A new online marketplace called Handmade.com has officially launched with the mission of championing artisans and handmade products. The platform aims to provide an alternative to Etsy, which many sellers feel has strayed from its original vision.
Handmade.com Focuses Exclusively on Authentic Creations
Unlike Etsy, Handmade.com prohibits the sale of mass-produced goods and only accepts sellers who commit to specified ethical production standards.
The site launches with an initial catalog of over 50,000 unique handmade items across categories like jewelry, apparel, home decor, and gifts.
The platform plans to rapidly expand its artisan base, first across the Americas and Europe, then globally.
Tapping Into Growing Desire for Authenticity and Sustainability
According to co-founder and CEO Roberto Milk, the new marketplace caters to customers’ increasing desire for authenticity, sustainability, and human connection through their purchases.
The handmade industry is booming, valued at over $787 billion globally.
The new platform will provide a better path for artisans than Etsy, which sellers say now buries handcrafters amidst mass-produced goods.
Emerges Amidst Etsy Seller Dissatisfaction
Etsy generates over $10 billion in annual gross merchandise sales, but its artisan sellers have become increasingly upset with the platform.
Points of contention include:
- High seller fees
- Allowing manufactured products to drown out handmade items
- 2022 transaction fee increases that spurred a week-long seller strike
This new platfrom launches specifically to address this seller frustration and provide an alternative that stays true to supporting artisans.
Emphasizing an Ethical, Artisan-First Approach
The site will empower sellers through initiatives like its Handmade Corps volunteers and Village Council with elected artisan representatives overseeing marketplace policies.
“We’re an artisan-first marketplace with heart, that artisans and buyers love and trust. Our mission is simply to continue doing right by artisans.
We focus exclusively on handmade goods, promoting some of the finest artisans globally. Unlike Etsy, we say NO to mass-produced goods.” – Roberto Milk, CEO of Handmade.com
Expanding Beyond Etsy’s Reach Through Existing Global Infrastructure
Unlike Etsy, the new platfrom can tap into parent company NOVICA’s two decades of experience working with artisans worldwide. NOVICA already operates artisan empowerment hubs across Asia, Africa, and Latin America.
This global infrastructure allows the company to rapidly onboard sellers from regions where Etsy has little presence. The extensive network has already generated over $130 million for artisans.
Below is an interview with Roberto Milk, cofounder and CEO of Handmade.com.
The Schwab Foundation has named Milk an “Outstanding Social Entrepreneur,” the World Economic Forum recognizes him as a “Young Global Leader,” and The Young Presidents’ Organization has awarded Milk its Global Impact Award.
We also named Milk as one of its “40 Social Entrepreneurs to Watch,” and América Economía has awarded him their Cultural Preservation Award.
Q: What was the lightbulb moment / origin story of Handmade.com?
Roberto: Our lightbulb moment for Handmade.com actually traces back over 20 years ago to Stanford University, when one of my professors challenged the classroom to figure out a better way to help artisans.
Several of us put our heads together, determined to reinvent the import-export of artisan goods. The result was NOVICA — a breakthrough for artisans specifically in remote regions of the world.
We built out a network of Artisan Empowerment Hubs to help remote artisans sell their products.
NOVICA continues to thrive, doing everything for remote artisans, from photographing and interviewing each artisan about themselves and their products, to promoting, packaging, and shipping.
this new platfrom is the next step that expands to all artisans globally, including artisans throughout North America and Europe.
Our global Artisan Empowerment Hubs have been life-changing for thousands of artisans already, providing steady income, preserving dying traditions and supporting entire families and communities.
But most of our financial impact to date has been for artisans that live within a ten-hour radius from NOVICA’s Hubs.
But what about all the other artisans outside those zones, including artists across the US, Canada, and Europe? And in so many other countries?
How could we support their needs?
That’s where Handmade.com comes into play.
Now, especially with artificial intelligence and other elements available to directly assist artisans with their biographies, translations, and product descriptions, we’re able to launch Handmade.com as the ultimate Handmade marketplace — a home for all artisans everywhere.
NOVICA will continue to be the hands-on champion of artisans who need direct assistance. Handmade.com is the new go-to marketplace for all artisans and artisan facilitators who are ready to get online themselves.
Q: What is Handmade.com mission and vision?
Roberto: Our mission is to provide a powerful, pro-artisan online marketplace for the benefit of artists and artisans everywhere around the globe.
Unlike Etsy, no mass produced goods are allowed at Handmade.com, and artisans are required to agree to ethically-made provisions as well as unscheduled workshop checks.
Our vision is to create a better world for all artisans. Not long ago, historically, almost all of us were artisans. Most of us created life’s necessities and life’s adornments with our own hands.
Handmade.com is the new home for all of us who appreciate handmade.
Q: How does Handmade.com impact lives in a positive way?
Roberto: Handmade.com positively impacts lives by bringing artisans and their customers directly together, forging bonds across cultures and borders, deepening appreciation of peoples in diverse regions through a shared passion for handmade.
This helps bring the world together.
Handmade.com also positively impacts lives by empowering artisans to earn fair prices for their products, while likewise empowering customers to find greater values and higher quality for their dollars — by shopping artisan-direct.
On all sides of the equation, we speak to the craving so many millions of us are increasingly experiencing in this era of big box stores and mass manufactured, faceless, nameless goods — namely a deep and growing desire for a return to authenticity, meaning, and direct human connection.
We are just at the beginning of a major global handmade revolution — and it’s happening now
Q: How have you funded the company thus far?
Roberto: We’ve done it all, we’ve raised over $20M in equity over the years, we’ve done term loans and working capital facilities, we’ve crowdfunded to start new Artisan Empowerment Hubs, we’ve received grants from USAID and the United Nations/ITC.
Each of those has specific advantages and disadvantages and they’ve all been important in our growth.
Q: What tools do you use to run the company?
Roberto: Our most important tool is our shared homegrown Extranet which all our team members use in different ways. We also use Trello, Slack and WordPress.
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