Female Etsy sellers dissed. What do you think?

This article posted on Double X (link found on Modern Seamsters Facebook) is about how many women there are on Etsy and how they are all pathetic women trying to make money but can’t because they are not men. Or something. Maybe it’s more that Etsy sucks because there are no men making lots of money from selling on it.

Etsy.com Peddles a False Feminist Fantasy -or- No, you can’t quit your day job to make quilts. By Sara Mosle

Certainly the term “female ghetto” immediately got my back up even if it is maybe a correct usage of the term (except that I don’t think it is). Is Etsy selling a false feminist fantasy because they are featuring women who make their living with creative pursuits? This article set out to paint the women selling on Etsy as pathetic instead of seeing that Etsy can be a perfectly viable part of peoples business plan or just fun place to sell stuff. Are the women who sell on eBay or Ponoko also pathetic?

Give it a read and tell me what you think.


  1. says

    lol, maybe the writer was distressed that “their” etsy made no money and they needed to continue their day job? The proof is in the pudding i think! smile

  2. says

    I read it about a week ago, and it really reminded me of something that was written because one was given a topic and needed to write something that would get response. There wasn’t much support to back up her claims, etc. I’m going to keep on keeping on, knowing that for many of us, Etsy is one piece of a bigger puzzle that helps us make the money we’d like to make.

    Still, it did make me Grr a little 😉

  3. samiam says

    I think the article is right on the money.

    So many people (not just women BTW) I know don’t have a clue how to figure out if their businesses are profitable and they just focus on their number of sales.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, after they do their taxes, “OMG I have so many sales I can hardly keep up, but I lost $1,400 last year! My husband/wife is shocked. So am I. How is that possible?!?!?!”

    SAHM and WAHM and any other people who are serious about starting a small business need to educate themselves about standard business practices.

    Just because you make a lot of sales doesn’t mean you are making money. In fact, if you don’t know what your expenses are and how to properly price your items you may be losing money.

    Places like Etsy sell a “dream” and most small businesses fold in the first 3 years.

    It’s fine to dream, but you had better know what you are doing if you really want an actual business, not just a dream.

  4. says

    while the author makes some valid points, i think she is a little harsh in her criticism and may just be venting over her own lack of creativity

  5. Jessica says

    Etsy is a testament to independence and innovation. There is an excellent Reason Magazine article (go to reason.com and search for “Dangerous Toys, Strange Bedfellows” by Katherine Mangu-Ward) that discusses the relevance of this type of entrepreneurship in the days of mass-production and the inevitable regulation that follows. From the article: “The site did $166,000 in sales its first year[2005], $87 million by 2008.” Now, I know that doesn’t translate to mega bucks for every ‘female’ but still – doesn’t sound very ghetto to me. :)

  6. says

    I think Etsy gives women permission to do something they already were itching to do anyway. Women enjoy working with colors and creating things, and the idea of having others see it and have the opportunity to buy it even is a good thing.

    When the husband sees the woman quilting again, she can say “But if it sells, honey…”

    As far as the lack of men, I’m not sure. Probably they have jobs to hold down. I think the article is wrong to pass judgments like that. They’re also making statements they can’t support.

  7. Stephanie says

    I don’t think the intention of the article was to insinuate that the women on Etsy are pathetic. This is a parallel story to what we have known for years: men make more money for the same work and tend to have higher up positions. Etsy is a great marketplace for handmade goods but you have to wonder what it says about women in general that we would sell our products for less than our male counterparts. Are our crafty hands any less valuable? It pains me to read the part about profit margins and how people will sell for so little that it is hard to imagine they do little more than breaking even. Etsy is great but the more people that are on there and the harder the economic times, the worse that scenario is going to be. I am not quite sure what the specific answer to the Etsy problem should be, but I do know that as women we still need to fight for higher wages!

  8. says


    I tink the writer somewhat misses the point of etsy; not every single one of the 250000 sellers wants to quit their day job and become a wahm: i certainly don’t. but what it does provide is an outlet to sell and have admired the stuff that we normally only do for ourselves.

    I think the real reasons more men don’t sell on the site are less to do with a ‘false feminist fantasy’ (sorry, but isn’t being a wahm actually kind of anti-feminist?) but that 1)not that many men are crafty to the same degree as women, 2)men may feel a challenge to their masculinity by being classed as ‘crafty’ rather than ‘artisans’ or (eg) ‘metalworkers’, ‘photographers’ and the like 3) the etsy set-up perfectly suits women, like myself (37, post-graduate qualifications, mum of 2… the exact demographic) for part-time tinkering whilst still keeping up our day job (whatever that may be- paid or unpaid).

    If I were to give up my day job (extremely unlikely) to focus on doing what craft I love, I’d have to fully research it, and selling on etsy would only be part of my sales and marketing. the dream is not being sold only by etsy; the dream is coming at us from all angles: the sea- and tree-change, the ream for a simpler life, down-sizing and back-shifting. etsy is only one part of this.

  9. Celeste says

    I am an Etsy seller and I agree with a lot of what this article had to say and am glad that it was written because I have been thinking some of these things myself.

    Etsy sells the idea that you can make a living on their site, publishes the “Quit Your Day Job” articles, gives us all kinds of tips on how to be a better seller for one reason – they make money from us! A lot of people talk about Etsy as if they are some kind of benevolent benefactor giving us the privilege of being a part of their loving community. This simply isn’t true. Etsy has co-opted the craft community to build their brand image. They are really good at it. I bet they think that they are doing a public service. But the numbers don’t lie – they make millions from fees, while most Etsy sellers make next to nothing, thinking the whole time that if only they did something a little different that they too could be the next “Quit Your Day Job.” It’s a romantic idea, akin to William Morris’ idea that everyone could have handcrafted things in their home. A beautiful, completely unrealizable fantasy under our current economic system. As small-scale producers, most of us will collapse from economic pressures such as the inability to compete with larger producers because of the cost of materials, or rampant knock-offery from companies like Urban Outiftters who will undercut us and drive us out of business. This is a reality we as a craft community have to face. Making things in and of itself will not fix this.

    My biggest complaint with the article (yes, I’ll get back to the article) is this statement:

    “There’s little evidence that most sellers on the site make much money. This, I suspect, explains the absence of men. They are immune to the allure of this fantasy. They have evaluated the site on purely economic terms and found it wanting.”

    WHAT? How can a self-avowed feminist write something like this? How can she jump to the conclusion that men are somehow smarter and more able to resist fantasy? This statement plays into stereotypes that women are more sensitive and open to suggestion. I can’t say why there aren’t more men on the site. I could give a few ideas, but the statement above is definitely not one of them!
    1. Etsy spreads by word of mouth. More women on the site, talking primarily to female friends=still more women on the site
    2. There are still stigmas attached to men working in crafts that need to be overcome.
    3. Women are more likely to take extended maternity leave, but are pressured to earn income, making jobs in which women can work from home especially appealing.
    4. Most Etsy sellers are shoppers first. Shopping is still considered a “feminine” pursuit, therefore, men are less likely to even visit a site geared around shopping, especially shopping in certain areas Etsy does well in, like home decor, fashion, and jewelry.

    Well, there’s my 4 cents.

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