Etsy’s innovative Craft Entrepreneurship Program comes to Santa Cruz
by Sara Isenberg
Publisher, Santa Cruz Tech Beat
Etsy, a global online network of independent artists and designers, announced last week that Santa Cruz County will be the recipient of a new “Craft Entrepreneurship Program.” Etsy has carved a niche in the online selling community as the place to sell handmade arts and crafts.
This isn’t just another entrepreneurial boot-camp — it’s a craft entrepreneurship program class focused on teaching people with low incomes how to sell their crafts on Etsy. The goal is to double the number of places hosting the pilot classes, bringing them to 10 cities by the end of the year, while creating an open-source curriculum that can be used by any other city to run its own classes.
This brand new program, still in the pilot phase, currently operates in New York and Chicago, where Etsy’s headquarters are located. In addition to Santa Cruz, the program will expand to Dallas and Newark.
According to Barbara Mason, County of Santa Cruz Economic Development Coordinator, the program runs in areas with high unemployment to work with people who have craft skills, but are not trained on how to create or market these skills as a business. This can be anything from jewelry making, pottery, stained glass, quilts, costumes, and more.
Many low-income groups have long had craft and manufacturing skills, but are unsure of how to unlock the potential of these skills for income and well being in this day and age. We believe that a key part of the solution is providing targeted education. We have created a curriculum with 6 modules intended to be taught in person by experienced local Etsy sellers over the course of 2 to 6 weeks. Each module includes hands-on practice on a personal Etsy.com shop, and strategies for success across a variety of platforms. We’re excited to see what opportunities more independent, creative businesses can bring to these communities and beyond.
The goal of the program is to provide participants with the ability to earn ancillary income until they find a job or create their own by taking what they learn and creating their own business. Etsy will use this as a model to expand the program to several areas of the country.
The local program is expected to launch in July with classes starting in August.
Etsy will also be providing general training on how to sell on their website to anyone in the county. The County of Santa Cruz plans to work with the 1000+ Etsy stores currently located within Santa Cruz County to help them be more successful.
Etsy plans to contract with the Central Coast Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to provide education to students in Watsonville. The County of Santa Cruz will work with several partner organizations, including the Workforce Investment Board, CAMEO, EL Pajaro CDC, Cabrillo College, Digital Nest, and Regional Artisans Association. The County of Santa Cruz will also work to secure partnerships with the Watsonville Chamber of Commerce & Agriculture, the Pajaro Valley Arts Council, and the City of Watsonville Economic Development program.
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Sara Isenberg publishes Santa Cruz Tech Beat for the benefit of the extended business and technology community. When she is not volunteering her time for the tech scene, Sara makes her living by managing software projects, web strategy planning, and providing development team services (including account management, vendor management, strategic partner management, beta project management, referrals to qualified technical team members, and more). Please visit her website: Sara Isenberg Web Consulting & Project Management, or contact Sara by email if you have any project management, account management, or Development Team leadership or service needs.