what gifts Etsy would recommend for me.  I'm pretty sure this is the Etsy version of googling yourself.  I'll admit - it felt a tad bit dirty.  And fascinating.

In retrospect, I'm really glad I Etsyed myself.  I could have spent months doing a lot of soul searching - trying to figure out where to focus my passion - trying to honestly examine who I really am and what really matters to me.

But why do all that work when Facebook and Etsy can do it for me?

According to Etsy and Facebook, I'm a die-hard idealist.  I like Aretha Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr, Mother Theresa, Will Smith (don't judge) and weird television shows that I probably shouldn't like so much.  I'm into vintage clothing, simple, handmade jewelry, and Jesus.  Etsy literally said, "Heather likes Jesus."  What a relief.  Etsy even knew I'm into coral.

Perfect gift for me?  A vintage, coral, Aretha Franklin t-shirt.

I could have gone to therapy, filled a journal with pages and pages of "Who am I" ramblings (or let's face it - just over-shared right here on the interwebz for all to see.)  Instead, I faced the Facebook/Etsy facts. I noticed a solid theme while Etsying myself. I watch television shows whose lead characters are women who are always funny, adorably dressed, and juggle work and family practically flawlessly.  Thus my constant relationship with an identity crisis?  Facebook and Etsy have no idea how brilliant they are.

I named my new therapist, Fetsy by the way.  She's free and freakishly right on.

In all seriousness (not that my identity crisis and brilliant solution to it wasn't serious) when we buy from Etsy shops we support small businesses.  Oftentimes we're supporting women working hard for their money - many of them stay at home moms - trying to pay for ballet classes and to put braces on their kids' teeth.  There's no middle man.

Have you tried this shopping feature from Etsy?  If so, did you find anything mind-boggling about yourself or your friends and family?  Got any favorite Etsy shops?  Feel free to share them.  Know any Etsy shop owners that give back to social causes or are managing their shops in order to fund an adoption?  Let me know.  I'll feature them in next Friday's link list.


Got big weekend plans?  We've got a busy one ahead of us.  There's a really cool festival going on this Saturday, and we are celebrating a birthday boy in our home.  This is my first teenage party.  I'm a little nervous.  How about some weekend links?

This is hilarious.  Ladies, we've come a long way.

This is interesting to think about - does simply getting angry actually "do" anything?

This is crazy.  My, my, my have things changed.

This is exciting and honest.  Gets me all kinds of inspired and passionate about fair trade.

I loved reading this.  Amen and amen.

I love it when these topics hit mainstream news.

We're making these this weekend at the birthday party.

Our kids are so excited about this movie they can barely stand it.

I hope you have a beautiful weekend!


Anonymous said...

I've wandered over to your blog from Flowerpatch Farmgirl and have been reading your 31 days of shopping with purpose with great interest. I have a question that I'm hoping you can address. I am asking because I truly want to hear your thoughts, not because I'm trying to make a point. I wrestle with whether or not it's best to patronize small businesses and I'll explain why. Large corporations often get a bad rap, but large corporations also provide their workers with benefits such as sick days, vacation days, health insurance, life insurance, and retirement funds. No one with an Etsy shop gets these things. In fact, the time-intensive nature of the items made often means that after paying for materials and shipping, the artist is doing good to make minimum wage per hour, when you consider the time put into the making of the item, marketing their shop, etc. I looked into the possibility of opening an Etsy shop after my daughter was born so I could contribute to the household income while at home, but found I would be much better off going back to work 10 hours a week, making $17 an hour and having money go into my employer-provided retirement fund and employer-matched 403b. So my question is, wouldn't it be better to spend your money purchasing from companies that provide their employees with health insurance, retirement benefits, sick and vacation days, etc.?

Thanks and I look forward to hearing your thoughts!


Laura Stiller said...

Heather - Can I just say my heart LEAPS every time I see your favorite links to fun stuff around the web on Friday - and then the baby cries, my toddler digs through the trash or I realize it's 3 pm and I would like to eat some lunch. Can I make a suggestion or ask a favor? (Feel free to totally disregard me, I might be the only one with this problem.) I would LOVE to click through on every link, but maybe if you wrote the name of the blog/website/post that you're linking too I'd click through to more of them. As it is, when I don't know what I'm clicking I just brush past it and wonder what I missed out on. Just a weird/random idea for busy busy moms like me! ;-)

Hendrick Family said...

Emily! Those are great questions. I'm not ignoring you, I promise! My son had a bd party this weekend and we started a huge home improvement project this weekend (that will take some of this week to finish).

I promise to come back to this and offer my thoughts.


Laura said...

Loved this post on Etsy! I didn't even know they did the stalk-you thing so other people can see what presents you might like. That kind of thing always borders on creepy and then slightly beneficial so it's hard to be totally against it.

I've loved your series on shopping with purpose! I have an Etsy shop and each month I send 20% of sales to the non profit I'm spotlighting that month. I had a few good ideas to start, but was wondering what other non profits I could spotlight and your series has given me some really great organizations to look into!