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Can you buy plausible deniability anywhere online now that Etsy's run completely out of it?
April 22, 2012 6:26 PM   Subscribe

On April 20th, Etsy, which as many of you know is an online marketplace for handmade and vintage goods and craft materials only, featured seller Ecologica Malibu and posted an interview they’d conducted with its owner Mariana Schechter, who talked about the salvaged wood furniture she designs and builds, and about how she "always felt that there was magic in the trees and a mysterious energy in the ocean" and that "there is something personal and unique that occurs when you craft something with your hands". Oddly for a featured seller interview, there was no detail given about the process of how Schechter makes her furniture and no photos of her in her workshop making them. On April 21st, April Winchell posted to Regretsy about Schechter. She’d delved a little more deeply into the matter, and though she didn’t come up with any photos of Schechter making furniture in her workshop either, she had found Schechter’s "work" on Overstock.com and bills of lading for furniture shipped from factories in Bali to her office building in Malibu.

Many hundreds of heated and snarky comments on Etsy and Regretsy later, an Etsy admin asked that Etsy users "continue to treat one another with respect and understanding" and closed comments on the article "while we take the opportunity to investigate this matter more fully", though strangely the Ecologica Malibu shop had been reported for reselling prior to the interview, and Etsy had found the shop to be legitimately handmade goods.

A day after Regretsy's exposé Ecologica Malibu’s Etsy shop is still open for business and earlier this evening, a coffeetable from her shop was among the handpicked items on the front page of Etsy. But Schechter has had to take a break from checking Bali invoices hand crafting her furniture to restrict her company's Twitter account and delete many comments from her Facebook page, and also take down the site on which she initially posted an “Refutation of spurious comments placed on Etsy.com by a confederation of dunces”.

Since Etsy has always, to put it charitably, seemed to find the enforcement of its own policies challenging, a petition calling for change has been posted on change.org.
posted by orange swan (246 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite

 
How I hate Etsy and there "whoever smelt it, dealt it" attitude to the many people who are constantly gaming their systems. Cupcakes and smarm for everyone!
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:30 PM on April 22, 2012 [7 favorites]


For me the most amazing aspect of this is how utterly shameless and unyielding Etsy is about refusing to shut down resellers. My theory is that this wholesale importer of Indonesian-made furniture may have paid them to run that featured seller article, in which case that would why they won't remove the article or shut down the shop, because it would be breach of contract.
posted by orange swan at 6:46 PM on April 22, 2012 [25 favorites]


Why would Etsy shut down these resellers exploiting sweatshops? Their listing fees and commissions represent a significant amount of the company's revenue at this point.

I mean, give me a reason besides "common fucking decency."
posted by beaucoupkevin at 6:49 PM on April 22, 2012 [22 favorites]


Etsy management, I mean. Lots of talented artists and craftspeople selling their work there, but they're being undermined, too, by the horrible cult of Nice Smug and the management's determination to be all LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU about the sellers who are flooding the site with sweatshop goods.

There was a fantastic sketch on Saturday Night Live in its first couple of seasons, the transcript of which I will link here rather than try to summarize its wonderfulness. I feel like the Etsy management is Elliott Gould's character, and everyone else is Garrett Morris's character. "Mr. Russo, man, he is busting your chops!"
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:49 PM on April 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


how utterly shameless and unyielding Etsy is about refusing to shut down resellers.

I would bet the process goes like this: If the "re"seller in questions goods are selling andEtsy is making their cut, the "re"seller will not be shut down.
posted by holdkris99 at 6:50 PM on April 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Hold on, that regresty post hasn't actually presented any evidence that the furniture isn't "handmade" by a member of "her shop" in Bali. Looking at etsy's brief description of its policies regarding this I'm not sure they've actually been violated.

Does something also have to be made by privileged white people in order to be considered handmade? I'm not sure how furniture made from reclaimed boat wood could ever manage to be meaningfully mass produced.
posted by Blasdelb at 6:51 PM on April 22, 2012 [17 favorites]


But Schechter has had to take a break from checking Bali invoices hand crafting her furniture

Was this really necessary? I can't see you quoting the article and you're really not supposed to take personal swipes below the fold.
posted by Talez at 6:51 PM on April 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


Blasdelb, I'm probably even less knowledgeable about this than you, but I believe the ire stems from the fact that people are generally encouraged and understood on etsy to be selling things that they themselves have made.

More esoterically, the issues of labour conditions and where the money ends up when you are outsourcing handmade goods to developing countries with lax laws and worse oversight, and paying your workers a fraction of the "retail" price makes - if not a mockery - a troubling dissonance to Etsy's schtick.
posted by smoke at 6:55 PM on April 22, 2012 [20 favorites]


In the Internet age, the attempts at shaming come long before the FTC complaint that could actually be, you know, meaningful.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:55 PM on April 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


I knew that the something was fishy about her interview when she says "after I gave birth to my daughter, I traveled the world!"

New parents know what I'm talkin' about.
posted by Ostara at 6:56 PM on April 22, 2012 [59 favorites]


Just to devil's advocate, why would Etsy slit their own throat like that, any more than eBay would?

I mean-- super photogenic Brazillian designer who poses with a sketch of a chair and a colorboard-- that's front page gold, and they get their 10 % out the door or whatever.

I have very, very little sympathy for anyone who thinks a hand-made and designed table can be had online for $240 and that's excluding the cost of white mini-dress web ready photosessions.

Ikea can do a circular wooden table for $199, for a point of comparison. And they make them by the kiloton.

http://www.ikea.com/us/en/search/?query=coffee+table
posted by mrdaneri at 6:57 PM on April 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Uh, everyone, if you scroll down through the Regretsy link.... you'll find a retraction of the allegations.
posted by Hither at 6:58 PM on April 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


The problem is exactly there in the concept of "mass produced". Etsy is primarily about limited-run handmade items: "hand" as in opposition to "mass" production. Employing a factory of workers to mass produce things is how the rest of the Internet sells things and undermines the "special" quality of etsy items.
posted by zinful at 6:59 PM on April 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Does something also have to be made by privileged white people in order to be considered handmade?

According to Etsy's policy, the goods sold must be handmade by the seller, so yes Schechter is in violation of the policy. Etsy does not attempt to regulate the level of privilege enjoyed by the seller and colour of the seller's skin, I'll say that for them.

Ostara: She went to 22 countries, no less!

Hther, that's no retraction. That's Winchell snarking on Schechter's attempt to backtrack.
posted by orange swan at 7:00 PM on April 22, 2012 [16 favorites]


Hither, the retraction is facetious.
posted by Ostara at 7:00 PM on April 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Uh, everyone, if you scroll down through the Regretsy link.... you'll find a retraction of the allegations.
Just a teeny bit of sarcasm there.
posted by Glinn at 7:01 PM on April 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I knew that the something was fishy about her interview when she says "after I gave birth to my daughter, I traveled the world!"

New parents know what I'm talkin' about.


