Beware of creating an Etsy shop.
I have had an Etsy shop since about 2006 for my Deborah Lindquist brand, and about 2 years for Green Queen. Most everything I sell on my websites could also be found on Etsy. It seemed an ok place to sell, and for me mostly attracted wedding and special occasion customers internationally. Many of my customers sent me photos of the custom pieces I created for them for the Kentucky Derby, weddings, and other special occasions. They shared reviews I feature on my website. It was a fun bunch and I enjoyed working with them all. I also became connected to some international stores via Green Queen, my lifestyle and active brand.
Earlier this week I went to add some new items on the Deborah Lindquist site and found that all my listings had been deactivated for Etsy to research my production methods. The whole site was gone except for my photo and a short bio. Details of my methods, press and interviews, videos and printed material were all connected to my site there. Endorsements and testimonials linked as well. All information was easy to find and included in my Etsy site, with outgoing links to my website and social media. Plus I’m easily searched on Google since my work has been featured all over the world.
As it turns out, after 5 hours of answering questions, taking photos of everything in my studio, and then finally requesting a phone call since I had no response, the person helping me on the phone named Candace in customer service finally told me that it’s not a human being who deactivated my listings, but a robot. So a robotic algorithm searches through a handmade business platform called Etsy and deactivates stores because it doesn’t read information about materials used or production methods. Then once the listings are deactivated, it goes into the invasive and frustrating spin called Etsy Marketplace Integrity.
Dealing with the “Integrity” team is where it gets trickier. An employee named Clark demanded that I recreate, step by step with photos, closeups, detail by detail starting with the original fabric and materials 6 one of a kind items. That request is pretty much impossible because clearly a one of a kind item means that the fabric was unique, and once its cut I can’t recreate it in its original form. I do magic but not that kind….
I actually asked Clark if he/she was a robot. Apparently this person is a human but I was wondering.
Explaining the one of a kind concept to Clark took awhile. Clark finally decided that it would be ok to see what was in process in my studio, which was a lot the day I took photos and sent them off. A wedding gown, special occasion bustier, a cashmere shrug for a photoshoot, and a special order t-shirt with an appliqué was all in the works. However, with all that photographic information about what I was doing that day, Clark was still unconvinced that I do any work in my studio. This person wanted step by step, detailed, “how do I do this from scratch” information.
I’m a blonde but I’m not that stupid. It was getting clearer to me what’s happening with Etsy Marketplace Integrity. The answer is “No”. I have a unique process to what I do that has been developed over time. 34 years in my own business has taught me a lot about time management and making my handmade process easy as possible for me. I’m not willing to share that with a faceless person who won’t even talk to me on the phone. Willingly handing over my process to a company knocking off unique handcrafted work is not on my “to do” list. It’s more like inviting vampires into my home. And we all know what happens then.
I began the process to shut my sites down. I tried to voice my concerns on the forum discussions for this very subject but was locked out. I was finally able to shut down Green Queen but was having trouble with shutting down my main site Deborah Lindquist. I requested emails and phone calls to customer service for 2 days but received no response. Finally I reached out to Candace who was lovely and helpful from the start. She informed me that a new bill just arrived for my template design only an hour prior to her responding to me and that I owed more money. So Etsy held on until they could get another $10 from me.
I paid the $10 but it still took 2 days to do so since now I was somehow unable to access anything on my site, including paying a bill.I demanded to receive an email from Clark’s supervisor and to have this person shut down my store. Which finally happened. Thank God.
I see that forum discussions on this subject are now closed, which is why I have to discuss it on my own blog. I see many creators of unique product are going through the hellish spin with the Etsy Marketplace Integrity Group. My advice to anyone going through this is to not detail your methods unless you want your items knocked off and produced in China by Etsy and then perhaps sold in their own stores on the Etsy site.
Yesterday a “success with Etsy” story popped up in my email. The success story was a designer who produces knitwear in Paraguay and sells to the volume retailer Urban Outfitters. (This retailer also test markets brands and then knocks them off) She got her start on Etsy. How this is a unique handcrafted brand is beyond me. But it popped up for a reason. It is clear to me that Etsy is looking for unique items they can reproduce for volume distribution.
So don’t invite them in to your unique process. If you do have an Etsy site, check it daily for any kind of mishandling by the company’s robots.
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