Tag Archives: etsy

Drawing-a-Day: He Must be on Crack

Ink mix0057
"He Must be on Crack" is a satirical piece about @rokali the founder of etsy. Etsy is now being represented in the media as a "flea market." I read the recent article about Rob in whatever magazine he was recently interviewed in and all I could say after each paragraph is, "He must be smoking crack." It measures A5 or 5.75×7.5 inches. I did a quick sketch with pencil and then used a Lamy Safari with a B nib filled with Noodler's Black ink for the black lines and color was added with watercolors, the background and all red in the piece is done with Noodler's Nikita and a brush.


However I started a zazzle store just for this image. You can get some shitty post cards, a crappy mug, a badly designed sticker, an eye searing poster and if approved some crack smokin' postage stamps.

make custom gifts at Zazzle

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Facebook Me

I've set up a page on Facebook, you can find it here. I link to my new items and put up some pictures. All good stuff. I also have been experimenting with some online contests. Follow me on Facebook to find out more.

What I really want to write about today is Etsy's new Facebook feature in which when you heart an item a link pops up under the "heart this link" that says "facebook this item." Very, very cool.You have a chance at link an item for your friends to see, it could be a neat way of telling friends "hint hint I'd like this in large for my birthday" or it could just be a fantastic way of linking to an item so lots of people can see it.

I read on the forum (I know I know, I hate taht plce but can't resist  a link to it from twitter) that a lot of people were looking at this as spam for their facebook account. In a way I suppose if you abuse it, it is, BUT I look at it form a customer's perspective and not a seller's perspective, as in "How cool is it that I can link to all these awesome items?" Etsy should have rolled this out to  buyers and not so much sellers. It hink that etsy sellers are an easy sold to target. Let's face it the buyers spend less time on the site than we do, they might spend hours browsing the items but they aren't listing items and don't have the same involvement on a day to day basis that sellers do.

What I'm saying is this: wicked cool feature but not so much for sellers, email that stuff out to the buyers etsy and yo've got something cool on your hands. It would b nice if you set it up so we could send a link to Twitter in the same breath. I tweet way more than I facebook.*

SO if you are a buyer on etsy or even a seller, go on there and heart a few items today and put them up on your facebook for the world to see. Sellers get your friends to SIGN UP for etsy today and start linking to items!

*artfire has a tweet this item link on the left side of each items page, pops up with a micro url and some text already in it, I'd love it if they did a facebook link too. It's super easy to use.

What about my needs? Who’s going to meet them best Etsy or Artfire?

So through this whole Etsy debacle I’ve been thinking a lot about
what I want out of a selling website. I went through this with eBay. I was with
eBay early in its creation. I like to be on the ground floor of something.
Every website goes through some growing pains as it grows and brings in new
customers and stretches its base audience from a few die hard users to a more
casual set of users. If Etsy were truly shifting itself from the standard
business base model of bottom line growth they would not do this. But let’s
face it Etsy is a business as much as eBay it. The issue with its growth is
that it’s a community of sellers administrated by a hierarchy. The problem is
that the community sees themselves as independent and needn’t answer to a
hierarchy. The issue with any business is that for it to run smoothly it must
have a leader, and that means a hierarchy. Here we have the fundamental issue
with the Etsy system: a hierarchy over independents. It’s the same issue that
eBay had as it grew. The larger the system the more control the hierarchy needs
over its system. When you’ve built that system over independents it’s hard to
gain control.

Let’s face it Etsy did a crap job of it and has across the
years. One of the things I’ve learned as I’ve worked in the retail world as a
grunt, a supervisor and now from the HR side of things is that there are styles
of leadership. There is the do-as-I-say where the leader barks out orders and
the grunts follow them and if they don’t they are disciplined back into order.
Here the grunts are miserable and have little investment. The other style of
leadership that is applicable to this discussion is where the leader discusses
the orders and listens to the grunts. The leader says “here is what I want done”
and leaves it to the grunts as to how it gets done. Grunts love this style, it
invests them in the outcome and allows them freedom to think. You can tell a
new leader because they all start out as “do-as-I-say” types, barking orders
and having employee issues. After awhile someone tells them about the
communication approach and they see it works.