Once I took a Chinatown bus to Philadelphia for the peace & quiet. Maybe multicountry is how rich people do.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:03 PM on April 22, 2012 [11 favorites]


How did Regretsy get the bills of lading? A mole inside Etsy privy to its investigation is the only way, no? Scandal!
posted by mediareport at 7:09 PM on April 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


According to Etsy's policy, the goods sold must be handmade by the seller

And they absolutely prohibit outside help? I'm blanking on the name of the seller, but didn't one of the $100k/year sellers of chunky knit scarves, hats, etc., admit to employing help in some major-news outlet article?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:10 PM on April 22, 2012


How did Regretsy get the bills of lading? A mole inside Etsy privy to its investigation is the only way, no? Scandal!

Has anybody registered EtsyLeaks.org yet? It seems not...
posted by acb at 7:13 PM on April 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


"Handmade goods created by someone else" is the third bullet point under "Not Allowed" on the sellers' TOS page. This is not unambiguous.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:17 PM on April 22, 2012 [16 favorites]


Sorry, my link didn't take on my last.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:18 PM on April 22, 2012


I meant, this is not ambiguous. Jesus Christ, the shoddy quality of handcrafted Internet posts these days!
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:20 PM on April 22, 2012 [27 favorites]


Does something also have to be made by privileged white people in order to be considered handmade? I'm not sure how furniture made from reclaimed boat wood could ever manage to be meaningfully mass produced.

Wait, what? I thought the whole point, the only reason anyone shopped at Etsy at all was because you explicitly weren't buying something mass produced, and buying it directly from the craftsman making it.

It says "Buy and sell handmade or vintage items, art and supplies on Etsy, the world's most vibrant handmade marketplace" right there in the header. This is about the "directly from the craftsman" part. not the "handmade" part.
posted by mhoye at 7:22 PM on April 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


Ha ha ha. I thought the person's name was Ecologica Malibu and couldn't understand why no one was snarking about that, so I went and re-read things a bit more carefully.
posted by neuromodulator at 7:23 PM on April 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


Sidhedevil: ""Handmade goods created by someone else" is the third bullet point under "Not Allowed" on the sellers' TOS page. This is not unambiguous."

The pretty clear fact that the hands that made the furniture were not her's is not actually against the TOS, so long as they were made in her shop. My understanding is that no one in that regretsy post is claiming that the items were not made by hand, that they were not designed by her, or that they were not made in her shop.
Handmade by you

With the exception of Vintage and Supplies, categories on Etsy are for handmade items. Handmade items must be created by the seller operating the Etsy shop (or a member of that shop). Below are general policies regarding handmade items on Etsy, as well as special considerations for certain types of listings or activities in the handmade categories.

-On Etsy, the term "handmade" can additionally be interpreted as "hand-assembled" or "hand-altered."
--Simply tailoring, restoring or repairing an item is not considered handmade.
--To be considered handmade, the seller must substantially alter the design of an item produced from a "ready to assemble" kit.
--Upcycled, reconstructed or significantly altered vintage items are considered handmade. These items should be listed as handmade, not in the Vintage category.
-Selling commercial or mass-produced items in Etsy's handmade categories is not permitted.
-You may not list handmade items that you (or a member of your shop) did not create. This is considered reselling and is not permitted.
-All items in the handmade categories must comply with Etsy's listing policies, including special policies for labeling handmade items.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:25 PM on April 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is the NYTimes article I was thinking of; note more than one seller admits to getting help with production. So where exactly does Etsy draw the line?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:25 PM on April 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


On preview, it looks like Blasdelb's post addresses what I was thinking of.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:26 PM on April 22, 2012


I meant, this is not ambiguous. Jesus Christ, the shoddy quality of handcrafted Internet posts these days!

All my shoddy comments are mass produced in a sweatshop and have been since 2010. Favourites are up and overheads down. Levels of bitterness and snark remain constant.
posted by howfar at 7:26 PM on April 22, 2012 [26 favorites]


On Etsy, the term "handmade" can additionally be interpreted as "hand-assembled" or "hand-altered."

Reminds me of a car advert from years back. Something along the lines of "80% finished by hand", with a picture of a proud venerable factory worker stood next to it. Which indicated nothing more than they let the poor old git polish it before shipping.
posted by howfar at 7:29 PM on April 22, 2012


Man, Etsy should just go ahead and hire Helen Killer/April Winchell. She's already pretty much acting as their conscience.

And maybe then they could force her to stop being such a mean-girl asshole about unattractive sellers naive enough to post pictures of themselves
posted by pullayup at 7:31 PM on April 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


I believe when they talk about "a member of the shop", they mean a member of the Etsy shop, not the seller's actual workshop where the goods are made. If Etsy handmade goods are made collectively, their names must all appear on the shop where they are sold.
posted by orange swan at 7:32 PM on April 22, 2012 [12 favorites]


That should have read, if Etsy handmade goods are made collectively, their names all the crafters/artisans names must all appear as members of the shop where they are sold.
posted by orange swan at 7:34 PM on April 22, 2012


How did Regretsy get the bills of lading? A mole inside Etsy privy to its investigation is the only way, no? Scandal!

tradebase (example)
posted by jjoye at 7:36 PM on April 22, 2012 [28 favorites]


It's precisely this sort of thing that keeps me from doing business with Etsy sellers. I know this hurts the folks who are really making their own things, but I refuse to give them my money until they actually enforce their own TOS.
posted by smirkette at 7:36 PM on April 22, 2012


mhoye: Wait, what? I thought the whole point, the only reason anyone shopped at Etsy at all was because you explicitly weren't buying something mass produced, and buying it directly from the craftsman making it."

HOW THE FUCK WOULD YOU MASS PRODUCE ANYTHING FROM BOAT WOOD? Much less furniture?

orange swan: "I believe when they talk about "a member of the shop", they mean a member of the Etsy shop, not the seller's actual workshop where the goods are made. If Etsy handmade goods are made collectively, their names all the crafters/artisans names must all appear on the shop where they are sold."

These are Etsy's policies, which mirror your concerns. However, They actually do exactly what you are saying they should.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:39 PM on April 22, 2012


tradebase

Whoa, I have learned something new and interesting. Thanks!
posted by mediareport at 7:39 PM on April 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Even the glass dishes with tiny bubbles and imperfections, proof they were crafted by the honest, simple, hard-working indigenous peoples of wherever.
posted by Yowser at 7:47 PM on April 22, 2012 [12 favorites]


However, They actually do exactly what you are saying they should.

Blasdelb, Mariana Schechter posted those other person's names to her shop listing after the Regretsy exposé, and her story became that she makes the furniture with help from several carpenters, but from the online evidence April Winchell has produced there is no indication that Schechter plays any part whatsoever in design or the production of the furniture she sells. It is shipped to her from a company in Bali, and her wholesale business is only one of the companies that sell this Indonesian furniture. Schechter is nothing but a wholesale importer.
posted by orange swan at 7:50 PM on April 22, 2012 [25 favorites]


Small collectives are allowed, if I recall. Importing furniture from Bali, even if you design it and pay your workers fairly, is SO not allowed. Etsy is rife with resellers, though, you aren't allowed to bust resellers in the forums.

