Fitting the Mold

Hi.
I’m Erin.

I shop at The Gap, love khaki pants, wear dress shoes to work, drive a Honda, eat processed foods, shop at Wal-Mart, don’t wear vintage clothes, don’t have bangs, am not a member of the local roller-derby, consider myself an artist (and will say so instead of dodging the question by sounding thoughtful about what an artist really is and how that just isn’t me), listen to mainstream music like Dave Matthews Band or Five for Fighting or John Meyer or Jason Mraz, and don’t consider my long term boyfriend my “partner” or “partner in crime” (we’ll be married someday, right now he’s just that – my boyfriend, oh, and crime would indicate that maybe the authorities are after us and that’s not a good idea).

As you all know by now, I sell my yarn, spinning fibers and jewelry on Etsy. However, I’m afraid I don’t fit the Etsy mold. I worry that because I don’t look like “Etsy” when you see me at a craft show that I’ll never be interviewed by Etsy. I’ll never be featured because during the day I book events at Walton Arts Center at an 8 – 5 job so I don’t get to put cool things like “walk by the local creek while coming up with new conceptual ideas for my shop” in a list of daily activities because it’s dark when I leave for work and it’s dark when I get home from work. I fear that I will never catch the eye of Etsy because I eat corndogs from my freezer (yes, the Wal-Mart brand) instead of shopping all day at Whole Foods or harvesting my veggies from my huge garden behind my house in a pituresque part of the country (I have a drive way and a huge slab of concrete behind my house). Am I too white bread for Etsy?

I don’t think so. Oh, I know I’m generalizing what Etsy is. SO many artists on Etsy are not the vintage wearing, mary jane sporting, looking cute in their blunt cut bangs, able to roller skate and gets to go flea marketing twice a week kind of peeps, but a lot are. What sticks out to me about Etsy features, articles, interviews, etc are those people and I’m not those people.

What I am is someone who really connects with all kinds of people. I’m the best friend from high school, the band nerd, the person who can sell a funky yarn to the girl wearing the skirt over the jeans with the vintage glasses but also the girl who can sell some classy yarn to the 78 year old grandma visiting with her family at the local Farmer’s Market. I’m middle ground. I can hang with the hipsters or I can talk band camp stories with the non-hipsters (and it’s great if I can combine the two). I can be laid back with my spinning wheel dreaming of dyeing my hair pink on the weekends but also be found at a business meeting throwing the next big idea out there about how to raise an extra $100,000 on client events in a year.

I am Etsy… but I’m not Etsy.

Go figure that one out.

Oh, and once again, I will never be too important to say that I’m an artist and leave it at that. I don’t need to create a person that I’m not just because I think someone in Portland, OR will read my interview and think I’m totally cool and that we should hang out sometime. I am who I am and I’m not afraid to put that down on paper. I dare someone to interview me – as white bread as I am.

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12 thoughts on “Fitting the Mold

  1. You go girl! I know I'm not 'etsy' either… but I'm happy to take what I can get when it comes to exposure there.Sometimes I wonder if etsy is my target market, or if I've conformed what I do to fit the market of etsy. It's a tough one.All you can do is what makes you happy and go with the flow. If the creek runs upstream, so be it.I like white bread, AND whole grain. And I have frozen corn dogs in my freezer too.♥

  2. Who are you kidding? I've seen the photos of your garden. And, um, check out your writing style and "virtual" presence. You are so Etsy!! 🙂

  3. Sonji Hunt says:

    I didn't know there was an "etsy" way to be. Oops. My bad. Maybe there are more of us than you think. You will be fine. Just make cool stuff and be happy. I don't shop at walmart or keep anything in the freezer but I'm not "etsy" either. I will admit to a vast love of anything made with white flour, though. Anyway, I honestly, I don't think anyone is as "etsy" as it seems. Which, in turn, is really "etsy". I'm confusing myself. Now…to check out your stuff.

  4. idyll hands says:

    Oh Denise – I'm so Etsy without the bangs and vintage glasses. That's what kills me! :)And my garden was lacking this past year… new yard… new shade issues.And Janell – I honestly don't know if I would have found spinning like I did without Etsy… so it has impacted me. I'm sure I've found inspiration there that wouldn't have come elsewhere. It's interesting to think of what would have been different about my biz without Etsy.

  5. idyll hands says:

    And Sonji – I agree. I think a ton of us aren't the image that I think of when I think of funky crafty chick. There is this person that lives in my imagination that fits that image and when reading some interviews, that person comes to form. It's almost as if some people answer interview questions because it fits that image.I think that is really what happens. We're all just normal really 🙂

  6. your little rant was charming….

  7. thanks erin,I honestly just finished reading one of the interviews on etsy and had one of those "i'm inadequate" moments. it is so funny that even in the most "non mainstream" place there still seems to be that mold we feel we need to fit. I sure as heck don't fit the typical mold either, but I still know I belong because there are other people out there like me, working their day job and wishing that what they have to find time for after the day is done were their day job. So anyway, thanks for putting yourself out there.

  8. um, i am SO Etsy. and so NOT Etsy, too. let's have lunch. at Chick-fil-a. they have great tea…and the chicken is deep fried, but not overly processed.so glad i found you.

  9. Just like any act that plays the Walton Arts Center – you're getting a standing ovation. :)That guy at the Farmer's Market told me I was making hipster bags, so I guess that's all I need.

  10. Sarah says:

    I'm glad to know there are others out there! I want to be a lot more Etsy-ish, but I prefer my contacts, my patio barely supports a few flower pots, much less a garden, and the vintage clothes are never in my size.From the look of your shop though, you, you've mastered the look of FP level product photography, so maybe you'll land that interview, even if you're not rocking pink highlights or catwoman glasses.

  11. You made me laugh with your description of the Etsy girl because on the surface it sounded a lot like me except I'm not on Etsy. I thought it was I who would not fit in. And I don't necessarily want to fit in. What I don't like is the constant self promotion and yelling look at how cool I am! I would rather just do what I do and if someone finds it (I hope that they do)they like it and buy it. If not that's ok too. Check out my post about the whole 'personal branding' gaggle going on at my blog.

  12. Swanknitter says:

    I know there's a "folky crafty" image of a lot of independent artisans, but I don't see the Etsy typecatsting. I'm just glad there is a marketplace for people like you and I was able to steer people to Esty for Christmas gifts when they were looking for something a bit different from what they were being offered elsewhere. From MY standpoint, if you have a good product, I don't care whether they highlight you ar not. I have to keep away from the Buy now! and Paytpal buttons, otherwise I'd e broke.

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