As I see things I think this is where Etsy went wrong, as a
young leader they don’t inform the grunts of changes in advance, they make them
and don’t bother telling the grunts. If they told their sellers of changes in
advance most of us would have rode the wave out and seen what happened on the other
end. They could have had more useful and meaningful conversations with the
sellers over issues they were having by opening a thread in the forums titled “what
have you noticed since the SEO changes happened?” They would have had thousands
of unpaid watchful eyes taking note of changes. This data could have been
invaluable. Instead Etsy left it to the sellers to discover the issue and post
rants and raves in the forums. So rather than having an intelligent discussion
on the issue, we were left with angry forum posts full of piss and vinegar.

I’ve seen the young leader approach a dozen times before,
when questioned they invariably come back at you with “I know best.” Sadly it’s
not always the case. Opening up a dialog with the sellers opens up a lot of
information and it’s too bad Etsy didn’t go that route.

The thing is that I need that form a sales location. I need
open and honest communication. I’ve rarely seen a successful leader that hasn’t
employed open and honest communication. It goes with the territory. I’m not
saying that Etsy HQ need to post to the blog or forums every time they get a
new desk or chair but when something comes through that they think MIGHT have
an effect on their sellers they should open up a discussion or send a
conversation to us, or put something up in the heading on the sellers page.

I would love to see Etsy increase its customer base, believe
me I love that they are interested in growing their sales, I know they don’t
care who gets those sales, the bottom line dollars are bottom line dollars.
Funneling buyers through the hard to use search ont eh front page isn’t going
to help. It’s going to lose them. The search function works marginally better
than it used to but it’s still rough and makes me unhappy. As a seller I need a
search function that works and the best way for them to fix that is to take
some of those millions they are grossing (what are Etsy’s net profits anyway?)
and hire a team of tag investigators that do nothing but investigate miss
tagged items as reported by the sellers and buyers. I’m sick and tired of
miss-tagged items on Etsy. It drives me insane.

So my needs from a sales site are as follows:

  1.  Open and honest communication about changes in
  2.  A fix on the search function
  3.  Miss Tagged items taken care of, in a timely
  4.  A more democratic front page

For the record I’d still be with eBay if it wasn’t skewed
for the big sellers and resellers of stuff. In the end after eBay and PayPal
fees I ended up giving up something like 15% of my item price to eBay.
Currently Etsy fees are about 6% on a $9.99 item (not including paypal fees).
ArtFire is a flat rate for a month the more sales the less it will be
percentage-wise for me.

I hope Etsy uses this to wake up and move from the do-as-I-say
leader model to the communicative mature leader model it’s time for Etsy to be
grown up and learn top down decisions with independent sellers don’t pan out
well for them.

I meant for this post to be more about Etsyhacks.com I don’t
have the money to support them right now but once I start selling again I will.
They have some greasemonkey scripts for FireFox that make using Etsy so much
easier and enjoyable. Head over and check it out.

quality matters so represent

Here is something that bugs the hell out of me: when people
put badly done work out there. I was searching on Etsy and came upon a seller
making Coptic bound books. The covers were fantastic. So I looked at a bunch of
their work. I found several books in their shop that I’d have been embarrassed to
list myself. Why? Loose and sloppy stitching, crooked stitches, and spines that
were lined up with the holes in the books and not the spine edge of the cover. This
was selling for top dollar too. The seller had listed it with the rest of their
listings as if it were the same quality.* ARGH.

I have 2 main issues with this practice by sellers. First it
gives sellers of handmade goods a bad impression. By selling that book that
seller is making all bookbinders look bad in the eyes of the buyer. As sellers
of handmade goods we have to remember that we represent ALL the other makers of
the same goods. When that book fails it will leave a bad taste in the mouth of
the buyer. That seller is looking to make a quick buck but ultimately will
tarnish his/her image.