Recently (I couldn't find the article, sorry) Etsy abruptly shut down a long-time seller who had outsourced some of her clothes to an ethical collective of local workers. It was technically a factory, but employed about 10 people. Which is against Etsy policy, but seems rather inconsistent considering Etsy is full of listings like this. Wow, look at all those handmade pocket watches! I had no idea so many people had mastered the difficult art of watchmaking... notice I searched in the "handmade" category.

The most annoying part is how self-consciously groovy and self-congratulatory the whole Featured Seller article is. I mean, they always read like the writer graduated from the Technical College of Unbearably Pretentious Wittering. But the fact that this chick is a reseller makes it even more ridiculous.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 7:51 PM on April 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yeah, Etsy frustrates the hell out of me. I regularly flag things for being resale or not vintage, and nothing is ever done about it. With the resale things I've flagged I've even been able to send links showing the exact same, mass produced products being sold in several places. For the not-vintage, I've found links to the product being sold online, like specific styles of Jeffrey Campbell shoes. Etsy doesn't care; the same items are still for sale days and weeks later.
posted by oneirodynia at 7:52 PM on April 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have very, very little sympathy for anyone who thinks a hand-made and designed table can be had online for $240 and that's excluding the cost of white mini-dress web ready photosessions.

Ikea can do a circular wooden table for $199, for a point of comparison.


Well, I certainly don't see any $240 tables in the shop now. To continue your comparison, I got something not entirely unlike this at IKEA for like $20.
posted by adamdschneider at 7:54 PM on April 22, 2012


Ok. Ok. I realize that this post is not "hay kavasa what are your thoughts on etsy and regretsy, broadly speaking" but, you know, that's ok. I'm going to share them anyway.

I think that of course Etsy is reluctant to ban people that both break their terms and move a lot of gods. I mean sure anyone making $8/hour can ban any schmuck with annual sales totaling $4.71, but you have to go up the chain a ways to ban someone Schecter.

That said, whichever higher-up hasn't banned Schecter yet doesn't really understand how their site makes money, I don't think. I know it's rich for me to say that, what with my extensive experience running a business for 0 seconds (ever), but still. The draw of the site is its TOS; the whole reason people try to game the system is because there's a price premium that can be charged for that cachet. Scandals like this erode that value, and it is possible to put yourself out of business by destroying your brand.

Libel law exists for a reason, after all. Keeping Schecter around is not going to save the business if and when all the actual craftspeople and artisans bail.

I am of mixed minds about regretsy.

I think the exposes on the shills are both funny and awesome, and if etsy had a clue they'd pay very specific attention to them.

I'm largely ok with posts like this, as it's probably some lazy prick trying to make $200 for 20 seconds of "work". And the "I haz a thirsty" image from this post made me laugh into my hand until I accidentally drooled into it, which was gross, but ok because it's funny. I'm even fine with this because the lady made her dress, and it's wearable, and she doesn't give a shit what you think anyway, and I think that's awesome. If a little bit, you know, out there. But whatever, she's having fun, she gets props from me.

On the other hand, posts like this just make me sad. At first I couldn't even tell what it was - some screen-printed fabric draped on ... what? And then I scrolled down to the second picture and realized oh, it's supposed to be a dress.

I hope the maker never find out she was posted to regretsy, you know? It's definitely... it's not really a garment, you know? The person that posted it isn't really a person that knows how clothes work, but she tried (assuming, here, that it's a woman). And she's not really aware enough to know that she failed, so she put it up on the net, and she'll probably feel hurt and sad when it doesn't sell.

Like the people that buy into pyramid schemes to 'sell' stuff by buying it from the company rather than getting commission, or someone that thinks they'll be able to make money by buying acrylic margarita glass and making sort of garish puffy-paint designs on them and selling them to their friends. You don't want to hurt their feelings, or say "this is also going to fail", but... who would want those things?

Just thinking about the awkwardness and unpleasantness of trying to gently explain to someone that you're sorry, but you have no interest in purchasing their things that they made or decorated and are hoping to make a living with... ugh. It makes me feel faintly nauseous.

So I wish the regretsy lady wouldn't post those, is all I'm saying I guess.
posted by kavasa at 7:59 PM on April 22, 2012 [15 favorites]


That's not "her shop," she didn't design the furniture, and in fact until she was called out she made an elaborate pretense of having built it herself. Why are people so bent on giving this lady the benefit of the doubt? Mr. Etsy, she is busting your chops!
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:06 PM on April 22, 2012 [26 favorites]


The WSJ just ran an article this week called Buest by the Craft Cops about their process for rooting this sort of thing out.
posted by stoneweaver at 8:07 PM on April 22, 2012


orange swan: "However, They actually do exactly what you are saying they should.

Blasdelb, Mariana Schechter posted those other person's names to her shop listing after the Regretsy exposé, and her story became that she makes the furniture with help from several carpenters, but from the online evidence April Winchell has produced there is no indication that Schechter plays any part whatsoever in design or the production of the furniture she sells. It is shipped to her from a company in Bali, and her wholesale business is only one of the companies that sell this Indonesian furniture. Schechter is nothing but a wholesale importer.
"

Looking through the FPP and the links in the comments I wasn't able to find any evidence that Schechter does not play a role in the design or the production of the furniture she sells, is there something I've missed? I don't see any indication that All From Boats and Ecologica are anything other than two different companies with the same employees and same production model with different schemes for selling what are indeed obviously the same handmade goods.

Yeah its kind of shitty that the carpenters weren't specifically cited originally, if indeed that is the case, but this whole xenophobic mess is giving me an idea of why that might have been the case.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:14 PM on April 22, 2012


Does anyone know if there is any correlation/causation between being featured on Regretsy and an uptick in that seller's sales? I sometimes wonder if being on Regretsy doesn't actually help more people than it hurts, at least as far as the legitimate -- but painfully clueless -- craftspeople go.

Also: xenophobia, really? Is that what you think is driving this? Not meant to be snarky, Blasdelb, I'm asking sincerely.
posted by That's Numberwang! at 8:17 PM on April 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Everything's hand-made. I mean, someone has to press the start button on the robot right? What else are you going to press a button with if not your hand?
posted by onya at 8:17 PM on April 22, 2012


Ugh, all that stuff is butt ugly.
With the exception of Vintage and Supplies, categories on Etsy are for handmade items. Handmade items must be created by the seller operating the Etsy shop (or a member of that shop).
What does it mean to be a "Member of that shop"? I don't think it just means "employee" but rather another Etsy member, working with you in a team.
HOW THE FUCK WOULD YOU MASS PRODUCE ANYTHING FROM BOAT WOOD? Much less furniture?
The same way you mass produce something from tree wood? You pile it all up and then grab pieces and have people saw/glue/sand/nail them from patterns until you have furniture? How is that even confusing?
On the other hand, posts like this just make me sad. At first I couldn't even tell what it was - some screen-printed fabric draped on ... what? And then I scrolled down to the second picture and realized oh, it's supposed to be a dress.
Dude are you kidding? It's a three wolf moon dress. It's a pretty well known internet meme, it's meant to be taken sarcasticly/ironicly. I'd be shocked if the designer wouldn't think it was awesome to be on regretsy - it's probably meant to be a gag gift.
posted by delmoi at 8:24 PM on April 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


(Midwesterner here)
There was a time that the antique shows in the area refused to allow any fakes or "container goods". As the antiques business changed - and more designers were shopping the markets - You started to see the container goods slip into the markets. Cheap Indonesian and Chinese knock-offs started appearing in booths next to dealers that had been hand picking antiques for sale. The traditional antique dealers saw this as a a travesty. It cheapened the efforts of their hunting - the efforts at creating a market for unique and unusual items.

