Local artisans marketing online to a global audience

Vi Archer, left, and Chelsea Laurin, jewelry makers and team leaders for the Sarnia Lambton Etsy Market. Cathy Dobson

Cathy Dobson

Hundreds of talented local artisans design and make their own products in home studios, everything from bracelets to baby clothes and quilts to skincare products, selling them at the odd bizarre or craft sale.

Though they tend to work in isolation, many would prefer to network with other artisans who understand the challenges and how to attract more business, says Chelsea Laurin, a team leader for the local Etsy market.

Etsy is an international online service Laurin introduced to Sarnia-Lambton last year. The portal allows artisans to reach a wide market by creating their own online shops, she said.

“When you join Etsy, you’re joining a community of people who support one another,” said Laurin. “It makes it easy to set up shop, and it’s a great way to sell around the world.”

Etsy has 60 members in Sarnia-Lambton, including Laurin who sells her handmade jewelry under her company name Bohgeo.

Vi Archer is another team leader who believes strongly in networking.

“Etsy has really increased my confidence when people from across the world like and purchase my products,” said Archer who makes Bohemian gemstone bracelets under the name Votus.

While individual shops are free to set up, it costs 20 cents (U.S.) to list an item for sale and Etsy takes a 3.5% commission on each sale.

Etsy also organizes an annual pop-up market that brings local members together under one roof for a day for face-to-face sales.

This year’s Etsy Market is on Sept. 24 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at 100 Christina St. North. It has already reached capacity with 25 vendors, each selling handmade or vintage products.

Last year’s inaugural Etsy Market at Memorable Moments in Sarnia attracted 500 customers, said Laurin.

The 2016 market, which has a bigger venue and more vendors, is being planned in partnership with The Cube, a support program for entrepreneurs at Lambton College.

Etsy markets will be held in 34 Canadian cities on the same day.

Laurin and Archer are still looking for local businesses that want to participate, not as Etsy vendors but to sell refreshments or bring other attractions to the market, like music. Anyone interested should contact the Etsy team leaders at sarniaetsy@yahoo.com.

Donations will be accepted at this year’s Etsy Market for a Return the Landscape project.  Last year’s donations went toward a mental health program.

Laurin and Archer hope money raised at this year’s market will help create a butterfly garden for Rebound youth.

Got an interesting business story?  Contact Cathy Dobson at cathy.dobson@thesarniajournal.ca or call 226-932-0985.