Here is my second issue: Its bad customer service. Pure and
simple putting out a subpar product will only damage your image in the eyes of
your buyers. Craftspeople have a hard enough time selling our goods without
people selling badly done work. No matter where it’s sold it doesn’t matter
when you put your work out there you represent your work and all the other
people who make something similar. Buyers who learn through use and looking at
other handmade items will soon learn the flaws of a poorly made item. They will
be unhappy. They will not be back. They will feel scammed.

A note to buyers: If you’re looking for some Coptic bound
books where the seller has pride in their craft, does great work and has some
spot on design skill? Check these sellers out:

KateBlack.Etsy.com Her books are amazing, well designed and
well made

MyHandBoundBooks Very well made and fun books

Kristincrane.etsy.com Well made fun and funky and a lot of

Additionally, buyers should feel like they can ask a seller
questions. ASK questions of the binder. Ask how long they have been making
books. My suggestion ould be to not buy books from anyone who been making them
less than 6 months. Bookbinding is not an easy to learn craft and one that take
patience and practice to get good at. I’ve been binding for close to 10 years
and when I take a break from a particular binding style, I always make a few
screw up books, and Coptic is one of those styles you foul up on. Even when I
am making them on a regular basis I screw up regularly.

So for those of you who are sellers, if you must sell a
piece please label it as a second, list the quality faults, be honest with your
buyers and represent all of us well.

 *One could argue that perhaps the seller didn’t know that
this was a flaw, but before going on my tirade I looked at the rest of the shop
and found several books made properly and many books with different designs.
This was obviously a seller who knew better!

Mad Matchbook Binding Project of ’07

Holy cow. I call this the mad matchbook binding project of ‘07!
Over the last 3 days I’ve cut paper, cut covers, stapled and folded 36 matchbook
notebooks all are 2.5×3 inches and .5 inches thick. I cut myself through a 2-inch
thick stack of recycled fliers printed on one side and blank on the other. It’s
really thick nice paper, about 50 sheets per notebook. I’ve been using a few of
these from my last batch and I’ve got to say that they are really handy on a
number of levels; great for lists, notes, and passing phone numbers as well as
numerous other things.
36 of them, my hands are sore form cutting so much paper, a definite
nod to the fact that I need a paper sheer if I’m going to continue to work with
recycled paper.

Anyway, enjoy the pics, these will be headed to etsy tomorrow
or Sunday.




Book Board

I made a few covers book board and paper from my stash of decorative papers. I made them to specifically cover hedgehog book blocks. So each cover is 3.5×5.5 inches and the spine is .75 inches thick.

To go with these covers I made some paper covered hemp cored headbands. These are glue on style and you probably can’t see them in the pictures, but they are there. I used dark red/burgundy colored washi paper. I used it because it’s thin, glues easily and I knew would wrap around the hemp cord with ease. I also knew that once it was glued up it would become stiffer than it was before and even with that the washi would absorb glue easily as I stuck it to spines. I’ve seen several other methods of making end/head bands before with fabric, paper and one I particularly liked was one that uses ribbon.

I’m listing one of these to etsy, one to ebay and keeping one.





This one will go on eBay.


The one above is mine. 🙂



This is a shot of all the other covers that I’ve made. I"m pretty happy with how they came out now I need to make some more bookblocks. 🙂

recap of this week in the studio

Phew it’s been a busy week here at Comfortable Shoes Studio. I’ve been crazily busy with the DayJob as well as in the studio. Yup, fresh new books. I’ve got a stack of graph paper jotters, a group of cardstock hedgehogs, a couple of kraft paper hedgehogs and a 100% cotton hedgehog all headed for etsy.

I’ll post links to etsy when I get them loaded up. I’m pretty excited to get some leather books back up to etsy, it’s been awhile and the recycled notebooks seemed to be taking over my shop. While I was in the studio I cut several large notebook sized covers from this chunk of sleek black cowhide I’ve got, they will be fantastic with either white or red stitching…. Keep an eye out for those too. I’m going to work on designing the spines today.

Here are some pics to occupy you until then:


Yes, that is graph paper