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one of Etsy's products [4]
Type E-commerce
Launch Date 2005
Status Active
Product Line Art
Platform iOS App
Website [site]

Etsy is an ecommerce website headquartered in DUMBO, Brooklyn. It allows collectors and artists to sell their vintage pieces, unique and handmade products, as well as art supplies. It also connects artists worldwide, hoping to inspire a push for a small business-powered economy.[1] Etsy was created in 2005 by Rob Kalish and currently has over 19 million members. The Etsy website is available in 150 countries and the company has offices in Hudson, NY, San Francisco, CA, and Berlin, Germany. [2] As of April 2015, Etsy was valued at over $3 billion. [3] Main features on the site include: selling and buying unique products, registries and blogs, and feedback that helps to establish a trusting relationship between buyers and sellers. The Etsy philosophy is to inspire people and help to establish small businesses online through Etsy Local and Etsy Labs, and to "bring heart to commerce and make the world more fair, more sustainable, and more fun."[4] Etsy's business model and methodology also bring to light a host of ethical concerns and discussions. Such topics include buyer and seller privacy, and selling or purchasing illegal items. Additionally, Etsy has been involved in controversies, most prominently with Ecologica Malibu, the NAACP, and Cause Crafting.


March 2005:

Etsy Founder Rob Kalin

Etsy was created by the carpenter, photographer, and painter Rob Kalin in 2005. At the time, Kalin believed there was not a good way to sell his products and wanted to create a way to satisfy this need. On June 18, 2005, Etsy launched online with the help of Halm Schoppik and Chris Maguire. [2] When asked where the name Etsy came from, creator Rob Kalin replied,"I wanted a nonsense word because I wanted to build the brand from scratch. I was watching Fellini's 8 ½ and writing down what I was hearing. In Italian, you say 'etsi' a lot. It means 'oh, yes.' And in Latin, it means 'and if.'" [5]

August 2010:

Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson.

Adam Freed was named COO of Etsy. [6] He later stepped down from his position in September 2012. [7]

July 2011:

Chad Dickerson was named CEO of Etsy after 3 years serving as Etsy's CTO [8] Dickerson is Etsy's third CEO since taking over the role from Rob Kalin who served as CEO from 2005-2008 and then again from December 2009 to July 2011. Maria Thomas Etsy's 2nd CEO, who served from July 2008 to December 2009. [9]

May 2012:

Etsy announced that it was raising $40 million dollars to expand their company worldwide.[10]

October 2012:

Etsy reported that it created three new optional safety features that would better protect its users. The first safety feature available will prompt a user for a second password that would be sent to the user's mobile phone every 30 days and every time a new browser is used to sign in. The second feature enables the user to sign out of currently signed in sessions from a different location.The third feature allows users to enable SSL for the whole site, further protecting sensitive and private information.[11]

Etsy has over $436.9 in annual sales, 19 million members, 1.7 Twitter followers, 950,000 Facebook likes, 15 million+ product listings, 42 million monthly visitors, 1.4 billion+ page views, 800,000+ shops, and yearly transactions with 150 countries.[2]


In March 2015 Etsy's CEO Chris Dickerson announced that the company had filed for a Registration Statement for an IPO, the first step for a company to go public.[12] A little over a month later, on April 16, 2015, Etsy went public on the New York Stock Exchange and raised $237 million in IPO proceeds.[13]

Main Features


A variety of products are sold on Etsy, including arts supplies, handmade products, and vintage pieces. Vintage pieces can only be listed if they are a minimum of 20 years old. In order to sell products on Etsy, users must create a username and have the option to create a shop name. The username cannot be changed once created. Creating a shop on Etsy is free, however each listing that is posted in the shop costs $0.20. Each listing will remain on the shop's page for 4 months, or until someone buys the product. The sale prices of products are determined by the shop owner, but Etsy claims 3.5% of the sale price of each listing. Before a shop owner lists a product for sale, Etsy will show the fees he/she will be charged to make sure the shop owner is aware of the net profit to be made. Shop owners are sent a bill at the end of every month containing the fees they owe, and they have until the 15th day of the following month to pay the Etsy bill. Etsy ensures that each purchase is a secure transaction to protect the sellers as well as the customers.

