Manufacture This

The blog of the Alliance for American Manufacturing

E-commerce site Etsy now connects artists and manufacturers

Etsy, an e-commerce website, is known as a marketplace for handcrafted and homemade goods. Its success is due to fostering a niche exchange for unique and customizable items. Over the years, they have expanded their business model to include items that have been manufactured in larger quantities. The website announced a new initiative this week that will connect artists with manufacturers to mass produce their products. This service, called Etsy Manufacturing will expand business for both the website and the makers.

But can Etsy truly uphold its socially responsible ethos when dealing with foreign manufacturers?

While Etsy details explicit standards for manufacturers, such as the abolition of child labor and safe working conditions, the site will “not vet or certify manufacturers.” (Both artists and manufacturers apply to participate in this new program.) A primary method of searching for manufacturers on the site is by price, so it is quite possible that entrepreneurs will focus on price instead of ethical manufacturers versus competitors in countries with lax labor laws and workplace conditions.

According to TechCrunch, the company says that of the current partnerships between sellers and manufacturers “85 percent are within the same country … in response to some complaints about Etsy sellers using low-cost overseas manufacturing in order to mass-produce items.”  

Etsy is not the first company to connect designers and manufacturers. Maker’s Row, based in Brooklyn, is an online platform which connects designers and startup businesses with strictly American manufacturers. Just last week, the company opened an online store for its designers and manufacturers.