When you think of online shopping, what comes to mind? Many might say Amazon or their favorite department or shoe store. That’s all great, but for more of a unique, one-of-a-kind inventory, with items from small business owners, Etsy is the way to go.
Developed in 2015 by Jared Tarbell, Rob Kalin, Chris Maguire, and Haim Schoppik, Etsy was inspired by their frustration of creating websites for others and started out as an online community called GetCrafty.
“It was mostly women who were crafting and sharing their tips on how to make things. And we thought it was really fun,” Chris Maguire, co-founder of Etsy and current shareholder said in a recent statement. “They kept saying on the GetCrafty forums at the time, ‘I wish there was a place to sell things that I made, like eBay. There’s not a whole lot out there that caters to just us.'” From there, they decided they would build it, and Etsy was born.
Etsy, grown in Brooklyn, where it’s still headquartered today, has been listed and recognized on multiple platforms for its disruption into the industry and innovation for a new category. The site was also among the first to be certified with a B Corporation, a certificate that proves a company is aligned with its social goals. It was and is a beautiful marketplace for creative entrepreneurs to make connections, as well as buy and sell unique goods.
Today, 95 million people use Etsy to buy or sell items, according to the company’s investor presentation. Originally, there was a large focus on buyer and seller connection, something that goes beyond the transaction; whereas now many see it as a sales game.
“It had this playful aesthetic. And I didn’t see that as much on Etsy now,” Maguire said in an interview. “It’s kind of more geared towards, ‘We’re selling stuff and we’re selling as much as possible, and that should be the driving goal.'” The team credits this to its rapid growth and the clients’ (all 1 million+ of them) needs to make a sale.
Etsy is a beast on its own and in some ways is in direct competition with Amazon. Sure, it has scaled rapidly over the years, and lost its sense of “homegrown,” depending on who you talk to. However, it still has the unique inventory on its side and a real sense of community and passion within its customers and fans alike.
Another way Amazon and Etsy differ? Amazon is banning its workers for having criticisms about working conditions.