Like many professionals, Psychotherapist Leslie Janson of Golden’s Bridge, New York puts a large premium on serving her patients. The same goes for the commitment she gives to her family of four, which includes two teenage boys. In turn, like anyone, she needs a little “take” to counter all the “give” that empties the waters from her own pool of inspiration. “This kind of fills the well,” she says of her sewing hobby. And better yet, she’s found a way to turn her talents into a small business venture through a network of “indie” artisans that stretches the World (wide web) over.
Etsy.com easily allows independent crafts people to setup an online store front to display and sell their work without the hassles of an actual address. “They have a system that you just plug your information in to,” she says, and the buyers can then window-shop at the click of the nearest mouse.
At the moment, local word of mouth is directing her customers to the Etsy web address where they can find pillows that she reconfigures out of grain sacks or vintage handkerchiefs. Otherwise, with whatever shoppers have in mind – be it pillows or pottery – Etsy makes the searching simple. “There’s a giant list off all the categories,” she says in which they can shop by item, color, occasion, location, etc.
So far a little extra cushion created in her bank account isn’t bad but the chance to be connected to the Etsy online community is better. Consumers can access sellers like her and provide the kind of positive feedback that makes the craftsmanship worthwhile. “It’s kind of like you’re buying from or selling to somebody in Wisconsin but there’s a direct relationship,” she says.
The direct relationship also extends to and between the craft makers. In order to share information and build business relationships, Etsy members write blogs, subscribe to newsletters and join Etsy teams based on their trade or location. “The whole culture of Etsy is fascinating,” she says.
A culture, she says, that cares beyond the bottom line too. Recently, an Etsy member in Louisiana died in a car accident, and as the word got out, the community rallied through the website to raise money for the family.
For her own calling to goodwill, Ms. Janson has taken the small measure of success so far to have some impact on an organization called Women for Women. Operating around the world in war torn areas, a portion of all the items sold on her Ms. Janson’s Etsy store front will go to this organization that educates women to a level of self sufficiency.
All that aside, she thinks anyone who feels they possess the skills to interest others in their art should also buy into the Etsy society. That’s even if they fear they lack the technical aptitude to embark on something that sounds complicated but really isn’t. “If I could do it, anybody could do it,” she assures.