Sunday, April 26, 2009

A Crafty Community

There are so many online communities cropping up these days that the average person (with a job) will likely have to pick one that is most important to him or her and just participate peripherally elsewhere. I, on the other hand, participate peripherally everywhere, so I wonder how meaningful my interactions really are or what I am missing out on. One thing is for certain, I have been missing out on Etsy.

Etsy is an online marketplace for handmade items where anyone with internet access and a desire to craft can put out a shingle and instantly be in business. Growing up, these were the fun stores to go into because you could always expect something new or different. More often than not these days, craft businesses can't survive against big national chains, so sellers have been retreating to flea markets, craft fairs and swap meets. Now they have a new outlet, with even greater potential for reaching their customers.

Here is a video that gives you a great perspective on what Etsy is all about:

Etsy truly promotes community by creating a place for direct contact and interaction between buyers and sellers. This also allows for collaboration and customization. How often do you want an item, but you just can't find the exact right thing? I guarantee there is an artisan on Etsy that can help you out. There are also blogs, forums and chat features to keep everyone talking and sharing.

Surprisingly, Etsy has also become a new way of passing down crafting techniques from generation to generation. While this practice often occurred within families, it now happens through community, through Etsy's videos (they have how-to's and Virtual Labs on the site, but they also have a dedicated YouTube channel) and where possible, physical Etsy Labs where craftsmen can learn their trades.

If you haven't been there yet, you should definitely check it out. One day, when I have free time once again (sigh) I will definitely be there as well. I used to be a pretty mean knitter.