After the Jump: Etsy Wholesale + West Elm

by Grace Bonney

Etsy’s new wholesale program is one of the biggest opportunities and developments to hit the world of independent design in quite some time. The new expansion was both the result of increased demand from shop owners and designers as well as a response to the changing nature of retail. Stores are no longer only meeting designers at trade shows or with in-person linesheet appointments. They’re searching online- and so are designers- for the best goods and the best retail outlets for them. Working online for the past 10 years, I’ve gotten so used to the idea that shop owners regularly search Etsy for goods to sell in their store, but the traditional retail/wholesale rep system hadn’t yet caught up to reflect that virtual system. So today I welcomed Etsy’s Senior Manager of Wholesale, Vanessa Bertozzi, along with Abigail Jacobs, VP of Brand Marketing and Public Relations for West Elm– one of Etsy’s new wholesale partners.

One of the biggest hurdles independent businesses have is finding a way to get their foot in the door with retail outlets. Trade shows have traditionally been a good option, but they’re expensive and have increasingly become less of a feasible option for new businesses. But with this new program, sellers have the option to work with Etsy to connect them with larger national brands, like West Elm to not only place orders on a bigger scale and to a larger audience, but to learn more about how to improve their pricing structures, take better product photography and work with brands to develop lines that are more retail-friendly. I’m completely fascinated by all of the doors this could possibly open for makers, so I was thrilled to have Vanessa and Abigail on-air this week to talk about what all of this means for independent design, retail and the wholesale world. I think movements and changes like this mean greater access to local, independent work for everyone, so I’m excited to see where this program goes. Thanks so much to Vanessa and Abigail for joining me and thanks to all of you for listening! xo, grace

*I was very happy to learn on-air that West Elm made a public commitment, as part of the Clinton Global Initiative, to purchase $35 million worth of handmade goods over the next two years. That means more handmade work at a national, mass-market level and more than 20% of West Elm’s products will be handmade. In addition, they’ve pledged to be transparent about the ethical making and sourcing of those products.

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  • West Elm continues to impress with the way they continually adapt their retail strategies to support local and handmade goods. The Clinton Global Initiative commitment is very exciting – not just lip service but action! Other big retailers, take note and evolve. The whole conversation was great, thanks for this!

  • This. Is. Incredible. My Etsy sales have slowly been ramping up and even though I have only been actively selling for a year, I feel like I am ready for a big break. I like that wholesale on Etsy seems like it will take new young talent and sort of foster it. Thanks for the lovely post!

  • Grace, I enjoy After the Jump and this episode was so envisioning!

    I have an unrelated ATJ question. I’ve been listening to old episodes to find the source of the following quote, unsuccessfully:

    “Deploy, deploy, deploy. Don’t sit on things! People love seeing a brand develop. It’s okay not to be perfect.”

    Do you know who said this? I am 90% sure it was from your podcast. It’s a huge encouragement to me and I would love to credit whoever said it and listen to the episode again!

  • This is a tremendous accomplishment for independent creatives and store owners. It is a reinforcement of the power of perseverance and the need for existing relations between corporate retailers and small businesses. This partnership provides a positive marketing impact for Etsy while allowing West Elm to capture a unique demographic of consumers.

  • Grace and Rachel, thanks for your help! I forgot there are multiple sources where I’ve had business encouragement on Design Sponge.

  • I have been wondering about etsy wholesale and thinking of applying. The only thing is that I sell original art. Can I wholesale original art?