The problem was - the general public didn't see the difference between the mass produced crap and the unique found items. They bought what has featured in the latest magazine. Often times this was crap that was promoted by the same people producing the knock-offs. It was a giant circle jerk.

I could be wrong, but I see the same situation happening here. You're being sold a policy of goodness - but letting the sly capitalists be the ones that become the main sellers.

One thing about the old school antique sellers. There were always people who sought them out. Buyers who knew they had the real deal. Not some crap you could order from a catalogue.

My advice, find the ones who matter and spend your money with them.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 8:36 PM on April 22, 2012 [16 favorites]


Yeah, "Member of the shop" doesn't mean employee, it's a situation where, for instance, a husband draws cartoon characters, and the wife makes dolls that are based on the cartoons. Or a collective, where maybe 3 friends all crochet, and none of them are very prolific, so they open a shop together to sell all their items so the shop doesn't look bare.
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:39 PM on April 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sidhedevil: "That's not "her shop," she didn't design the furniture, and in fact until she was called out she made an elaborate pretense of having built it herself. Why are people so bent on giving this lady the benefit of the doubt? Mr. Etsy, she is busting your chops!"

Could you point out any record of this elaborate pretense?
posted by Blasdelb at 8:42 PM on April 22, 2012


Blasdelb, if you think people are angry at Schechter because of "xenophobia" I don't know what to say. Let me suggest that the difference between what Schechter has done and what importers who respect the talents of the people who make the things they sell is huge. Look at Novica.com as a contrast--I have some issues with their management, but at least they don't disappear the actual artists and craftspeople in their marketing.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:43 PM on April 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


it's probably meant to be a gag gift.

I think you gravely underestimate how very seriously the creators of truly terrible etsy products take both themselves and their ~arts. Especially where Twilight is involved.
posted by elizardbits at 8:43 PM on April 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Looking through the FPP and the links in the comments I wasn't able to find any evidence that Schechter does not play a role in the design or the production of the furniture she sells, is there something I've missed?


The fact that you can find these designs all over the internet? Is she designing them
for the wholesalers on Alibaba who will sell to anyone that wants to fill a shipping container?

Here's the same furniture from a place called Zenporium.

Here's a wholesale seller on Alibaba

Here's another.

Here's another company selling the same stuff.

There's more, but I'm tired of looking at these ugly things- at these point I'm beginning to believe that the vast majority of it doesn't even come from wrecked boats, they just paint and distress it all. Or maybe I'm just being xenophobic or something.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:44 PM on April 22, 2012 [25 favorites]


I don't see any indication that All From Boats and Ecologica are anything other than two different companies with the same employees and same production model with different schemes for selling what are indeed obviously the same handmade goods

Blasdelb, I think the shipping records indicate the stuff is coming from Bali assembled, which is the problem part, it's done at a factory far away and she's just reselling it like the other guy is. That it is on Overstock as well kind of points to this stuff being generic Bali stuff that she made up stories about designing. There's no smoking gun proving she didn't design and spec the building of her goods, but all this evidence strongly points to it being generic stuff from Bali that she just imports.
posted by mathowie at 8:44 PM on April 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


I dunno, Blasdelb, I think I get what you're trying to do here but if you look at how the story unfolded it seems pretty clear Schechter has changed her story more than once. "Yes I do buy wood from All From Boats" as an early response, then "Oh we buy the furniture semi-finished" once the bills of lading turned up. That's a pretty obvious red flag, and the hilarious fudging (if not "elaborate pretense") she does in the interview about what "handmade" means to her is another; she dances beautifully around actually stating it's her own hands doing the making. I get that you don't see those as a smoking gun, but damn, they sure do seem like standard operating procedure for someone trying to hide the specifics of their artistic process.

The bigger context, of course, is the accusation that there's a pattern of ignoring complaints about resellers on Etsy's part, and that featuring someone who blurs the line between "handmade" and "sells other people's handiwork" is just the latest insult to the purists who want to see Etsy focus solely on actual artisans who make their own crafts. That Etsy would be moving away from that kind of purism to earn more money on sales shouldn't be a radical notion to you.
posted by mediareport at 8:46 PM on April 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Blasdelb, the interview. The posting of things on Etsy as made by her. All the press releases she's placed on blogs.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:47 PM on April 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


Looking through the FPP and the links in the comments I wasn't able to find any evidence that Schechter does not play a role in the design or the production of the furniture she sells, is there something I've missed? I don't see any indication that All From Boats and Ecologica are anything other than two different companies with the same employees and same production model with different schemes for selling what are indeed obviously the same handmade goods.

Ecologica is the name of the Etsy shop where Mariana Schechter is selling her supposedly handmade furniture; All From Boats is Schechter's import business. All From Boats is clearly listed on Facebook and on Overstock.com and other places online as a wholesale importer that sells Indonesian furniture, and it is advertising the exact same furniture (and a huge amount of it!) that Schechter claims she is designing and building. The bills of lading that April Winchell provides clearly show that Indonesian-made funiture is being shipped to the Malibu address that both Ecologica and All From Boats "share", and Schecter's name is on those bills of lading. Ecologica is a front company, a blind. Schechter is selling imported Indonesia furniture on Etsy from her All from Boats company and claiming it is her own work.
posted by orange swan at 8:53 PM on April 22, 2012 [10 favorites]


How many salvageable boats have been wrecked in Indonesia to produce that much furniture?! Are they slapping together rafts, dunking them underwater, and then distressing the remains for form's sake?
posted by nicebookrack at 8:54 PM on April 22, 2012 [6 favorites]


Yes, it's not salvaged wood, it's distressed wood. Besides the obvious problem of supply at such a great scale of production, as some of the Etsy commenters pointed out, if you used salvaged wood you'd have problems importing it into the States because it would have lead-based paint on it.

From the Ecologica Etsy shop:

Forget that faux-distressed catalog furniture. Ecologica’s designs take full advantage of the natural windswept state of salvaged wood, maintaining weathered paint and notched surfaces.

Honestly if this woman walked, soaking wet, into a room where I was, and told me it was raining outside, I'd walk over to the nearest window and look outside to be sure.
posted by orange swan at 9:10 PM on April 22, 2012 [24 favorites]


Is the furniture any good? I realize internet decorum is grossly violated but are there largely satisfied customers, or are there large numbers of dissatisfied customers?
posted by bukvich at 9:18 PM on April 22, 2012


Of course the furniture is terrible, but Etsy got rid of all the tacky shit on its site or defined people who make tacky shit as being not artists/craftsmen there wouldn't be an Etsy.

