It’s officially November and my thoughts are turning toward the holidays. I don’t want to rush straight from Halloween into the Christmas season, but I’ve learned (the hard way, of course) that I’m much happier if I plan ahead for Christmas. And that means starting now.
Like for gifts. Each year we get a little more picky about the gifts we buy for our friends and family: we want to get them something meaningful, not just a gift card to a big box store. And we’re becoming more and more conscientious about who we’re ultimately giving our money to when we’re buying those gifts.
This year, we’re planning to buy more handmade gifts from small cottage industries. I love the trend I’m seeing: more and more women are using the internet to operate small businesses out of their homes. I think it’s a great thing that these women are able to make an (often small) income by doing something crafty that they love, and I want to support these women by buying from their businesses.
There are several venues cottage industries can use. Sarah Scoggins, who knitted that darling hat I showed you yesterday, sells through her facebook page. Some women sell through their blogs. But Etsy is far and away the most popular online marketplace for handmade (and vintage) goods.
Etsy describes itself as “the world’s handmade marketplace.” There’s an amazing variety of items for sale on Etsy–jewelry, clothing, wall art, accessories, patterns, pottery–the variety is astounding. An individual can open her own online “shop” and use Etsy’s ready-made storefront to sell her wares. (Etsy charges the shop owner a 20-cent listing fee and 3.5% of the sale price of each item for its services.) If you’re on Pinterest, you’ve probably seen a huge number of Etsy-listed items without even realizing it, because so many items are pinned from Etsy!
I love that I can buy beautiful gifts that my family members will love and support these small businesses by doing it. But for this all to work out, I have to plan ahead. Because these cottage industries operate on a small scale, shipping deadlines are often in early December or even November. So I’m starting my Christmas shopping now, right at the beginning of November. And I want to have all my Etsy purchases ordered by Thanksgiving.
To really succeed with their cottage industries, these women need to build a reputation, find some regular customers and get great reviews for their shops. It’s not enough for them to make beautiful items to sell–they need customers, too! Can we help them succeed by spreading the word? If you have a favorite cottage industry you’ve had a great experience with, whether it’s through someone’s etsy shop, facebook page or in real life, would you share a bit about your experience in comments?
And if you have a cottage industry, would you please put a link to your etsy shop, facebook page, blog or other venue in the comments so we can support you with our gift-buying purchases this holiday season?