Etsy – Beyond Brands and Boarders

It is suddenly worth it to be a designer – who would have thought that I could broadcast my designs all over the world?

Eleonora is an Italian designer, for her designs she finds inspiration in music and nature, and I absolutely love her shoes! She has a small store in Barcelona, and I would have never ever heard about her – if there wasn’t Etsy. 

For me, as an online shopper, Etsy brings the colors of the world to the palm of my hand. I get access to all these amazing designers and store owners and suddenly Italian shoes are not out of reach. I also hate brand shopping, which is the easiest and most obvious, but then I end up with the same dress as everyone. I am looking for something unique, that you can’t find every day. 

For Eleonora, Etsy has changed the world. She is used to have a lot of traffic in her store – mostly tourists that come and go. But Eleonora’s dream from ever since she started sketching shoes on a napkin – was to become big. She wanted people to reach out to her, to look for her designs, to ask for more colors, more sizes. She was dreaming about women that buy one pair, and like it so much so they come again… Since she registered on Etsy, she has almost 3,000 followers, and has above 300 designs offered on her personal page. She is continuously updating her profile, publishing new designs and recommending her fellow designers. 

Actually, Eleonora’s whole business model changed: she kept her store in place, but most of her time is invested in fulfilling on-line orders. Her house is full of the most popular designs, so she might need to rent a small warehouse, but no doubt it will be much cheaper. The close interactions with the customers really taught her what they like, and she has so much energy to create new designs. It is just unbelievable how personal it is, even if it is across the whole world!


Etsy is a clear an exhibit of direct network affect. As every market place – the buyers and the sellers come together to one place. The more sellers might mean more competition, but it also means more customers that come to shop, and so – there is more for everyone. Specifically with Etsy, I believe that competition isn’t even an issue, since every seller brings it’s unique designs and character, and each of them is just looking to the right customer that is currently online.

The value creation for the designers is the success factor for Etsy. The level of transformation that their small business can go through since Etsy exists is unbelievable, and can enable them reach scales that they have never dreamt about. With minimal cost on their side, they can open a page at Etsy, and feature their work. They have an opportunity to contact a new crowd, that wouldn’t have bought these products, and so even if there might be some fee paid to the platform – it is still a positive outcome. Designers, as artists, are probably driven by the need to display their work to the world, and so – they came. And now, with so many designers at one place – won’t the customers come as well? Etsy invests in creating a community of sellers and buyers, so you never feel alone.

The value capture is a small slice from every activity on the platform: listing, transaction, payment processing, delivery and warehousing. Since they have so much traffic, Etsy uses ads as well: in every search that you do – the first links are subsidized links that the seller paid more to make sure that you see it.

To conclude, I see Etsy as creating a pie that everyone can share and enjoy, and I hope that many artists transfer their dream to reality through this lovely platform.



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Student comments on Etsy – Beyond Brands and Boarders

  1. Couldn’t agree more about Etsy – it’s transformed the way artists reach their followers, and has made it easier for them to make a living doing what they love. I think Etsy is a prime example that network effects are paving the way for people to follow their passions rather than pigeonhole themselves into lives of imitation. The more artists AND consumers that join the platform, the greater the inspiration because both artists and consumers can serve as muses to other artists and consumers on the platform. In a way, one could say that the network effects of Etsy paves the way for art to become a legitimate career path and not just a hobby, which will help shift global consciousness towards embracing more right-brained ways of thinking!

    I have this beautiful moonstone necklace that I bought on Etsy and could not find anything similar anywhere else online or in a brick-and-mortar. I love its uniqueness and love even more that an artist made it with love, rather than through exploitation.

  2. Thank you for the interesting post! I too am a huge Etsy fan and purchased a lot of items for my wedding on the site. Was an affordable and convenient way to get customized pieces done. Would be curious to hear your thoughts on the sustainability of Etsy’s growth. There has been some recent press that caution against the classic downfall of many platforms — as one side gets more success (namely the shop owners on Etsy) the value of the platform (i.e. Etsy) itself goes down. Specifically, I worry about the consequences of Etsy relaxing its restrictions on “handmade” in order to allow sellers to keep up with demand. Some of the super successful sellers have begun to outsource some of their production which goes against the origins and spirit of Etsy. Moreover, as the barriers to creating and operating e-commerce shops goes down there is little incentive for these sellers to stay on Etsy once they establish a following. One example here:

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