Before sellers open up their Etsy shop, they have various resources they can look at to understand how the selling process works. There are Etsy support specialists that are available by email or phone to answer questions that sellers may have. Sellers can read the Seller Handbook which includes best practices to manage their business. There is also an Etsy newsletter as well as Etsy forums which provide insights and tips to improve your shop. Etsy sellers can use the "Sell" tab on the Etsy application to manage their business. They can manage their orders, update items and communicate with customers. They also have the ability to promote their listing in search to drive more traffic. [14]


To help sellers create their own page, Etsy has incorporated a tool called “Pattern.” Pattern allows sellers to design their own website through Etsy. They are able to choose a theme and color palette. Further customizations are available for the sellers. Because Pattern is still linked to Etsy, once the seller creates their Pattern site, all of their products and listings will automatically sync to their new site. Sellers can manage both their Etsy shop as well as their Pattern site from the same place. Orders will be processed and shipped the same way on the Pattern site as they would be if they were done from the Etsy site. Etsy is hoping to give sellers more freedom for their site to reflect their business and products rather than just having everyone sell on the same rather plain Etsy platform. Pattern also has stats and built-in mobile and search engine optimization. Creating a Pattern site will give sellers a custom domain with the ability to connect their Pattern site to their Etsy page. Etsy is offering a free 30 day trial. After the free trial, sellers would have to pay $15 a month for this service.[15] Etsy sellers were interested in having their own site to sell their products but had stated that the process of getting a domain, creating and managing the site as well as keeping track of inventory was very complicated. This will help keep sellers on Etsy instead of moving to only having a personal website to sell their products. Also, Etsy have the potential to attract more sellers because of this new tool. Etsy will also be making money from these sellers if they choose to continue using Pattern after the 30 day trial. [16]


Searching for products to buy on Etsy is generally intuitive and simple. On the homepage,the potential buyer can type a product description into the search bar. [17] Alternatively, buyers may also choose from a list of categories by clicking on the "Categories" link on the left side of the homepage. This will bring the user to a page of categories that include: Accessories, Art, Bags and Purses, Bath and Beauty, Books and Zines, Candles, Ceramics and Pottery, Children, Clothing, Crochet, Dolls and Miniatures, Everything Else, Furniture, Geekery, Glass, Holidays, Housewares, Jewelry, Knitting, Music, Needlecraft, Paper Goods, Patterns, Pets, Plants and Edibles, Quilts, Supplies, Toys, Vintage, Wedding, Woodworking. Each of these categories have sub-categories to help the buyer refine the search. [18]

When a buyer views a product, he/she can view the positive percentage feedback of each seller to determine the reliability of the shop. Once a buyer finds a product he/she would like to buy, he/she clicks "Add to Cart", and that product is added to his/her virtual "Shopping Cart". The buyer may then continue shopping or purchase the selected item. In order to purchase items, buyers must have an account with Etsy. The account is free and can be integrated with Facebook to make the sign-in and registration process faster. The total product and shipping costs are shown to the user prior to entering payment information so the user knows exactly how much is being paid. Products listed on Etsy can be paid either with a Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or Discover Card credit/debit card or with PayPal. [19]

Registry, Community, Blog

An Etsy user showcases their products

Etsy allows users to create wedding registries[20] to ensure unique, handcrafted gifts. To create a registry, users must register with Etsy, but anyone may search for a regitsry. Users may go to the Etsy Community page to "Conect with fellow Etsians" [21]. Under this Community page, users can learn about and find Etsy event such as Etsy Labs. If users cannot make it to an event, videos are uploaded online. Through this page, users may also form and join teams with Etsy members who share common interests. Forums allow users to read and create blog posts to further connect with other Etsy members.[22]

Community members often help each other out. it isn't easy becoming a profitable Etsy seller but when that does happen often they try to share the knowledge. For example, Iveth Morales runs an Easy storefront and contributed to this third party blog to help others figure out how they can also build Easy marketplaces [23]The photo on the right showcases her selling some of her items in a physical storefront, The Angry Weather.


