Effective immediately we have decided to no longer partner with Etsy due to changes in values within the company. We will continue to host an annual Maritime Makers | Made in Canada market each September along with smaller regional markets and events throughout the year. While the new fee increase and tiered pricing plans that take effect on July 16 concern us our biggest difficulty and the reason for divestment is the lack of consultation, transparency, or ethics related to not only this change but many others. A short list of recent changes include (sources available here):
- shareholder takeover that forced out previous CEO and replaced with former Ebay executive
- lapse of B-Corp Certification
- mass layoffs
- termination of values-aligned and/or community programs such as the Etsy Advocacy team, Etsy Maker Cities, Etsy Wholesale, Etsy Studio, and the Indigenous Seller handbook
- overnight decision to ban Indigenous crafts using traditional materials
- moving the Etsy main office in Brooklyn to a building owned by Jared Kushner & receiving investment from politically motivated shareholders such as Jason Greenblatt the Special Representative for International Negotiations for the current US government.
Canadian makers are already experiencing shipping and customs delays or the inability to cross the border to participate in markets and events even with the appropriate paperwork. New fee increases and charges for shipping on Etsy will only make things harder for our community without any assurance we have advocates within the company. Aligning ourselves with a company who is increasingly profit driven and not looking out for the best interests of makers or aligned with our own mission statement no longer makes sense to us.
We began this journey with Etsy five years ago with the goal of supporting a diverse and inclusive maker movement in Nova Scotia and beyond. This has been an entirely volunteer role with no compensation from Etsy. We’ve loved organizing but have not always agreed or supported company decisions. The event has been provided with a small bursary (maximum of $1500 when our event costs usually exceed $15000 once venue, insurance, and marketing are accounted for), some signage, 4 interviews with CTV and one Chronicle Herald article over the last five years, and the opportunity for team captains to attend an annual team captain’s summit in Toronto along with a list of limitations that we worked within. All other organization including press, design, decor, and marketing has been our responsibility but Etsy has received a lot of credit and positive press as a result. After our first successful event we teamed up with volunteer leaders in NB, NS, NL & PEI to grow the maker movement and economy across our region as Maritime Makers. Together with our small team of volunteers and the amazing community of makers + the huge volume of supporters we have built our events into major economic events with vendor surveys year over year reporting high sales and makers leaving with a feeling of being part of something important.
Etsy as a company didn’t just decide Atlantic Canada was a valuable market on it’s own – the head of community programs at Etsy Canada who left the company recently championed us along with the work of Suzanne & Kim on PEI, Bella & Julia in NB, Megan & Amy in NL, Fatema & Jessika in NS – eight women in four provinces who volunteer their time did the majority of the work with the help of our teams and makers like you. Along the way we have had children and lost loved ones while running our own businesses and lives. As a community we showed the company we were a significant force and got their attention repeatedly with our own ideas – magazines, winter markets, piloting Etsy Maker Cities, hosting workshops/meet-ups and of course some of the biggest markets in all of Canada outside of Toronto and Vancouver.
All of the support and collaboration ended with the shareholder takeover in 2016, there is no longer any meaningful value to partnering with Etsy beyond their name and that is increasingly carrying a meaning we don’t want to be associated with. We are not alone in this and other team captains across the country are participating in a day of action organized as #etsystrike and making their own decisions about what to do. If Etsy is willing to make changes that re-align the company with the values they held and marketed themselves for until recently we are willing to look at partnering with them again.
We have created a new Facebook group for our team that Maritime Makers are invited to join to replace our Etsy team and forum where we will be sharing support and working together. Instead of using Etsy branding in the future we will be working with our team to design new posters and graphics in collaboration with local artists and designers – we are excited for this new chapter of Maritime Makers and to do more work advocating for and investing in our community. We appreciate all of you for the work you’ve done to help make our markets a major economic movement in the province and beyond. We hope you will take this next step with us as we continue to build Maritime Makers as our own collective and stand by our mission statement:
Maritime Makers is a volunteer run collective with a mandate to support makers and grow the maker movement in NB, NS, NL & PEI. Through online and offline organizing, events, and education we are creating opportunities for creative growth in rural and urban communities across Atlantic Canada.
Learn more about the #EtsyStrike here led by Maritime Makers organizer Jessika Hepburn: http://bit.ly/etsystrike
Join our new Facebook group for Maritime Makers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/225937921341898/
Collaborate & organize with Fellow Makers globally: https://www.fellowmakers.com/
Share your statement on the changes of values at Etsy and we will make sure it is heard: http://bit.ly/etsystatement
Cheers to making our own way, on our own terms, together.
Jessika Hepburn & Fatema Sidat on behalf of Maritime Makers