Sidhedevil: "Blasdelb, the interview. The posting of things on Etsy as made by her. All the press releases she's placed on blogs."

Neither the interview nor the blog your linking to claim that she makes the furniture all by her lonesome. They are both consistent with the idea that she designs it, and so far we have yet to see a shred of evidence showing that she doesn't.

mathowie: "Blasdelb, I think the shipping records indicate the stuff is coming from Bali assembled, which is the problem part, it's done at a factory far away and she's just reselling it like the other guy is. That it is on Overstock as well kind of points to this stuff being generic Bali stuff that she made up stories about designing. There's no smoking gun proving she didn't design and spec the building of her goods, but all this evidence strongly points to it being generic stuff from Bali that she just imports."

I'm still not sure how the location or nationality of the craftsman who make the furniture should matter. However, if there are thousands of pieces floating around from a workshop with dozens of carpenters then that would indeed stretch the concept of "mass-produced," but there are low volume sales that happen on Overstock.com.

This would all be pretty trivial to check out if there are any Mefites who happen to be in Bali, All From Boats lists an address there.
posted by Blasdelb at 9:24 PM on April 22, 2012


> However, if there are thousands of pieces floating around from a workshop with dozens of carpenters then that would indeed stretch the concept of "mass-produced," but there are low volume sales that happen on Overstock.com.

Take a look at oneirodynia's links again. These chairs are listed with a different vendor as these chairs, and they both show up on this vendors website in Bali.

So two if not three businesses are making the same or similar stuff, all items which showed up on her catalog of goods she was claiming to have made herself in her shop.
posted by mrzarquon at 9:43 PM on April 22, 2012


[sigh] This is endemic in the world of art and craft shows as well, which inevitably get watered down by the assembled-from-kits people, and then eventually the outright resellers move in.
posted by desuetude at 10:03 PM on April 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


smoke writes "I'm probably even less knowledgeable about this than you, but I believe the ire stems from the fact that people are generally encouraged and understood on etsy to be selling things that they themselves have made. "

It's pretty obvious just looking at the etsy store that this isn't happening; there are thousands of man hours tied up in the furniture just on the first page of results it the furniture is indeed "handmade" from "reclaimed" wood.

Blasdelb writes "HOW THE FUCK WOULD YOU MASS PRODUCE ANYTHING FROM BOAT WOOD? Much less furniture?"

Much of the the wood on the shop's furniture looks distressed to me rather than reclaimed from boats. The large expanses of bare wood right along side unchecked paint, the bright colours and the wild patterns all point to the dubiousness of the reclaimed nature of the source material. Also the edges that would have to have been freshly cut to produce the furniture match the "weathered" wood; an effect that is hard to pull off post weathering but pretty easy if you weather the material after it has been cut.
posted by Mitheral at 10:04 PM on April 22, 2012 [13 favorites]


This would all be pretty trivial to check out if there are any Mefites who happen to be in Bali, All From Boats lists an address there.

The address could possibly be an "expediter" sort of person or business. I have a good friend who used to sell Indonesian-made furniture in a regular storefront (small business), and they hired a person on the ground there who does that sort of thing to coordinate and deal with shipping, red tape, and whatever came up. My friend designed most of her own pieces and she would go to Indonesia once or twice a year with her designs and work out the manufacturing details, etc.

From what I understood of the situation then, once her designs were out of her hands, it was pretty much a given that they'd be copied and offered around, so determining who actually originally designed any particular style or concept would be super difficult, unless that's changed or I misunderstood.

Anyway, I don't keep up with Etsy much, but I was actually under the impression that as far as original handmade stuff-only goes, that ship had sailed (pardon the pun) and wasn't even a speck on the horizon any more. The last few times I've checked for anything on Etsy, it was a major slog to wade through hundreds and hundreds of mass produced items to find any actual handcrafted offerings. I gave up on finding an owl pendant that a) I liked, and b) wasn't being sold in its thousands on eBay for 99 cents from China.
posted by taz at 10:05 PM on April 22, 2012 [5 favorites]


[Comment deleted; maybe we can dial back the "she's pretty and wears a pretty white dress" stuff?]
posted by taz at 10:31 PM on April 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm a veteran craft show participant so hopefully I know what those shop at them accept as handmade. It means that we have designed and made it by ourselves. It doesn't mean we design it and have it produced in Bali. It would be extremely disingenuous for us to sell work that we called handmade if we have others create it (and conveniently neglect to mention it). That's not commonly accepted definition of handmade.

As the list of craft shows grows along with the number of artists vying to get in, there's been a noticeable increase in "buy / sell" work where the so-called artist has gone overseas to reproduce artwork (or just plain outright buy it). This isn't craftsmanship. This isn't fashioning the work with your own skill, your own materials and your own hard work. That's what people expect when they are purchasing work labeled as handmade.

Sadly, Etsy and some other craft venues have put making money above running an honest operation. While we receive a monthly, happy talk email from Etsy on how to "quit our day job" and "create the perfect marketing scheme", a tour of the site reveals a race to the bottom. Underpriced work that makes it harder for real craftspeople to compete. Obvious imports sold as originals, again at cheap prices. Work that's knocked off from other craftspeople. Cookie cutter work that is merely stamped out with no real craft involved.

Real craftsmanship is made by real people. A real painter doesn't design his work for someone in India to produce. A real potter doesn't send drawings to China and wait for the next shipment. That is manufacturing and it has no business being called handmade.
posted by jabo at 10:44 PM on April 22, 2012 [19 favorites]


Neither the interview nor the blog your linking to claim that she makes the furniture all by her lonesome. They are both consistent with the idea that she designs it, and so far we have yet to see a shred of evidence showing that she doesn't.

The point is that Etsy is intended for people to sell goods they personally make. Her work designing the furniture - and given that she's lied about doing everything else in the supply chain, I'm not willing to extend her the benefit of the doubt - is irrelevant. Apple CEO Tim Cook couldn't have an Etsy shop for his handmade iPhones, and I couldn't arrange to have a pizza delivered to your house and call it my home cooking, even if I very carefully specified what toppings to put on it, and had a gushing feature article written about my use of artisanal basil leaves and distressed, reclaimed Romano cheese.
posted by Homeboy Trouble at 10:45 PM on April 22, 2012 [25 favorites]



Neither the interview nor the blog your linking to claim that she makes the furniture all by her lonesome. They are both consistent with the idea that she designs it, and so far we have yet to see a shred of evidence showing that she doesn't.


Dude, you can buy the exact furniture from wholesalers on alibaba. She's not designing shit.

Here's another wholesaler. Their pictures are the exact ones All From Boats uses.

Here is an video of an entire warehouse full of the stuff. Same benches, round table, hideous "lounge" chair, same goofy boat bench. If she's designing all her things, why are they the same as everyone else's?
posted by oneirodynia at 10:45 PM on April 22, 2012 [9 favorites]


If the Pope got such apologetics as All From Boats, we'd all still be Catholic.