Feedback is means of establishing a reputation of trust for buyers, sellers and the Etsy marketplace, as well as identifying potential scammers and other unscrupulous users. Etsy members have the option to leave feedback for both the buyer and seller 120 days after the date of the transaction. This feedback is a record of a member's transaction and is completely anonymous, only the feedback rating is visible. Shop owners cannot make their sold order history or customer feedback private. The transaction can be rated as positive, negative, or neutral and you may leave an optional comment or customer appreciation photo related to the transaction.Consistency, fairness and honesty are critical to the integrity of the feedback system. Feedback directly affects a member's reputation and how other members of the Etsy community views that person. The feedback score is the cumulative total of all positives (+1) and negatives (-1) received. Neutral feedback does not affect a member's feedback score as it's neither positive nor negative [24].


Etsy's goal is to inspire people around the world to take the power from large corporations and put it in the hands of small businesses. Etsy hopes to create a flourishing environment where people with similar interests can communicate with one another, buy one-of-a-kind goods, and explore unfamiliar communities and products. Etsy also hopes to make people realize how commendable individual authorship is.[1] The site strives to contain the best products available and explicitly states on their website that "Etsy members are responsible for making important moral or ethical decisions regarding what they buy and sell on Etsy" [25].

Etsy Local

Etsy Labs.

In order to help support its mission, Etsy has a search function on its site called "Etsy Local". Etsy Local allows users to search for and purchase products in the user's local area. This function can be found on the site by selecting the "Buy" tab on the homepage and then scrolling down and select "Shop Local" on the right-hand side. The user then enters a product name followed by "in" and then enter the name of the city or country the user would like to buy from. Then a list of products corresponding to the user's search will be displayed. Users can also use the main search bar and then after searching a product, the user can scroll down and enter his/her location on the left-hand side. [26]

Etsy Labs

Etsy created Etsy Labs in order to educate people on how to create their own products and to help people interested in the arts to communicate with one another. Labs are creative workshops where public events are held ranging from business development workships to those involving craft-making. Etsy Lab workshops are free of charge. [27] Etsy Labs can be found in Amsterdam, Berlin, Brooklyn, Hamburg, London, Munich, Paris, Portland, and San Francisco.

Maker-Manufacturer Partnership Program

Etsy has scheduled a “manufacturing meetup” for April 26. Local nonprofits Riverworks, the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation, and the Greater Milwaukee Committee are teaming up with Etsy to host this event. Taking place in Milwaukee, these organizations are hoping to connect small businesses or just people with ideas to bigger manufacturing business or workers. Etsy found out that it was difficult for small businesses to grow because they didn’t have manufacturing abilities to produce their products on a larger scale. This event would allow users to meet and work with other designers and makers. This included areas of apparel and textiles, machining and fabrication, jewelry and metalsmithing, and printing. Etsy and others believes that this event will encourage small businesses to learn new skills that will help with their business. It will be a networking opportunity for sellers as well as the manufacturers who may help create products for these sellers in the future. Additionally, this event will only add more energy to Milwaukee’s already creative community. [28]

Ethical Guidelines

Restrictions on Selling and Buying Items

Etsy has an entire page of do's and don'ts listed on their website to police the content that is exchanged. They have rules regarding what counts as handmade or vintage goods as well as requirements for custom orders and charitable contributions. They have laid out specific requirements for shops, including requirements for sellers to act ethically in their selling of products and how they represent them online. Sellers are forbidden from using mature, profane, and racist language and images in their shop. There are also requirements for sellers to list and label items, for example items must be accurately described and represented and cannot use inaccurate or misleading terms. Buyers can only see what is put online and Etsy requires that the sellers do not take advantage of this fact and mislead buyers. There is also the issue of mature and prohibited content being sold or promoted through Etsy. Mature requirement has strict guidelines about when it can be included and the ways that users can avoid this type of content when using the site. There is also a list of prohibited items that Etsy does not allow on the site no matter what. They want to upkeep the "Spirit of Etsy" and claim that these items do not work with that spirit. Taken from the Etsy Help Page is this list of prohibited items:

  • Alcohol
  • Tobacco and other smokeable products
  • Drugs, medical drug claims about an item, drug paraphernalia
  • Live animals, illegal animal products
  • Human remains or body parts (excluding hair and teeth)
  • Pornography
  • Firearms and/or weapons
  • Hazardous materials (for example: flammable, explosive, corrosive, poisonous, etc.)
  • Recalled items
  • Real estate
  • Motor vehicles (for example: automobiles, motorcycles, boats, travel trailers, etc.)
  • Items or listings that promote, support or glorify hatred toward or otherwise demean people based upon: race, ethnicity, religion, gender, gender identity, disability, or sexual orientation; including items or content that promote organizations with such views
  • Items or listings that promote or support illegal activity or instruct others to engage in illegal activity
  • Items or listings that promote, support or glorify acts of violence or harm towards self or others


