{iStyle} Etsy me, please.

By Bonzi via Etsy

By: Jenn Ortiz, guest blogger

I recently ordered my first item from Etsy. When it finally came in the mail, it was beautifully wrapped in a brown paper envelope and twine with printed cloth label that had a key attached… and it came from Ireland. What? Ireland? I was surprised. I had not really paid attention to where it was coming from. There was no excessive shipping cost that set off a flag that this item came from outside the US. Something about the whole experience felt so different. I was intrigued.

Powdered Sugar Dress by Sarah Seven via Etsy.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with Etsy, it is a company and an online community of shops that features handmade items and some vintage. While Etsy has been compared to E-bay and called “E-bay’s little sister”, I don’t believe that to be correct. Etsy has no auctions and has limitations to what can and can’t be sold that are much stricter than E-bay. Etsy facilitates and promotes buyer-seller communication. There is a real connection formed. (Also, this allows for custom orders.) Buyers also like that they are supporting a cause, a real person, and a movement. The reasons we buy are often more emotional than we care to admit. Being able to form a relationship and feel valued when you are buying (consuming so often being painted a selfish act) validates the experience.

Morchella in Coral Pink by Morelle via Etsy.

For sellers, Etsy is extremely accessible; anyone with a credit card can have an Etsy store. This is extraordinary and give a fair chance to shop owners/designers that they may not otherwise have. A dress designer, like Sarah Seven, can offer extremely beautiful, custom order dresses to the world. (In the past two months, I’ve seen quite a bit of this seller and she now has a website. My guess, is things are going well.) The press has taken note of Etsy and it’s sellers. A variety of magazines, including Lucky and Glamour, have featured items by Etsy sellers or entire stores. Etsy was also named in Fast Company‘s Top 50 Businesses.

Love letters written in spring...... Vintage locket and floral handmade by New Fashioned Whispers via Etsy.

And, of course, the blogosphere is all over Etsy like white on rice. Blogging is a suggested form of promoting an Etsy shop, but even bloggers who do not have a shop (like Bloomacious and Design is Mine) frequently post up items they have found. Many bloggers proudly display a “I took the Handmade Pledge” badge, again supporting the more personal, almost grassroots consumption. No wonder Etsy has become so successful!

Rainbow Moonstone Flower with Keshi Waterfall Earrings by Fuss Jewelry via Etsy.

The appeal to buyers and sellers is easy to pinpoint: inexpensive listings, easy to use site, and a world-wide reach. When you combine Etsy’s functionality with the requirement that goods be handmade of vintage, the result is a variety of unique and often inexpensive items being showcased to the world.

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Jenn Ortiz is a graduate of the University of Florida with degrees in History and Latin American Studies with hopes to pursue a PhD in Child Development. She believes there is beauty in everything around us; from the inside out, outside in. She currently runs {Bits of Beauty}, a place you just feel good about.

Copyright © 2009 Sasha H. Muradali. All Rights Reserved.