Utah Valley entrepreneurs go international through Etsy

Since Etsy emerged on the Internet in 2005, it has grown into a diverse online marketplace  where creators and collectors of homemade, handmade and vintage items can indulge their particular interests.

“Handmade is cooler and funkier,” said Alyssa Udall, who runs a jewelry shop called Chewlry on Etsy. “You can find totally unique things that you wouldn’t find anywhere else.”

Local creators have taken advantage of Etsy’s marketplace, along with millions of others. Udall’s interest in handmade jewelry began when her mother taught her how to make jewelry last year and has since grown into a full-time commitment because of its growth on Etsy.

“I started making jewelry and my sister told me about Etsy, and I started selling on it,” Udall said of her initial introduction to the selling process. “We did parties and farmers markets and then the shop, but it was there. It was a trial. We started Chewlry all at once in January.”

Udall said her experience was initially part-time, but when she was laid off in February, her time spent with Chewlry and Etsy increased as her customer-base  went beyond Utah Valley and her home in Provo.

“We have a pretty good national and international base,” Udall said.

Local creators have utilized the website for both marketing and networking with other sellers.

“I grew sales more in real life, but publicity is stronger on Etsy,” said Ashley Isenhour of her handmade hair band and clip shop called Wendy and Peter. “It gets lots of publicity. In the crafty, bloggy world you probably know about it. It makes it easier for me because they [the bloggers] are already on Etsy.”

Much of the momentum behind the growth of these shops comes from the utilization of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, as well as the blogs that emphasize the types of products found on each website. Udall said her marketing approach has utilized these online tools on a regular basis. Their time spent on these websites has given these Etsy users a familiarity with the market and has qualified them to give words of advice for those looking to buy and sell on the site in the future.

Udall suggests that because Etsy has grown so much, particularly in the last two years, that sellers take on a more aggressive marketing campaign in order to grow. In addition, she says that when picking a name for a shop, make sure it is something that can be remembered for a long time. She also pointed out that the seller needs to be aware how photographs show the product.

Isenhour also advises sellers to be aware of bad photographs and also suggests a cohesive page that is updated frequently in order to be more successful. She said Etsy can be a little bit slow at first, but the more time spent with Etsy will attract more business.

From a buyer’s perspective, some of the most significant suggestions are about shipping. If you know you’re buying local, it might be a good idea to ask about shipping, Isenhour recommended. Some of the shops are willing to help out.

Udall recommends that buyers read a shop’s announcements and policies before buying because it can help determine when the product will arrive.

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