Updated: Oct 10, 2021
Do you know Etsy? It’s an online marketplace specialising in handmade products. Before I opened my candle shop, I didn’t know it existed. And even though it is not as popular in Europe as it is in the US, I think it’s worth exploring. You may find really nice products there, and more importantly, support a small maker.
Building a business from scratch
Building a handmade business is a lot of work. Apart from working on your craft (including finding suppliers, new product development and the actual making), you need to learn so much more. Creating and running a website, branding, product photography, marketing strategies for different venues and platforms, SEO, social media algorithms, videos, book keeping. The list goes on and on… and is not the subject of this blog post.
When I plunged into all of this, I discovered Etsy. Handmade business educators list dozens of advantages of selling on Etsy. Wait… what? Etsy? What's that? It is an online marketplace specialising in handmade products. Many makers will open an Etsy shop before they create their own website. Their products are then shown to millions of potential customers worldwide. Customers visit Etsy because they are specifically looking for handmade products.
Etsy in Belgium? Small but still worth exploring
Now… Etsy isn’t that well-known or sought after in Europe, but it does exist. You can apply a country-specific filter while shopping to look for makers in the country you live in. I warmly recommend for you to check it out, if you’re looking for unique gifts, or simply want to treat yourself to something nice and valuable. When I do my browsing on Etsy, I always apply the country filter. But even if you forget to do so, you can see information on where the item is shipping from on each product listing.
Before I opened my candle shop, I’d gravitate towards big well-known brands. It never occurred to me to look specifically for small local handmade businesses. First, because I had no idea where to find them (hint: try Etsy in your country), and second, I wasn’t really sure I could trust them. Now I know better. I have my own handmade candle shop, and I know other people can trust me and my products! 😊
Let me tell you one thing: There are dozens and hundreds of artisans out there doing an amazing job, pouring their hearts into their work. Their attention to materials and detail is remarkable. And in these crazy times, it is even more important to shop locally, and support small businesses.
Try and buy local handmade products
These days, every time I need something, either for myself, for our home or as a gift, I go to Etsy first and see if I can find what I’m looking for. I have come across some really nice people, brands and products! So I urge you, next time you need or want to buy something, give it a go. Look for someone small and local – now you know where to find them!
In the spirit of supporting small fellow creatives and makers, I’ll be publishing a Meet a Maker series as part of this blog. You can get a peek behind the scenes and appreciate all the work and effort that goes into making things by hand. And who knows, maybe you’ll be inspired to find a unique gift, or discover a brand you will love for the rest of your life.
Edited to add:
HANDIEU is a new handmade goods platform just for EU countries! Yay!
It’s funny that only a few days after I wrote this blog article, I came across a new similar platform just for EU countries! Handieu.com doesn’t want to become a mere selling platform, it aspires a be a thriving community for all things handmade specifically geared towards EU consumers and makers. Its founder, Aga Marecka, wants to build a better future for all Europeans. Her goal is to create European a community of crafters, make it easier for consumers to support local handmade businesses, shorten the supply chain, and generally revive the European market.
If you, as a consumer, would like to help in this effort, check out the Handieu.com website and tell everyone about it!
Note: This blog post is not sponsored, and does not contain any affiliate links.
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Enjoy your candles, and until next time!