What's more likely? That she just happens to design for three companies (at least) under multiple names with a significant supply of lead-free salvaged wood or that she resells mass produced Indonesian faux-distressed furniture?
posted by klangklangston at 10:46 PM on April 22, 2012


Don't eat reclaimed cheese.
posted by Bookhouse at 10:55 PM on April 22, 2012 [3 favorites]


Don't eat reclaimed cheese.

Some cheese is deliberately lost and reclaimed.
posted by frimble at 11:03 PM on April 22, 2012 [2 favorites]


Real craftsmanship is made by real people. A real painter doesn't design his work for someone in India to produce.

While I think I understand what you mean, it sounds an awful lot like suggesting that "someone in India" wouldn't qualify as "real people".
posted by bardophile at 11:36 PM on April 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


Once you have them chained to a machine and flogged twice a day to keep production rates high, you probably also have an acronym to describe them rather than use sentimental terms like, "people".
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:47 PM on April 22, 2012


Oh look, there's more!

Who knew there was such a huge market for boatwood furniture?
posted by SisterHavana at 12:03 AM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


I hadn't looked at Etsy in more than a year, and have never ordered anything from there. I hadn't realized that it had moved on so far from the fervent focus on handcrafting that I had associated with it. That's too bad, though I can definitely understand it from a business perspective.

Real craftsmanship is made by real people. A real painter doesn't design his work for someone in India to produce.

Many artists manage large workshops that manufacture their art. There was a recent FPP with interviews with people doing that work, in fact.
posted by Forktine at 12:26 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oooon the road to IPO.... Aaawhoooo, ooo ooo ooo ooo, yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah.
posted by likeso at 12:46 AM on April 23, 2012


There's no smoking gun proving she didn't design and spec the building of her goods...

If you told me you were a chemist, but then it came to light that you didn't get the difference between ionic and covalent bonds, I'd say that was pretty much smoking gun type evidence something was amiss. In addition to chemistry, I know something about woodworking, so let me take you on a little tour.

Look at the mitered joints between the legs and the top of this table. Mitered joints have one purpose in life. To hide end grain. They do this at the expense of strength and longevity, but if hiding end grain is important to you then mitered joints are for you, but here, they're kind of a poor design choice.

OK, now look at the chair she (or the model they hired to be her, who knows) is sitting on in one of the links in the FPP. Since the tops of the legs go all the way up and the panel between the legs appears to be oriented the same way, the entire top of the arm is end grain. This would be a good place to hide the end grain since it tends to split and is going to cause spinters out the wazoo as it wears. Other design issues - the panel between the legs is likely to crack; there's minimal relief at the edge and no contour to the seat; there does not appear to be any structural component holding the seat up - just a bunch of 10d nails (into end grain); and the grain orientation in the chair back suggests that the top is going to snap off in short order.

By way of contrast, look at this one. There are still some issues, but this chair is lightyears ahead of the other, just in fundamental terms of being a chair. Somebody who couldn't be bothers to add a dado for the seat to lock into on the previous chair is also designing furniture with mortise and tenon joinery and contoured seats?

These sorts of design incongruities abound and strongly suggest that different people with different standards of quality construction, knowledge of technique and senses of aesthetics designed the different pieces. The Minna Tot Chair has stretchers to keep the legs from splaying (a good thing, (tm)), but has a bunch of design weaknesses that the Minna Toddlers Chair does not. But the toddlers chair, which appears to be larger, and so leverage being what it is, would be more likely to break the legs, lacks stretchers.

And if you look closely at the toddlers chair or at this table you'll see that the person who didn't bother to join the big thick slab seat and the big thick slab legs of her Rio Arm Chair with a dado or something is simultaneously putting draw-bore joinery into some of her other designs. Yeah, right.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:44 AM on April 23, 2012 [153 favorites]


Also, EcologicaMalibu's Etsy shop has ten pages of stock with hundreds of items, but all of it is apparently designed by one person and manufactured by four carpenters who don't even have full names. Also, "the studio keeps it ethical by purchasing wood from abandoned structures in developing communities". The idea that this is not a scam is too ridiculous to contemplate.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 3:41 AM on April 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Man, Etsy should just go ahead and hire Helen Killer/April Winchell. She's already pretty much acting as their conscience.

Regretsy has been calling out resellers for a while, and also the fact that, should you mention in any discussion on the site that something might not be hand-made, the admins will sanction you for 'calling out'. (This is pretty interesting too.)

The resellers are to Etsy what people selling Primark clothing as 'new like vintage' are to eBay. IT makes it hard to find interesting things.
posted by mippy at 3:59 AM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


HOW THE FUCK WOULD YOU MASS PRODUCE ANYTHING FROM BOAT WOOD? Much less furniture?

You can't.

Now, children, what can we deduce from this? Is it:

(a) The seller only makes a very small number of handmade items, the packing slips are a lie, and all those pieces of identical furniture on overstock.com are just the result of red matter leaking from the other universe; or

(b) IT'S NOT FUCKING RECYCLED BOAT WOOD, AND THEY PROBABLY HAVE TO HOSE THE ORANGUTAN BLOOD OFF IT BEFORE THEY USE IT.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:33 AM on April 23, 2012 [31 favorites]


I'm less amazed by the scammy-ness of this seller than I am that anybody can ever find anything on etsy using their search tools.
posted by srboisvert at 5:40 AM on April 23, 2012 [18 favorites]


I'm still not sure how the location or nationality of the craftsman who make the furniture should matter.

You seem really determined to make this the primary issue, which I think is a bit odd and unnecessary. Literally no one cares where the actual craftsmen of any pieces on etsy come from so long as that location or nationality is not concealed by a lying liar of a reseller who is exploiting those workers by claiming their work as the work of her own hands and thus turning a massive profit at their expense.
posted by elizardbits at 6:29 AM on April 23, 2012 [24 favorites]


I'm less amazed by the scammy-ness of this seller than I am that anybody can ever find anything on etsy using their search tools.

Which is precisely why getting a placement on the Etsy front page is so important.

It really does look like Etsy have dropped off the deep end doesn't it? This is pure speculation, but from the outside it looks like their business model probably depends on their cut of reseller income arising from using the Etsy imprinteur to rebrand imported crap-ware as handmade goods worth a premium price.

In this analysis, the resellers and Etsy are locked in a mutually dependent embrace, which will last precisely as long as the Etsy brand does. Neither can officially acknowledge the other of course, since that would kill the brand. In the meantime, anyone actually selling truly handmade goods on Etsy is really just providing useful cover for the main profit centre.

(Without having seen the Etsy books, there's no way to know if this is actually the case of course, but it seems horribly plausible & the "no call outs" policy is certainly of a piece with this analysis.)
posted by pharm at 6:45 AM on April 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


I've never gotten into Etsy although I've looked at some clothing and jewelry I've seen linked from other places on the site. Trying to find stuff I like on the site is like trying to sort through piles of clothing at a thrift store where nothing is labelled right. Both some of the "vintage" and "handmade" stuff has had me doing the side-eye.

