Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Etsy to Sweatsy by Regretsy author April Winchell, My Review of her article on her opinion of Etsy's Upcoming IPO.

Pug says "What?"
Former publisher of  Regretsy, April Winchell  published her opinion of Etsy's on upcoming IPO in THIS ARTICLE on Motherboard.

April is best known for nasty-fun posts about handmade items for sale at Etsy with her hilarious comments.  A kind of guilty pleasure which ended when she published a book instead.  So she knows Etsy.

April humorously discusses Etsy's transition from a Handmade site (yes, including the badly made handmade), to a site that uses the reputation and cache of "handmade" to basically sell anything to up its profits to ready itself for the stock market investor.

I want to tell you she is totally off base here.  Because I sell both vintage and my own pet and house portrait art at Etsy.  But I can't.

When Etsy introduced the factory concept a year and a half ago, every staffer said items HAD to be at least designed by the owner, disclosed if it used a factory, that full disclosure of all workers if not a factory would be disclosed and very strict monitoring would take place.  And that they were sure no child labor was involved because a lot of them took a trip to China to make sure.  Somehow knowing in advance that the Etsy artisan who got too big to do every task to produce their own work would NOT contract out to a factory anywhere but.  As April notes, Etsy is not requiring those things, or else isn't monitoring in an acceptable level.

Orange & White Cat Oil Painting by me
One of the searches I do from time to time is "bridesmaid dresses".  I remember in the early days being so impressed that there were actually independent little dress designers working out of their home studios or a shopfront they rented, designing, cutting, sewing and SELLING high quality clothing, including bridesmaid dresses.

So for me that is a canary in the room.  How's the canary singing now?  What I see now on the front pages of search are:

"Cheap Bridesmade Dress!"  Who is the owner?  A name, a photo of someone who designed...nothing. Oh, by the way, they say,  "We prefer direct contact to ugly threats, believe me we have them."  No kidding.

Another that is prominently featured in the search results, happily selling away at "Handmade Etsy" has an owner who never once mentions designing or even ever having worked on a dress.  In fact, his claim to fame according to his self-reported bio is that he worked managing factories!  Name redacted:

"The owner  X  joined in dress business since 2004 after i graduated from university. At that time firstly worked in a large Hongkong based garment factory responsible for large USA brand such as: Macy and Nordstrom as well as some other brands from Europe countries,  X was working in the factory as a team leader. after working in the factory for years with his strong team, he set up his own factory with his team together. with the factory development smoothly and steadily. Last year, with the support of his factory, he lead his team to set up the dress studio/shop to provide the dresses to the customers."

They aren't even trying to pretend to be handmade, designed by the owner, or anything remotely associated with what Etsy claims it is!

And another who claims to do all the work herself from designing to cutting to sewing to shipping and somehow is able to accept  7 to 9 orders a day, every day.  Come on.

This just one search, one I'm familiar with so can write about.  Just multiply it out for just about every type of "handmade" there is.  If I can such obvious offenders of the Etsy TOU within a minute, Etsy can, too.  Others have painstakingly not only found shops violating the TOU, but reported them to Etsy, they say, including links to all over the internet where the exact items are selling, to no avail.  Yet Etsy claims when they investigate these shops, they are all "Etsy legal".  
Drawing of my Boxer dog, Sarge

I am afraid April Winchell is spot on.  I'm sad she is.  I am okay with Etsy going public.  I'd like to invest. But I want to invest in a company that is what it says it is and does what it says it would.   And for a totally, totally selfish reason.  I want to keep selling my pet and house portraits there.  And I fear as more and more potential buyers discover, as I did, that Etsy is not what it claims to be, that all of us will lose.  As April says, "Some corporations have the integrity to tell you who they are, even if you don’t like what they have to say."

That's the Etsy I want to invest in.

I'm Robin Zebley, a pet, house and kid portrait artist from just outside Philadelphia.  My site is, and my etsy shop is

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