Restrictions on Interacting in the Etsy Community

Etsy has a blog, forums, and teams that all make up the greater Etsy Community. Etsy has laid out specific information for behavior that is allowed in these settings. The Etsy Help Page provides a list of requirements for interacting in the Etsy community:

  • Treat one another with respect. There is a real person behind each name.
  • If your account involves a person under the age of 18, you may not utilize the community features on Etsy unless otherwise specified by Etsy. (When using Etsy, those under 18 must, at all times, have the permission and supervision of a parent or legal guardian who is at least 18 years of age.)
  • Knowingly harassing, insulting or abusing other members is unacceptable.
  • The community spaces are not the appropriate channel to express disputes with others.
  • Discussing a specific member, shop or item (either by name or with identifiable hints) in a negative way is not allowed.
  • Specific transactions and/or feedback should not be discussed in public community spaces. Instead, contact Support privately if you need help with a transaction.
  • Do not publicly post another person's private information without their explicit consent (for example: email, Conversations, letters, phone numbers, addresses, full names or business transactions).
  • Do not use the community spaces to facilitate or arrange any sort of auction or transaction outside of Etsy's Checkout.
  • You may not use an undisclosed alternate account (also called a "sock puppet") in the community spaces.

Etsy asks that past these requirements, users use morals and ethical judgement in their online dealings with the site.


Ethical Controversies


In an effort to add social networking features to Etsy, the company implemented features allowing users to search other users' buying histories and to trace their purchasing transactions. Etsy thought that this feature would allow Etsy users to connect to individuals with similar buying and/or selling histories. However, it is generally agreed upon that such efforts to connect people violated users' right to privacy. [30]

Users can make their feed public or private. This means they can control who can see their favorited items, shops and treasuries. Users also have the option to block and unblock specific users.


It can be common to be scammed on Etsy as both a buyer and seller. Sellers can be scammed by a buyer, for example, if the buyer falsely claims they did not receive the item, forcing the seller to refund them. This means the faulty buyer essentially receives the item for free. [31] A buyer can be scammed by a seller if the seller does not fulfill their end of the bargin and send the buyer the product they paid for or a worse quality product than promised.

Ecologica Malibu

In April 2012, Etsy users began to demand the removal of Ecologica Malibu off its site after the shop was found to use a wholesale manufacturer. Users said that Ecologica Malibu went against the anti-big business values of Etsy.[32] C.E.O. Chad Dickerson replied to the matter in a blog post on the site where he said "Much of the information we learn from investigations can’t be shared with the larger community out of respect for the privacy of the seller being investigated, so there is a natural divergence between what the community sees when they report a seller and what we see as we go deeper on the case. … [T]here are times when available public evidence suggests that a violation of our policy is clear, and our investigations find that it’s actually not the case.” [33] Many users are still not contented by Dickerson's response.[34]


In May 2012, the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP contacted Etsy in regards to their allowance of the sale of racist memorabilia. Etsy's site policy states that sellers can not post "Items or listings that promote, support or glorify hatred toward or otherwise demean people based upon: race, ethnicity, religion, gender, gender identity, disability, or sexual orientation; including items or content that promote organizations with such views"[35], however Etsy continues to allow users to sell Gollywog Dolls and posters portraying African-Americans in a negative light. [36] When Etsy was contacted via The Grio, an NBC-operated African-American news site, Etsy's Adam Brown replied “We encourage our members to report or ‘flag’ items or sellers they feel are not compliant with Etsy’s marketplace policies, which they can do via a link on every listing or shop page...We can’t comment on private communications or on specific cases.". [37] A petition has been created in the hopes that Etsy will take down offensive merchandise off their site. [38]

Sale of Aryan Nations Memorabilia

Etsy decided to remove and blocked the sale of Aryan Nations memorabilia. The products had been posted for sale by Morris Gulett. An Esty spokeswoman responded to the report by saying, “Etsy does not allow items that support or commemorate current or historical hate groups, including propaganda or collectibles.” The link to these products is now unavailable. Etsy’s policy prohibits the sale of hate-related items. As soon as Etsy becomes aware of products that violate their policies, they remove them. There is currently no formal way to know exactly when prohibited products appear on the site. [39]

Cause Crafting

During certain times of the year or when causes arise that people wish to support, sellers will promote items related to that theme. Often times items are promoted alongside these that follow a similar style or look, related to the cause, but are not actually there to support and donate to the cause. Others use the cause as a way to promote their products without actually making a donation[40]. Etsy has a section on their "Do's and Dont's" page [25] that explains rules regarding these types of promotions but they are not always followed, and Etsy has committed fouls on their own side as well.