I'm feeling after reading the comments and links here that my suspicion has been more than justified.
posted by immlass at 7:07 AM on April 23, 2012


I'm pretty bummed to learn that Etsy is such a glut of sweatshop products now, and I guess I was just in denial because the last couple things I bought there did have that feel to them. I'd rather go to a local craft fair anyway but of course the cool thing about Etsy was knowing you wanted something specific and being able to find it. Sad.
posted by latkes at 7:18 AM on April 23, 2012


I hadn't looked at Etsy in more than a year, and have never ordered anything from there. I hadn't realized that it had moved on so far from the fervent focus on handcrafting that I had associated with it.

There is a ton of great and wonderful stuff on Etsy, and it's a shame it's only in the news for all the BS (and there is a LOT of BS). So much great fine art - paintings/drawings/printmaking, sculpture, metalworking, pottery and lots of other cool stuff.

One of my main beefs with Etsy is that you can buy a pendant and a chain from Michael's, put them together and call it "handmade". You can buy a finished wood box, add one store-bought sticker, and call that "handmade". (And people in the forums defend others' rights to make such things with a sort of self-righteous craziness I just don't get. But anyway.) Maybe "handmade" is just way, way too broad. (And that's for folks who actually do follow the rules, such as they are.) The shop in this post very clearly does not belong on Etsy if Etsy actually means/believes its own claims.

There are many, many sites out there where one can sell one's wares. But Etsy still has the lion's share of visibility, so I guess I'll stay there until something better appears. (If you know a great place, send me a convo!)
posted by Glinn at 7:45 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's a great business niche in here somewhere.

Corporate failures on this level always mean opportunity.
posted by aramaic at 7:48 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


anyone actually selling truly handmade goods on Etsy is really just providing useful cover for the main profit centre.

Pretty much this. I've been an Etsy seller for three years and a member for about five, and I've seen the resellers multiply like crazy. I make stuff which isn't a reseller-heavy area (yet), but jewelry, forget about it, it's like 90% straight resold. With a nice Etsy creamy-yummy markup, of course. Back in 2008, factory-made goods would get yanked as soon as I flagged them, but now they just stay up for weeks. And Etsy has a much bigger staff now. There's no way Etsy's not complicit in this.

I don't think it's inherently terrible to run a wholesale export furniture business--there are OK ways to do that. But she's deliberately pandering to the Etsy Default Narrative of home crafting to promote her huge import business. I would bet Etsy knew beforehand and just thought they could blow enough glitter in everyone's eyeball's, or something. But I think the worm may have turned with this one.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 8:08 AM on April 23, 2012 [14 favorites]


One of my main beefs with Etsy is that you can buy a pendant and a chain from Michael's, put them together and call it "handmade".

Agreed, and it's a big challenge about where to draw the line. The same components are available to anyone with a credit card or a PayPal account, so this becomes this
posted by ersatzkat at 8:09 AM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh yeah, and the Ecologica Etsy shop is still up.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 8:19 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


If the Pope got such apologetics as All From Boats, we'd all still be Catholic.

klangklangston, have you met any Catholics? An awful lot of them have become world-class apologists of late...

And Kid Charlemagne... nice work pointing out the craftsmanship incongruities. Too bad you don't have some sort of recognition for your wood-putting-togetherness skills. Maybe someday... ;)
posted by IAmBroom at 8:24 AM on April 23, 2012


I had to do a quick search for 'webring' to see if they still existed because selling handcrafted goods is precisely what they would be great at. Seems like after years of Geocities and Yahoo systematically mismanaging it, Webring is back under private ownership.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 8:28 AM on April 23, 2012


Comming back to this thread in the morning, Kid Charlemagne's analysis of the actual design of the furniture, particularly when combined with taz's knowledge of how stuff gets made in Bali, looks pretty damning to me. Flagged as fantastic.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:40 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Could you point out any record of this elaborate pretense?
What are you talking about? It's the main article in the FPP. You can buy these exact items by the containerfull all over the internet, and she clearly claimed to be designing and building this stuff herself.

Dude, have you been clicking the links? There are tons of sites selling the exact same stuff They are all identical. It's impossible that Maria could be the person doing the designing unless she was a Balinese millionaire, or the employee of one.

Seriously, why cling so tightly to this obvious scam?
I think you gravely underestimate how very seriously the creators of truly terrible etsy products take both themselves and their ~arts. Especially where Twilight is involved.
Except, uh, Twilight is not involved in the specific one I'm talking about.
posted by delmoi at 8:52 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]




I'm still not sure how the location or nationality of the craftsman who make the furniture should matter.

It doesn't.

What we're getting at is, Schecter is saying "I made this furniture myself", but really, it's people in Bali who did the work FOR her. The issue isn't the nationality of the person who made the furniture, it's that Schecter is getting the credit, not "Ida Ayu Ngurah" or whomever the Balinese person is who actually did the work.

Now, if it were Ida who had taken out the Etsy page from Bali, there wouldn't be this furor.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:56 AM on April 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


I'm pretty bummed to learn that Etsy is such a glut of sweatshop products now, and I guess I was just in denial because the last couple things I bought there did have that feel to them. I'd rather go to a local craft fair anyway but of course the cool thing about Etsy was knowing you wanted something specific and being able to find it.

Well, you can still find lovely things actually made by people, and I know enough about vintage to be able to buy decent stuff (and the last thing I bought from Maker Faire turned out to be a mass produced item sold by many people at craft shows and on Etsy). It takes research and being cynical from the get-go, though, which most people aren't going to bother with. Basically if the prices are too good to be true it's worth investigating. I stay away almost entirely from Bath and Body shops, most of whom buy lotion and body butter by the gallon and scent it, add some color, pack in a jar, and voila, "handmade"lotion. There are a few people who really make their own, but most Etsy consumers don't care enough to google ingredients or notice that every shop sells the same vegan deodorant in the same packaging.

The worst thing about all this is the people who suffer the most are the people who really are making handmade things. They have to charge more to cover their time and effort so their prices seem high compared to fakers, their stuff gets hidden by a flood of crap, they have to contend with other people ripping off their handmade designs for mass production, and the people they want to reach, people who care about buying directly from the artist, are being driven away by the fact that Etsy does nothing about resellers. It's clear with every new feature they roll out that it's all about Etsy making money at the expense of both consumers and shop owners. They've started pushing targeted ads when their search engine is really weak, so now you get even more noise in your search, it's just that some poor shop has paid for it. If you look at some of Regretsy's older posts, you'll see some where she pointed out that all the feedback for a shady seller was from a single user- that's no longer possible, because Etsy has made feedback anonymous, which pretty much means that anyone can game it if they put the effort in (they "had" to do this after they rolled out some social networking crap that made it much easier for any random person to check out everything you'd bought ). It's really a shame, because Etsy has been a great way to find one-of-a-kind things. They're going the way of Ebay at this point.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:12 AM on April 23, 2012 [15 favorites]


Neither the interview nor the blog your linking to claim that she makes the furniture all by her lonesome.

They say she makes it with her hands. They say it is made out of boats. These things are clearly not true.

