Local Crafters Turn To Etsy as Side-Gig Income Option
business booms on national e-commerce site, and Chippewa Vallians are reaping the fruits of their labor
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have been hit hard, but not Etsy.
Amid turbulent economic times, many locals have turned to the popular crafting e-commerce site to sell handmade products as a way to earn extra cash or pass the time.
“Starting an Etsy business is so appealing during the pandemic because of how easy it is for anyone to start one and start selling the products they make,” said Cameron Sotka, owner of Kosta Leather Goods, which is sold primarily through Etsy. “It is a way for me to relieve stress at the end of the day and a way for me to express myself in my work.”
According to Statistica, a market and consumer data research company, gross merchandise sales on Etsy amounted to $6.7 billion during the first nine months of 2020, and Etsy’s gross merchandise sales doubled (even without accounting for added face mask sales!) between April and September, as compared to the same period in 2019.
“This is a super exciting time for us crafters,” said Sarah Hurt, owner of The Wandering Hooker, which sells primarily crocheted goods. “Our friends, our family, and our community have been looking to us to help solve problems we didn’t have before. Like all of us out there making masks. There’s this excitement that starts with using up our fabric stash. … We’re sharing things we love to do and the talents we have with our community to remind us we’re still in this together.”
Most new Etsy sellers in the Chippewa Valley don’t use it as a primary income, but more as a creative outlet and a way to earn a little extra change.
“I’m not an overnight sensation,” said Sara Selseth, a yoga instructor at The Yoga Room who sells homemade eye pillows and other crafted goods on Etsy. “It’s not replacing my full-time job. I don’t see it ever doing that. It’s literally just a hobby and allowing me to share this phenomenal thing that no one knew they needed until they tried it.”
Though Etsy is an international virtual business platform, it enables folks to support local creatives in a safe and socially distanced manner. According to Selseth, you can set your location, so that enables buyers and sellers to connect locally.
“Crafters are building our communities closer together,” Hurt added. “The money that goes to me to make a heirloom blanket is money that I’m keeping in my community. I take that hustle money and bring my family out to dinner to Ted’s in Menomonie or Brewery Nonic to buy a friend a beer around their fire pit that’s outside and feels socially safe.”