One instance of this that left a strong impression on users was with Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Pink items were advertised as part of Etsy's "Tickled Pink" campaign. Many sellers donated the full price of the item to the cause but others, including ones that explicitly contained Breast Cancer Awareness logos or themes, did not donate any portion of their proceeds. They were, in effect, using the BCAM association as a marketing tool and buyers misunderstood that their purchases were not actually going to support breast cancer research. Some of the items did not have any connection to the cause and Etsy was "pinkwashing" or simply promoting pink colored items as fitting for the theme. Many buyers were angered over this "pinkwashing" they saw Etsy as guilty of committing [41].


Some competitors of Etsy include:, Craigslist, DaWanda, Bonanza, Shopleaf, eFreeme, Ebay, TrEmbu, kollaborra, SilkFair, and GroopDealz. All of these sites feature homemade products, vintage goods, and/or art supplies.

Etsy's European CEO, Matt Stinchcomb, told the European news site Exberliner, "At first I was wary of the clones, but I have changed my tune. As far as I am concerned, the more people highlighting the value of supporting micro-producers and buying handmade and vintage directly from them, the better."[42]

See Also

External Links


  1. 1.0 1.1 Etsy Website "About" Section
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Etsy Website - Press Articles
  3. [1]
  4. Etsy's about page
  5. CNN Article: "How Etsy, eBay, Reddit got their names"
  6. Etsy Website: "Introducing Etsy's New Chief Operating Officer"
  7. Tech Crunch Website: "Exec Changes at Etsy: Adam Freed Steps Down from COO Role"
  8. NY Times: "One on One: Chad Dickerson, C.E.O. of Etsy"
  9. Etsy News Blog: "Etsy Alumni: Maria Thomas"
  10. NY Times: "Etsy Raises $40 Million for International Expansion"
  11. Etsy News Blog: "Safety (and Privacy) First"
  12. Dickerson, C. (2015). “Etsy Has Filed a Registration for an IPO”. Etsy.
  13. Gurley, B. (2015). "Etsy’s IPO is a Milestone for New York’s Startup Scene". Wall Street Journal.
  14. Etsy Website: "Learn How to Sell"
  15. Pattern by Etsy
  16. Etsy Launches Pattern
  17. Etsy Website: Home and Living
  18. Etsy: Categories
  19. Etsy Website: Shopping Cart
  20. Etsy Website: Wedding Registry
  21. Etsy Website: Community
  22. Etsy Website: The Etsy Blog
  23. [2]
  24. Feedback
  25. 25.0 25.1 Prohibited Items
  26. Etsy Website: Etsy Local - Support your neighborhood by buying and selling nearby
  27. Etsy Website: All About Etsy FAQ Series
  28. Maker-Manufacturer Meetup
  29. 29.0 29.1 Etsy Help Page: "Do's and Don'ts"
  30. Ars Technica Website: "Etsy users irked after buyers, purchases exposed to the world"
  31. [3] Latest Scams and the Etsy System that Facilitates It
  32. The Daily Dot: "Etsy CEO responds to reseller controversy"
  33. Etsy News Blog: Notes from Chad
  34. Etsy Website: Discussions: "Responses to policy concerns, and a note from Chad"
  35. Etsy Help: Prohibited Items
  36. Etsy Website: Negro Collectibles
  37. The Grio: NBC News: "Popular craft site Etsy accused of racism for selling Sambo, Golliwog memorabilia
  38. Website: "Tell Etsy to Stop Profitting from Prohibited Items"
  39. Etsy removes Aryan Nations Memorabilia
  40. Etsy Website: Discussions: "Tickled Pink" - Ethics on "Cause" Crafters
  41. blog post about pinkwashing
  42. Exberliner: "Five Questions for..."

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