My Visit with Etsy

So Etsy has a bi-weekly event called Eatsy, where all employees of Etsy eat together.  Etsy employees, known as Etsy admin, can invite Etsy members for a visit and a tour, plus meet with various staff members that might be helpful to their shop.  I got invited to one last week by Bernadette Sweeney, Director of Community Connections.  Etsy is located in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn, which is only a subway ride away from my house. Not every Etsy member is that lucky and I felt very privileged to get picked.  What I took away from the hour I spent there is that Etsy really practices what it preaches.  I’d love to work there - if I wasn’t already doing too many things full time, lol. 
Etsy Reception Area

Etsy Office Space
The first thing that struck me when I stepped through the entrance was how relaxed and welcoming everything looked.  The foyer is lined with plants, and the reception area contains lots of handmade items that set the tone for the company, which is all about handmade after all.  The work areas are open and spacious, dress is casual, and nobody has to punch in and out.  There are no phones on the desks (they’re not really needed) but there are little “phone” booths off to the side where one can make calls or sit with someone and chat privately. Bernadette allowed me to take some photos to share with everyone on my blog.
Etsy has a sizable kitchen area.  Lunch is catered twice a week by local restaurants, it is organic and sustainable whenever possible, not served on plastic plates but recycled paper with real silverware.  Every lunch has a vegetarian option.  There is a compost and the paper is collected separately.  There are coffee machines and refrigerators, but no plastic cups, only mugs which you can take outside to get a coffee at one of the local shops.

During lunch, I got to meet Kim Alfonso who is the Director of Seller Development.  She's the force behind the seller's handbook, the success tips and some of the other blogs.  We swapped stories about possible blog entries and we talked a lot about what works well on Etsy, as well a little about where there could be improvements.  Kimm was very interested in finding out my views about the seller platform, which is why it is so important for Etsy to meet with some of its sellers in person.

I also met with Nadine Heintz, the Seller Editor Content Manager, with whom I had a long chat about the convo system and custom orders.  As those of you who ask for custom work with me know, the convo system can quickly get unruly and then it is hard to find the important part of the conversation where the details of the order were settled.  And since I often manage 10 or more custom orders at once, I can easily get mixed up (and I have!).  I also get a lot of questions more than once.  To help with this, Etsy has created snippets, where you can copy snippets of conversations, i.e. my policies, with a couple of clicks, so you don't have to write everything twice.

Another thing I took away from our discussion was that I should create a custom order sheet which can be uploaded into the convo system.  That would eliminate some of the back and forth.
One of the things that really surprised me during my Etsy tour was that dogs were allowed in the work area.  I met Beanie (photo) and two other cuties that lazed around near their respective owners.  I wish more companies did that!  Etsy also has rooms with couches and other seating areas where you can work if you don’t feel like sitting at your desk, another thing that made the atmosphere very relaxed.  Those rooms are often used for meetings, or for workshops held by employees that want to share their craft.  In fact just about every room and every desk was decorated with some handmade item or other which the staff had bought on Etsy (every new hire gets a $100 gift coupon to buy something for their desk).
Kitchen Area

Working Space with Couches
Etsy is what's called a B-Corporation, which is short for Benefit Corporation.  This is a for profit corporation but it has a special certification, similar to Fair Trade (for foods and apparel), that holds corporations to a higher standard of accountability, purpose and transparency (you can find the full explanation at online).  The non-profit company B-corp is the certifying body, and there are now over 1000 B-Corporations all over the country.
The B-Corp standard is presumably why Etsy and its staff are so open to visitors.  I personally found it very reassuring that my mission to be sustainable and promote local artisanship aligned so well with Etsy’s own standards.  It makes me be very happy to be a part of it.
Etsy Mascot - Handmade of Course
Etsy Foyer
Bike Room