Etsy announced that it will soon launch Etsy Manufacturing, a new program that pairs product designers with manufacturers. A couple years ago, Etsy began letting approved sellers use production assistance, and the new move could be seen as something of an expansion of that.
The company says it wants to make it easier for sellers to "source responsible production assistance" when they need it.
"We changed our policies in 2013 for a few reasons," says Etsy's Heather Jassy. "First, we’d encountered a number of artists who were working in truly thoughtful ways that weren’t allowed within Etsy’s policies. We’d also been following the evolution in small-scale manufacturing, and believed (as we still do) that designers and makers can work cooperatively with others to bring their ideas to life in ways that are good for communities and good for commerce. Most of all, we wanted to empower sellers to construct their businesses and lives in ways that work best for them, on their own terms. Our sellers tell us over and over that growing responsibly is important to them, and we want to enable that."
Since June, Etsy has approved about 5,000 outside manufacturers, resulting in over 7,800 partnerships. When the company reviews seller applications for manufacturer partnerships, it focuses on authorship, responsibility, and transparency. Creation of items must begin with the seller, the seller must be "invested and knowledgeable" about production of the items, and the seller must represent their products "openly, honesty, and accurately".
"Our vision of responsible manufacturing centers on people, access and transparency," says Jassy. "It’s a model in which Etsy designers can preserve the spirit of craftsmanship and grow responsibly by collaborating with small-scale manufacturers to make their goods. We believe that the often faceless, opaque model of mass manufacture is due for an overhaul; the people and processes behind partnerships can be celebrated."
Etsy Manufacturing takes the form of a new marketplace in which sellers can find and connect with prospective manufacturers. Etsy is starting with the apparel and textiles, machining and fabrication, printing, and jewelry and metalwork categories. While this is all fine and good, the company admits that during the program's pilot, sellers have found it difficult to find a good partner. Ultimately, finding a good one still falls upon the seller. While Etsy does review applications, it doesn't do direct audits or site visits.
Etsy Manufacturing will launch in the United States and Canada.
Image via Etsy