etsy & small businesses: supporting artists during covid-19


art by: karisah brown

In an industry where they must compete with big players like Amazon, it’s often difficult for entrepreneurs to find their niche in the marketplace. This is especially true under the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

According to Yelp, there have been nearly one million businesses forced to permanently close. It has also been proven to be a trying time for the arts as thousands of arts organizations face cancellations and closings, leaving two-thirds of artists in the U.S. unemployed. Despite the significant challenges facing small businesses today, the online marketplace platform Etsy is working to support small business owners more than ever in the COVID-19 era. 

Etsy recently released a statement on their blog addressed to small business owners, stating that, “This is the community that Etsy is built to support, because behind every purchase, there’s a person, not a factory.” This statement also included a pledge for the company to invest $5 million over the next month to drive sustained business for sellers and plans to provide a one month grace period for sellers that need extra time paying their bills.

As an extension of this plan, Etsy rolled out their new campaign #StandWithSmall on April 1. CEO Josh Silverman explained the campaign as an initiative to support the 2.7 million sellers on Etsy. #StandWithSmall focuses on highlighting independent sellers and aims to increase customer awareness about how their purchases affect the lives of small business owners. The featured #StandWithSmall page on the site includes an article about a featured shop, featured items chosen by Etsy’s editor team [available with free shipping] and a behind-the-scenes video of various sellers. 

To promote small brands, Etsy has also rolled out new limited edition collections that collaborate with well-known personalities. Their newest lines include Tan France x Etsy, Ana Johnson x Etsy and Half Baked Harvest x Etsy. Not only do these collections boast name recognition, but they also allow customers to find items more easily, as they are already specially curated by well-loved celebrities. As a result, artists whose designs were chosen for the collections receive more exposure, allowing their business to grow.

The Etsy Design Awards, first started by the company in 2019, are another way of supporting artists on the site. Designs are nominated for the awards and are then narrowed down by editors to a group of 100 finalists. These designs span over 10 categories. The winners from each category are chosen by community members [anyone with an Etsy account] based on how many people have “favorited” their design. Not only does the winner receive prize money, but each shop gains exposure and engagement from potential buyers. The voting is open September 22 through October 7. 

The decision to shop small ultimately lies with the consumer. Consider frequenting local businesses in your area or browsing Etsy for your shopping needs. Especially during the COVID-19 era, it’s important to show support to small artists to show them that we’re truly all in this together.

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Hi, I’m Maria McGinnis, a senior journalism student from Stow, Ohio. I’m also the editor in chief of A Magazine. My staff and I are committed to bringing you the most important and entertaining news from the realms of fashion, beauty and culture. We are full-time students and hard-working journalists. While we get support from the student media fee and earned revenue such as advertising, both of those continue to decline. Your generous gift of any amount will help enhance our student experience as we grow into working professionals. Please go here to donate to A Magazine.