I’ve written before about why I love Etsy, but I think my favorite thing about the site is the warm sense of community. Sure, we are all trying to sell things, but the atmosphere is not one of cutthroat competition. People in the forums are always willing to help others with techniques, business advice, or constructive criticism of their shop. And the Etsy community works to make new sellers feel welcome.
The encouragement and support given to new sellers is best represented by the Sneak Attack, founded by Etsy seller Michael Phipps. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday a group of supportive Etsians gather and at 7:00 attack a new shop. What kind of attack, you might ask? A sales attack!
I participated in my first sneak attack on April 24. On that day, two fine shops were chosen as the target: YaneShops and SecretLolita. I got cool magnetic bookmarks from YaneShops and a gorgeous kanzashi hair clip from SecretLolita.
Janelle opened YaneShops when her stepmother asked her to help sell some embroidery. “I had thought about having a shop of my own before,” she recalls, “but didn’t know how to get started and I didn’t have enough inventory so having her things to include as well is what pushed me.”
Laura of SecretLolita first started making kanzashi for herself to wear with kimonos. “After making 100 of them and learning how to make them I realized I had many more than I could ever wear. So I started selling them…” After first selling to a friend, she decided to open SecretLolita on Etsy so she could experiment with a wide variety of kanzashi styles.
Neither Janelle nor Laura had heard of Sneak Attacks until their shops were targeted. “I came home to see my first sale and I was really pleased,” Lara remembers, “then lots of other emails…I thought it must be messing up and sending the same email repeatedly.”
Janelle was equally shocked. “When I noticed something I had just listed was missing I thought I had done something wrong” After the shock and confusion passed, both sellers were thrilled. “It was so exciting,” says Janelle. “Then I found out what had happened,” recalls Laura, “and it really made me feel like part of the family.”
Laura really feels like part of the handmade movement. “It is important—yes yes yes. I respect artists and crafts-people so much.” Besides selling kanzashi on Etsy, Laura has her own architecture business that does custom, eco-friendly construction. “So I am really part of the handmade movement in my career as well as my hobbies,” she notes.
When I asked Janelle if she considered herself part of a handmade movement, she admitted that she hadn’t really thought about it. But on reflection she stressed the value of handmade: “I think it is great to help people directly so they can do something they really enjoy and not be stuck at a boring job…” Buying handmade doesn’t just support crafts people though. According to Janelle, “Shopping Handmade can also help us regain trust in people.”
Anyone can participate in a sneak attack, but be warned—they are incredibly fun and highly addictive! I did my second sneak attack on May 1, and got a beautiful handmade book from parksideharmony. Even if you can’t afford to make a purchase you can support sneak attacks by hanging out in the sneak attack thread to help keep the movement visible. Today is Wednesday, so be sure to pop in the sneak attack thread, and visit the Handmade Movement website around 7:00 to see which shop will be attacked tonight!
Also, stay tuned for Sneak Attack Part Two–The attackers!