|According to Etsy, is this a "bucket hat"|
or a "formal hat"?
First and foremost, milliners — and hat-lovers — whether on Etsy or elsewhere have the same primary challenge: to promote hat-wearing as a way of life. To "bring back the hat." Show people that it's socially acceptable to wear hats. Help people who want to wear hats get over their fears.
The second challenge has more to do with Etsy, and that is how to stand out in a crowded marketplace. Sure, the hat-making field is not as over-saturated as the jewelry-making field. But if shoppers look for hats on Etsy, they find at least 10 times as many knitted and crocheted beanies as they do "real" millinery hats. And that doesn't really have anything to do with quality. I've seen gorgeous crocheted hats and disgustingly amateurish felt hats. Then there are the embellishers: people who buy a cheap, mass-produced hat and glue gears (steampunk!) or feathers or ribbon onto it and voilá! — it's all of a sudden "handmade."
The solution to the Etsy problem seems simple. But how to implement it and make it successful, that's the challenge.
Anyhow, my dream, my ideal alternative marketplace website would be:
- 100% Handmade
- Fashion and Accessories
As for the juried requirement, in my dream world that doesn't just weed out poorly made items. Do a search for "wrap bracelet" or "beaded bracelet" on Etsy. Then see how many of them — even ones that are nicely made and well-photographed — look exactly like one another. Or explore how much of Etsy "fashion" is "handmade" by someone with a stock of Hanes t-shirts and an embroidery machine.
And then there's "successful." One of the best things about Etsy — and the reason why I stay — is that it is successful, even if I am not. I know of other sellers who have tried other online selling venues, without getting even a fraction of the views as they get on Etsy. So that's the real trick. Creating an alternative that doesn't just launch, live and die unnoticed.
So that brings me full circle, whether I'm talking about Etsy, another online marketplace, Facebook posts, Instagram, Twitter, or my hats in the real world. ... How do I market myself? How do I get my work seen? How do I grow my business?
I'm starting to take some steps, but it can be intimidating and overwhelming. One of the first things on my list is to improve my display/photos.
|Navy blue fedora with cockade|