8 months… holy shit…. It’s been 8 months since I’ve posted anything on here!! Dear lord, my bunnies- if I had known that time had actually sped up while I wasn’t looking I would have adjusted my life accordingly. Let me say that the past 8 months have been a foggy blur, and I’m sorry for the dead air coming from my end, and let us move forward.
What has brought me out of the black hole I’ve been living in was an extremely shocking experience with the DIY shopping site Etsy.com. When I’ve lectured at art schools or been asked in interviews/blogs/etc what a good way to start selling art/arty goods is, my first response has always been Etsy. It’s a great way to get exposure because of it’s social media aspect, and it’s really cheap and easy to use. Just as an experiment to see how many new people I could draw to my works, I decided to open an Etsy store in addition to my official webstore where I offered smaller one-of-a-kind arty things as well as my sunglasses line. It was going great, and was cheaper than my official webstore so I decided to drop my big webstore and move everything over to Etsy. Here’s where the problems started.
The day after I announced on my facebook fanpage that I would be moving everything over from my webstore to my Etsy store, I got an email from Etsy saying that items of mine had been flagged because they didn’t meet the Etsy requirements- and they had shut my whole store down. I’d like to think that the timing of my posting the store move and my items being flagged were a coincidence… but there are a handful of creepers out there who don’t like me, and realistically one of them reported my store to be a dick. Eyerolls and sighs all around.
So here is the nutso part of this… in the email from Etsy, here is a list of what I had to provide to them in order to get my entire store reopened:
- All shop info
- The names of everyone involved in any aspect of my shop from ideas to creation to shipping,etc
- Location of shop, identities of photographers, shipping locations, etc
- Photos of everyone involved in the shop
- Detailed description of how all items are made
- Length of time to make each item
- Every material used – and photos of raw materials of all everything involved with making the item
- Where materials are purchased plus proof of purchase of materials: photos or scans of receipts
- Photos of all tools and equiptment
- Photos of all work spaces
- Photos/graphics of all patterns used for items
- Photos of a step-by-step process of how everything was made
All the photos sent to them had to be shot next to a piece of paper showing your username and the date for authentication. My shop was to remain closed until I provided answers that they felt sufficient to all of these questions.
To all my arty little sweethearts out there – THIS IS BULLSHIT. Allow me to go, step-by-step through all the reasons WHY this is bullshit…
- Only ever disclose what shop info that you are comfortable disclosing to an unknown source. You have no idea what’s on the other side of that email you’re sending out- so be careful with what you give out to protect yourself. They have all the information that they should need when you set up an account.
- You are the owner of the store, and that is all they should need to know. You shouldn’t be required to expose the identities of anyone who might have anything to do with your art.
- Photos of everyone involved in your art? Come on… really? So if I have friends who drop off my packages for me, I have to photograph them and send it to Etsy? No way. Too intrusive.
- Detailed description of how items are made… don’t provide this. These are your trade secrets. If you’re making something that is really unique, do not send this information to a faceless business that creates daily blogs on how to make things. Again- you don’t know who gets these emails and you will have no idea how this information will be used. Protect your art and it’s process.
- Length of time to make your items… I had clothing, jewelry, sunglasses and paintings on my store. To be able to answer this is fully unrealistic.
- Photos of the raw materials- again, do not give out this information. Unless you are selling materials, don’t give up aspects of how you make your unique items.
- Reciepts or proof of purchased goods? That is information for whoever does your taxes- NOT for a faceless corporate website entity. No one but the IRS has the right to see that.
- Photos of tools and workspace: The majority of the people on Etsy create out of their home,and Etsy knows this. There is no way in hell I’m going to send photos of my house to anyone I don’t know. That is an invasion of privacy, and just creepy for them to demand.
- *Photos of graphics and patterns*- this is a biggie. Never ever ever ever ever disclose your graphics/ CAD illustrations / patterns to ANYONE except those who will be assisting you in production. Period. Ever. Etsy states in their “DO’s and “DON’Ts” that: “A third-party vendor may be used for intermediary tasks in some crafts. Acceptable examples include but are not limited to: printing the seller’s original artwork, metal casting from the seller’s original mold or kiln firing the seller’s handcrafted ceramic work.” I am in the unique position with my day job (where I design sunglasses and eyewear) that I am able to design unique sunglasses with my own CAD illustrations and have them manufactured in small quantities, and then I do the embellishments and packaging by hand. The same goes for my clothing (which are from my own patterns), and my laser-etched necklaces. These items fall within Etsy’s guidelines. But I will NEVER give out the original patterns, illustrations or CAD’s to a corporation. And industry standards/ common knowledge dictates that I keep this information private for my own protection. To hold my potential income and entire store hostage until I give up this private information breaks so many ethical rules that it’s insane.
- Never give anyone you’re step by step unless you want to be knocked off. Period.
I emailed them and told them that I wasn’t about to give out such detailed and personal information, and that I wanted my store closed permanently but to remain on buyer status so that I could still shop from the artists that I loved. They proceeded to kick me off Etsy completely. I emailed them letting them know that it was sad that I could no longer support the artists that I shop from through Etsy since I was totally booted- but that I would just buy directly from the artists instead. They didn’t want to loose a single penny, so they reinstated my account as just a buyer.
Here’s what creeped me out the most about this… there are people who have built up their etsy store so much that it is a major source of income for them. And all it takes is 1 person flagging their shop, and the whole thing is shut down. Your store and source of income can get hijacked and put on hold indefinitely until you meet Etsy’s the over-the-top demands that violate industry standards and your privacy. So if you have 1 crazy person out there who doesn’t like you, they have the power to shut you down. And if you are able to convince Etsy to open your store again- you can just be flagged again, and again, and again. You have no power over your own store.
After this happened to me, I got tons of emails and links from my darling bunnies to tons of other artists that this happened to. Here are a couple:
Apparently it’s impossible to get them on the phone. And even after you comply with everything they ask, they can still keep you shut down- just because they want to.
So here is my official retraction for any public promotion that I have ever given Etsy. This is not a safe business step. The control over your shop is apparently in the hands of people who want to falsely flag you and the whimsy of Etsy- and not in your hands where it should be. This is just wrong.
To the spiteful little creeper gem who flagged my etsy store- THANK YOU SO MUCH!! And I mean that with the most sincerity ever. I got shut down on etsy before I moved everything off my official webstore, so this was such a blessing. I learned so much about etsy that I needed to know, and was able to (with great ease) just move everything back onto my official webstore and not lose a penny of my DESPERATELY needed income. This was an awesome learning experience, and in the end I am super thankful for it.
So here is where I open this up to my readers…. can I get some feedback for the crafty cuties out there who want an inexpensive and reliable webstore? Where should they go? I’m on homestead.com- and I do love them very much, but there is a monthly fee for it (and some new artists aren’t at a place where they can afford a monthly fee). Ideas and feedback, anyone? Let’s all help each other out with big brainstorming!!!
Thank you for tuning in to my lengthy rambling. In my head, I’m giving you all a gigantic hug!!
(ps… since everything is back on my webstore, you can get these new editions there right now. Click the pic and check it out!! xooxoxoxxo)