Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Chad Dickerson Town Hall Announcements on the Future of Etsy

This is a hard post to write. Yesterday was such a sad day for so many Etsy sellers. We all knew it was coming but to actually hear it said out loud, made it so final and bleak. And for the Town Hall panel (and Chad) to be so condescending to their customers/sellers questions makes it a thousand times worse.

In my opinion this is what happens when you put a tech man in charge of a handmade site. Chad Dickerson is so out of the loop when it comes to handmade and what makes it special. I feel sure when he worked at Yahoo this worked well for him. But Etsy is a different animal. This was so evident when Chad made his Etsy treasury that was full of mass produced items. Remember that one? And even when people pointed out that much of his treasury was resellers, he never took it down. That spoke (and still speaks) volumes. Or the whole bali wood fiasco. That too spoke volumes about where the future of Etsy was headed.

My guess is Chad Dickerson has never made something by hand that came from his own imagination that doesn't include code. How can a person that has never been a part of the arts & crafts movement direct an artisan site? Exactly the way Chad is doing it. With no thought to what goes into making a truly handmade item and what it means to make and sell handmade. What he can understand is mass production, profits and investors. 

This quote is pulled from an interview Chad did on Pandodaily. "Dickerson said his first 18 months as a CTO of the company felt like each day the company might die. It’s been kept alive — externally, at least — by the passion of the seller community." What Chad needs to understand is "the passion of the seller community" can be re directed to another site/sites. Etsy was always driven to success by the sellers (that are also buyers). Not code, not mass produced junk, by the sellers that made each item from their own hands.

This is what Rob Kalin had to say in an interview for before he was ousted. "I speak to people in the business world and the technology world, but I don't admire them," he says, pointing an 8-inch combat knife at me for emphasis. "I admire the makers of the world." This is not empty rhetoric: Kalin makes his own furniture and his own underwear. He also thinks that trying to maximize shareholder value is "ridiculous," adding, "I couldn't run a company where you had to use that as an excuse for why it was doing things."

I feel sure Etsy will continue on and become a huge site for all things mass produced. Because once you open the gate; the flood will come. It will overwhelm all the beautiful things that are truly handmade.
Chad may think he can re define "handmade", but he cannot. Just like he thinks he can use a different Etsy definition for "drop shipping" Thats laughable. We all know what the real meaning of handmade is and we all know what what mass produced is.

The one thing I disagree with that has been posted over and over on the Etsy forums is that handmade is now dead. Handmade may be dead (or dying) on Etsy, but it will never be gone. I have been in the arts and crafts industry in one form or another for about 30 years. During that time (even before Etsy) people would predict the death of handmade. Thankfully it never happens. At the end of the day there will always be people that must make handmade things because they are driven to do so. And there will always be people that want to buy handmade because they know the value of something that is truly handmade from the heart; one stitch, one brushstroke, one pencil mark at a time. 

I leave you all with this picture of a baby blanket proudly handmade by me one stitch at a time.

1 comment:

  1. What sad news. Even though I haven't had anything in my etsy shop in forever. Have you checked out Goodsmiths?


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