Perhaps you’ve heard of this thing called Etsy. Since 2005, artisans from all over the world have been using this site to sell their art, handmade clothing, beauty products, toys—you name it. It’s a virtual storefront that takes the work out of creating your own website and tracking your own sales. While it’s not a free service—3.5 percent of each sale is paid to Etsy—it allows people to start a business without a lot of the risk and panic that’s typically involved.
If you’re like me, you enjoy the convenience of shopping without leaving your living room, but you still want to support members of the community who are offering well-produced goods in an ethical manner. Thankfully, there are many local entrepreneurs that you can feel good about supporting .
Reusable Menstrual Care
Jenn King always wanted to find a way to “be self-employed and do creative work.” She started her Alternative Menstrual Care shop in 2011 and has been combining her “interest in feminism and sustainability” ever since. King creates reusable pads that are good for women’s bodies, the planet, and are cute to boot! On her Etsy site, King emphasizes the importance of using natural products (most mass-produced feminine hygiene products are made from bleached plastic and wood pulp, then coated with absorbent chemicals) and highlights the myth that you must use disposable pads or tampons. Unlike most large corporations, King notes that “reusable menstrual products are generally made by small, ethical, woman-owned businesses (like ours!) that view their customers as people, not profit centers.” For more information, check out King’s shop, Cozy Folk, at https://www.etsy.com/shop/
Just Wear It
On the other hand, maybe you’re looking for something you can wear—ahem—for the whole world to see. Rob Dudenhoefer, a Michigan native, has been creating one-of-a-kind jewelry for 20 years. His passion for metal began in an unlikely place; Dudenhoefer worked in his parents’ “small manufacturing business making parts for La-Z-Boy chairs, Massey Ferguson tractors, and GM cars.” He went on to study Product Design and Metalwork & Jewelry Design at the University of Michigan Art School. The rest, as they say, is history. Dudenhoefer has been selling his work on Etsy since 2011, but his product line dates back to 1996. He worked briefly as an apprentice goldsmith at Talisman Jewelers but left to be a stay-at-home dad; this is when his real work took off. He’s a seasoned artist whose work is whimsical and edgy. For Dudenhoefer, the hardest part about having an online store is finding time to add new designs. In addition to making the jewelry, Dudenhoefer has fun photographing his pieces and coming up with descriptions for each.
He writes, “I usually start with ‘Goes well with a little black dress,’ and end up with something more like ‘These robots look great with a lab coat.’” Yes, some of his jewelry involves robots. Check out his shop at https://www.etsy.com/shop/
Smelling Better for a Better Tomorrow
If those don’t interest you, there are plenty more. Everyone likes a good soap, right? April Spehar began her soap-making adventures during Christmas of 1999. It started out as a hobby; Spehar had some great ideas for scent and color combinations, and eventually she had more soap than she could possibly use herself. Friends and family loved it and encouraged Spehar and her husband to branch out and sell their handmade goods. They started out with a combined shop to sell both soap and jewelry, but in 2010 she launched an Etsy site just for their soaps.
The husband-and-wife team make their soaps through a combination of nourishing oils—olive, coconut, palm, and apricot—as well as “pure essential oils and ground botanicals, [and] grains or clay to enhance the soap with their color and beneficial properties.” Selling her soap on Etsy and through local shops like the Teal Co-operative Gallery and the First Alternative Co-op allows her to spend a lot of time with her kids and have a positive impact on Corvallis.
“Making and selling a product in the community where I have grown up and now raise my kids is very rewarding. I value having a connection with the people who buy and use my products,” said Spehar. So, if you want to smell good and feel good about it, check out April Showers Soaps by visiting https://www.etsy.com/shop/
Join the Team
Maybe these shops have inspired some of you to turn your hobby into a business. These three make it look easy, but it still takes a bit of work. King noted, “Building a successful small business requires you to do a thousand different jobs simultaneously, so I continue to be inspired by all the new things I get to learn every day!”
If you’re ready to put in the time for getting a shop started and creating all the pieces you want to sell, Etsy can connect you to local consumers and people all over the world. Because Etsy takes some of the work out of self-promotion, this eventually gives artisans more time to work on what they love. King recommends checking out Handmade Corvallis (https://www.etsy.com/teams/
Whether you’re buying, selling, or have the dream to do so, Corvallis is ripe with Etsy advantages.
Handmade Corvallis can also be found on Facebook; visit https://www.facebook.com/
By Anika Lautenbach