Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Etsy news, Coralgate

Hello, blog friends. Over the weekend, Etsy ran an article in their Storque blog on the environmental irresponsibility of using coral in jewelry designs or selling coral beads and such as supplies. This article was written by:
1. A jewelry designer who does not make her own jewelry and does not sell on Etsy.
2. A jewelry designer who sells manufactured pieces that incoporate mined precious metals and stones that are not exactly morally exempt from environmental "green" criticism.
3. A jewelry designer who linked to her off Etsy commerce site in her Etsy profile, directing people off of Etsy to a place where they could buy non-handmade jewelry.
4. A jewelry designer who also directed readers to sign a petition to not buy anything including coral.

There are several problems with the article.
1. Etsy allows the use and sale of coral, and collects listing and selling fees for those items listed.
2. Most, if not all, of the coral used in pieces on Etsy is not the dredged coral that negatively impacts the oceanic environment.
3. Etsy is basically blacklisting their own sellers, while still making money from them. This Etsy-endorsed article asks people not to support the use of coral, while Etsy gladly pockets the money from any coral listings.
4. Jewelry is a tough market on Etsy, and Etsy directed people to an offsite jewelry commerce site offering manufactured and not handmade pieces.
5. Etsy does little advertising, and much of the traffic to Etsy comes from sellers like me (and possibly you) promoting our behinds off. I introduce people to Etsy all the time, and, even if they don't buy from me, they're likely to find something on the site that tickles their fancy and buy something. I also buy from Etsy, as most sellers do. We're their primary customers, while also being their primary advertising outlet. Basically, active sellers support and pay for this site.
6. Etsy closed all Forum threads discussing this issue, under the Terms of Use rule that you can't negatively "call out" another member of the Etsy community, presumably the author of the blog article, who has neither bought nor sold anything on Etsy, and seems to have established an account only to direct readers to another site entirely. Directing traffic to another site is also against Etsy's Terms of Use.
7. The article negatively "calls out" any seller with coral in their shop, and could negatively impact those shops' business.
8. Etsy posted a half-hearted apology here, but has left this article up and running, while not allowing any comments on the article.

Now, you guys know I love Etsy, love buying and selling on Etsy, and love my Etsy friends. However, this little incident and the response to it really gets my goat. It often seems that Etsy acts without thinking, and this brings to mind the mature filter that was put universally on all accounts several months ago.

What do you Etsy people think of this?


  1. You are spot on. Everything about this reeks. The author even misrepresented the petition she was imploring people to sign. The petition was to boycott pink and red corals, not all corals.

  2. Im really stunned by Etsy's lack of action or even tact on this. They could be looking at a major lawsuit from sellers that use coral.

    Imagine you had signed up to be in a craft fair. A really big one, that brought in a good amount of traffic, and had decent reviews from previous participants. You fill out the forms, pay the fees, get accepted, and make a ton of stock. After you get there and set up your table, and customers start to take an interest.... the people running the craft fair bring in a guest speaker. From the big box store down the street. Who not only invites people to shop at said big store, but gives a lecture about how handmade jewelry is bad and invites people to sign a pledge not to buy any.

    Would you feel put out? Hell yes. And the response so far has been incredibly lacking.

  3. Lego, I think there could be valid legal recourse here too. It scares me that you and I realize that, but this large corporation does not.

  4. I think I'm agreeing with everyone including Lonesome. How's the business there Lonesome?

  5. MABs, It's Jen :) I'm really disappointed with the whole deal. I feel like Etsy has their priorities and I ignored that, but this goes beyond what I'm comfortable with. The "response" has been telling and I'm looking @ bc too. I've heard great things about them.

  6. This was a big mistake on Etsy's part, and while I love them too, I agree that they sometimes make questionable choices. I suppose no company is perfect, but I understand your outrage. I'm checking out "Big Cartel" now, it's the first I've heard of them, thanks!