That's pretty much a summation of the email I received this afternoon.
And I can't say that I'm surprised, upset, or even all that bummed. If anything, it's one less update that I no longer have to guilty about not making. Etsy's wholesale program wasn't doing great by me but, up until this afternoon, I just assumed that I was the only one.
In late 2013, I was asked to be a beat tester for this exciting new thing that Etsy was trying: a wholesale program. Holy shit! This was a great opportunity- I had never considered the possibility of making my jewelry available for wholesale. I barely had a "real" website and had just come off of doing my first Renegade Craft Fair earlier that year. That I would be scouted by a large company as someone respected enough to help? That shit made me feel preeeeeetty good about myself.
By 2014, I was regularly sending out packages of merchandise around the globe. Thank goodness! This was great because my Etsy retail income had shifted, possibly owing to the policy change that allowed manufactured goods to be sold via the platform.
**The intention was that many Etsy users had become so successful that they needed outside help and this relaxing of the previously strict standards would help them grow their business models. Noble, Etsy.
The reality was that a lot of shops sprung up and flooded the marketplace with $25 wedding gowns, shitty scarves, and cruddy, mass-produced jewelry. The search function became useless. The vibe of the platform turned away from a place where you could find a variety of artists, working across disciplines and making some really interesting, out-there stuff (remember Regretsy???) and towards a platform for people who sold only one item, like, elastic baby headbands...or pencils with popular witticisms imprinted on them ("but first....
coffee kill me").
I don't think that Etsy will recover from this change. Why would they want to? These days, merch makes money. **
As a beta tester, the wholesale program was AWESOME. Competition was low and interest was high. I was so flossy that I bought a pair of handmade shoes with the words "WITH CARE" on the heels. Literally nothing would ever go wrong again.
Shit went wrong in 2016.
The wholesale program went live, competition grew louder. That wasn't the fatal flaw in the wholesale program, even if it was an inconvenience. Etsy was very discreet and I trust their vetting of the wholesale program. Again: noble.
The real problem is that I had no business running a wholesale program.
I had no info, no training, and no knowledge of how wholesale buying and selling really worked. I was, in a sense, a real dum dum.
There is A LOT that goes into successful wholesale programs. Planning. Branding. Editing. Loans. Legalese. Photography. Purchase orders. Net 30/60/90/maybe never. Bulk everything. I tried, twice, to get something going. I moved between lead services and enrichment classes that spelled out all the shit that needed to be in order before any of the pitching should even begin. Last year, I gave up.
(see my future post: "How I Turned My Failing Business Into a Successful Project")
I think Etsy and I are aligned in this. There is so much more to wholesaling a product than I had ever even considered. It's much more than taking a pre-existing listing and slashing the price by 50%. I applaud Etsy for coming to terms with this and deciding to end their brief wholesale program.
There are some things that don't need to be expanded upon and there are somethings that, when you come, you have to come correct. Stopping can feel terrible but it also opens up energy for other uses. Thanks for the laughs.