To Etsy or Not to Etsy

It seems as though every time I share embroidery projects here, on Instagram, or on Facebook, someone tells me that I need to be listing things on Etsy. Besides feeling immensely flattered that someone thinks my embroidery work is nice, there's some fear of moving to the "next" level.

I Like Working for People I Know

I like doing projects for people I know (or for people with whom I share a mutual friend). There's something nice about getting an email a friend who wants me to make something for their niece, the friend of someone who has one of my bags, or a wedding planner friend whose bride wants a big monogram on their table runner. There's something really nice about getting tagged by a friend in a picture of something I made.

I can't tell you how happy this photo made me when I was tagged in it!

I'm Not Ready for Mass Production

There are embroidery businesses that have the capacity to embroidery a lot of goods at a high rate of speed. I'd venture that those companies don't do the kind of embroidery I do. My physical set up has me doing one project at a time, slowly and carefully. In my experience, industrial embroidery shops are great with logos and standard monograms, but if you want something large or ornate, it's better to go with a smaller operation.

Multi-head embroidery machines can churn out a lot of projects!

My embroidery style doesn't really lend itself to mass production, either. Just the other day, I was discussing designs with some women who do embroidery and some said they would not promote the interlaced vine design that I love so much because it has too many stitches (which means it takes a long time to stitch a monogram in that design, thus tying up the embroidery machine for while). I would hate to get to the point where I wouldn't want to do one of my beautiful, ornate designs because it had a high "opportunity cost."  Some of my favorite designs are big and take the better part of an hour to stitch.

That interlocking vine design that some embroidery folks don't want to do.

I Hear Complaints about Etsy

The last thing that worries me is the fact that lots of Etsy sellers complain about Etsy. The sheer number of sellers makes it hard to be seen on the site these days. I also see complaints about the fees on the site. I believe Etsy takes 3.5% of a sale, so you have to mark up to cover that price. I think the fees change as you list more items, but I could be wrong.

I really think the saturation of the market is what keeps me away. There will always be someone with a cheaper machine, using cheaper supplies, offering to monogram things for less than it costs me to so the same work. I'd rather stick to using my beautiful thread and needles and stabilizers I trust. A few months ago, I bought some cheaper thread and I don't like using it. It doesn't have the same texture or vibrant color that I get from my [expensive] threads. 

I've noticed people moving to hosting a shop on their own website, but might be an option if I get to the point that I think I'm ready for a real "store." For now, I enjoy doing projects on a small scale, for people I know.    


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