Thursday, November 3, 2011

Who do I work for anyway?

This week's Etsy drama is about their new practice of including ads for other shops within our transaction confirmation emails. Is it the end of the world? Of course not. Is it a business practice that I find to be completely tasteless, tacky and inappropriate? Absolutely. It raises a lot of important issues for me in terms of how I define my business and branding. I'm retired from professional work now and one of the things that I love about this is that I feel like I'm finally working for myself and not for a Board of Directors or CEO. I never have to feel ashamed or embarrassed by anyone else's behavior anymore. I tend to see Etsy as my landlord and not as my employer. My landlord (if I had one) could raise my rent and enforce whatever legal limits that he wants to but he can't come in and sign my mail or redecorate my house. Clearly Etsy can and it's their site. I just hadn't realized how much taste control I'm giving up. It's certainly food for thought. I'm pretty practical and I understand that if I want to play in Etsy's sandbox I have to deal with whatever they decide and I have no issue with that but it isn't what I envisioned when I decided to have a hobby/business. I'm not sure what the point of having a little side business is if I can't even control my branding in a way that I feel would help me to grow. This combined with the never-ending push toward trendy disposable consumerism over there is making me feel a little bit dirty.

There's no fast answer or venue with comparable traffic but I'm learning now that this is something that I should have given more thought to right up front. Given that this is a hobby and I don't need the money badly enough to compromise my principles, what are my ethical boundaries? Is there a point where I would say "enough is enough, this is not me at all" and where is that point? I don't know yet but I'm surely going to be thinking about it. The miniscule number of sales I get there may not be worth this icky feeling that my brand spams customers with trendy items that the customer didn't ask for. I just hate spam so much and I'm not sure that I want another job that I'm not in control of or to work for kids half my age that don't appear to have a mature business ethic when it comes to how they treat their customers.

Please come see my handmade designer plus size sweaters, sweater coats, capes and shrugs at


  1. Hey Karen -

    Nice blog! Are you on Facebook? If so, friend me.

    Hope your crafting business is fun and rewarding!

    --Xanthippe Santa Cruz
    (fb name)

  2. What a surprise! It's great to see you but I can't even imagine how you found me here. I've sold about half a dozen sweaters on E but I still do much better IRL with custom orders. If it weren't for those I'd never be able to afford fill up a shop. I just found you on facebook but there are 2 of you so as usual I'm more or less lost there. I'll either be Karen with a last name that isn't really mine or with my shop name.

    Other than actually making things my favorite part is playing around with the tech part of getting found by search engines. Big surprise, huh?

  3. I think that I either added you half a dozen times or none at all. I really hate facebook :)

    I'm Karen Gilhick (a smush of my maiden and married names) there so add me if you can figure it out.

  4. Oh, so there are two Xanthippe Santa Cruz. One of them is me, the other is a troll.

    The difference between us is that my page is completely public to everyone, while the imposter's is not. Also, I'm not retired.

    Sent you a request :)

  5. Hah - I wouldn't put it past 'that woman' but she'd be trying harder to make you angry and probably isn't bright enough to figure out FB. I'm almost embarrassed to admit that I won't use my real last name primarily because of her and one other loonie from there. I'll go sign into FB.