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HomeNEWSHow did that happen: Digital craft markets

How did that happen: Digital craft markets

Ever since the launch of American craft market Etsy, handmade artisanal products have become a full revenue stream for a lot of individuals looking to cash in on their craftmanship. Yet now a more Kiwi-focused version has sprung forward as New Zealanders leverage creative projects.

Marketplaces for handmade goods like soaps and childrenswear have seen a growth in popularity lately as consumers look for more authentic items and are encouraged to shop locally.

Etsy is no doubt the most popular, and profitable, platform for handmade products worldwide. Since being listed on the stock market in 2015, it has reached over 1.5 million sellers using the platform and just under 20 million buyers globally.

Craft markets are no new thing, but their digitalisation and subsequent growth in popularity is. Instead of walking through a batch of small stalls, pursing goods on a Sunday morning, craft buyers can now scroll through Etsy or its Kiwi counterparts Felt and Creative Hush.

Both Felt and Creative Hush are craft-type platforms that rely on a handful of rules. Among them are: all products must be handmade, produced in New Zealand and must be listed by the person who made them. These platforms allow consumers to have a direct relationship with the creator, and visa-versa.

These platforms allow creatives to become retailers and handle the in and out of their own products. Most will charge a commission for selling but will provide a free platform to sell on. However, Etsy has been having issues that smaller Kiwi platforms are avoiding – that is, a lot of what is searched for and sold is being mass-produced by outside manufacturers.

Running on a platform is a lot like owning your own business, and can provide people with the freedom and restrictions that involves. These include being responsible for every part of your creative process and selling those items. Most sellers on these platforms are operating as individuals, so although an increase of foot traffic means profit, it also means increased work.

The lines are blurred for the American site but both Felt and Creative Hush guidelines state that all products must be handmade in New Zealand, with some obvious exceptions to packaging and prints.

Both sites also are more exclusive than the American version, with aspiring Kiwi retailers needing to apply and go through a screening process for their ‘shop’ to be verified.

Etsy was created in 2005, and since then selling homemade items through a third-party site has been easier for anyone with a creative streak to get into. New Zealand has a lot of talented people that lack the time or funds to retail out their own items. These platforms give these artisans the opportunity to run their own stores and completely self-manage the sales that may come through.

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