Etsy has loosened its restrictions on sellers of handmade goods over the past several years, so much so that it has now launched a directory of approved manufacturers they can use to help produce their goods.
Etsy plans to monetize the directory, writing, “In 2016, we plan to offer the ability for designers to order from manufacturers on Etsy, which may have associated fees in the future.”
The directory, announced last month, went live this week. The move is hotly contested, and comes as Amazon launched a store for handmade items on its giant marketplace called Handmade at Amazon.
In announcing the manufacturer directory in September, Etsy wrote, “Nearly two years ago, we changed our policies to allow approved Etsy sellers to use production assistance to make their goods, provided they partnered in ways that were aligned with our values and policies. Today we are beginning to invite manufacturers and individual makers to apply to join our new Etsy Manufacturing marketplace in an effort to make it easier for our sellers to source responsible production assistance when they need it.”
Etsy sellers can now search the directory for manufacturers in four categories: apparel and textiles; machining and fabrication; printing; and jewelry and metalwork. It currently includes only US and Canadian manufacturers.
But lest anyone think Etsy is opening the floodgates to mass-produced items, it reminded users in its announcement: “Our Handmade policy hasn’t changed. If you partner with an outside manufacturer, you’ll need to submit an application to Etsy and get our approval before listing items made with that manufacturer.”
As of June, 5,000 sellers had been approved for outside manufacturing, resulting in 7,853 partnerships, with 85% of those relationships between sellers and manufacturers in the same country.
A search of the directory for a manufacturer that does laser etching using acrylics located anywhere found a number of hits, including a company called Scissormill.
While the listing page for Scissormill has a prominent “Contact manufacturer” button that allows sellers to communicate with it through Etsy’s messaging system (called Convos), there’s also a section where you can find Scissormill’s website and social media pages.
Etsy said designers may continue to work with manufacturing partners found outside of Etsy Manufacturing, so long as they apply and receive approval.