No, nobody has proven that she designed this furniture. Nobody has proven that it isn't made by hand or finished by hand (though the immense scale of production makes that claim a bit questionable).

But I don't believe either, and she hasn't offered anything that makes me believe either to date.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:16 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Nobody has proven that she hasn't designed this furniture," I mean.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:17 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's the same furniture from a place called Zenporium. Here's a wholesale seller on Alibaba.
Here's another. Here's another company selling the same stuff. There's more, but I'm tired of looking at these ugly things- at these point I'm beginning to believe that the vast majority of it doesn't even come from wrecked boats, they just paint and distress it all. Or maybe I'm just being xenophobic or something.


No. You're not. I strongly suspect that it's regular ol' wood and the "All From Boats" story of reclaimed wood from old Balinese fishing boats is indeed, JUST A STORY!

A lot of old boats would be required to fulfill the quantity and inventory of all of the various online and real world outlets which carry the same goods.
posted by ericb at 9:22 AM on April 23, 2012


Interesting suggestion at Regretsy:
"Somebody who’s a good writer should pitch this as a story to This American Life to cover – I would love to hear Ira Glass talking about how Etsy promised to help the independent artisans but really only wanted to get rich and all the nefarious things they uncovered when they researched it."
posted by ericb at 9:24 AM on April 23, 2012 [15 favorites]


... it's people in Bali who did the work FOR her.

Are we even sure that such is true?How about a factory elsewhere?
posted by ericb at 9:28 AM on April 23, 2012


> ... it's people in Bali who did the work FOR her.

Are we even sure that such is true?How about a factory elsewhere?


Whereever the location of the factory is isn't germane to the ultimate point, which is that Schecter is not the person who made the materials her own self.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:30 AM on April 23, 2012


It'd be sweet if people could maybe read Blasdelb's latest comment before piling on, but maybe that's too much to ask.
posted by adamdschneider at 9:46 AM on April 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


Regretsy identified this instance of Etsy complicity with a reseller earlier this month.
posted by exogenous at 9:48 AM on April 23, 2012


but maybe that's too much to ask.

how dare you expect us to act like rational adults sir

how very dare you
posted by elizardbits at 9:58 AM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


exogenous, just an FYI: that's actually a year-old post that Regretsy reposted earlier this month. (They've been rerunning on weekends lately, which they sometimes do whenever April/Helen is working on other projects.)

But your point still stands: Ecological Malibu is far from the first reseller whose cozy relationship with Etsy April has called out.
posted by bakerina at 10:00 AM on April 23, 2012


Ecologica Malibu. Dammit. The gap between my brain and my fingers is now so wide that any day now I expect a violent and bloody secession, a la "The Body Politic" by Clive Barker.
posted by bakerina at 10:17 AM on April 23, 2012


It'd be sweet if people could maybe read Blasdelb's latest comment before piling on, but maybe that's too much to ask.

Eh, Blasdelb got off lightly for someone suggesting that the reason people are concerned that this woman is breaking the Etsy TOS is due to xenophobia. I guess an apology for unsupported and unfounded insinuations of contempt for Indonesians is too much to ask for.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:30 AM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


They're going the way of Ebay at this point.
From the perspective of the people who run Etsy, why wouldn't they want that?
posted by delmoi at 10:42 AM on April 23, 2012


Eh, Blasdelb got off lightly for someone suggesting that the reason people are concerned that this woman is breaking the Etsy TOS is due to xenophobia.

I'm not speaking for Blasdelb's feelings or on that point specifically, it merely irks to see people debating points that have a.) already been pretty thoroughly debated and b.) withdrawn.
posted by adamdschneider at 10:46 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


....Maybe some of us weren't talking to blasdelb.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:50 AM on April 23, 2012


But if anyone believes that Mariana Schechter is actually designing and building this "salvage wood" furniture at this point, I've got a sixty-year lease on some Florida swampland I'd like you to have a look at.
posted by orange swan at 11:10 AM on April 23, 2012


While I think I understand what you mean, it sounds an awful lot like suggesting that "someone in India" wouldn't qualify as "real people".

Yeah, that was a poor choice of words due to ranting past bed time.

I'm not arguing against the workers who produce the cheap, knock-off work. I'm angry at those who represent it as handmade. If you want to buy distressed, island furniture that is openly marketed as mass produced by low wage workers, knock yourself out.

This work actually supplants the indigenous arts and crafts and exposes workers to toxic work environments. On the other hand, there are importers who help to support the local culture and artists that make their products. Santa Fe has a Folk Art Market every year that brings artists and craftspeople from all over the world. It's packed with folks who want authentic, indigenous crafts.

Here in the Southwest, we have the problem of wannabe Indians who profit from gullible tourists. I've seen jewelry catalogs that sell work that is specifically derivative of Native American design. I don't have a problem with the poor Chinese kid who is making zillions of "Navajo" rings per day for 5 cents. I do have a big problem with someone who sells it as authentic and also crows about how well traveled and culturally sensitive they are.
posted by jabo at 11:21 AM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm not arguing against the workers who produce the cheap, knock-off work. I'm angry at those who represent it as handmade. If you want to buy distressed, island furniture that is openly marketed as mass produced by low wage workers, knock yourself out.
I don't disagree with your main point and I think this may be semantics at this point, but bear in mind that often those low-wage workers may also be making the items by hand -- but there is a tendency to consider items that are handmade by poor people to be cheap and mass-produced, while those made by people in affluent countries are handmade and one-of-a-kind. Again, I don't think this is what you're saying here, but sometimes there's an echo of that sentiment and I just wanted to point it out.
posted by peacheater at 12:14 PM on April 23, 2012 [5 favorites]


" I'd rather go to a local craft fair anyway" - the sad thing is that so many of those have turned into the same sort of thing. People selling the same stuff from Alibaba, booths with "country clutter," and 5 Scentsy booths.
posted by drstein at 12:33 PM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


From the perspective of the people who run Etsy, why wouldn't they want that?
Because it will quite possibly cause the business to fail. Ebay already exists, and I doubt they can compete with ebay on its own turf. The only reason people come to etsy is the perceived value in the cachet of 'handmade' goods. When that perception goes away, so does the value, and people stop buying things off their site.

As I said above, brands have value. Libel suits exist for a reason: destruction of a brand's public perception can and has destroyed many a business. Etsy is taking a risk with this behavior, and I don't think it's a wise one. Penny wise, pound foolish and all that.
posted by kavasa at 12:38 PM on April 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Hopefully it isn't a wise one.

But as companies grow, their markets, and the ethos needed to sustain them, can change. Starting out they have to be 'the real thing', and have to play it straight with the early adopters (social co-builders?). Once established then the reality becomes less important, and the early adopters mostly irrelevant, if not an outright hindrance.

Not to say that this is a Good Thing (it really isn't*), or indeed a completely Relevant Thing in this case (they would seem to still need a thin veneer of real craftsy types at the very least), but it is a Thing (customer segment pivot, in the jargon).


* At least not if you follow the antiquated belief that people should make things primarily and money incidentally; rather than money primarily and actual things if it can't be avoided.
posted by titus-g at 12:55 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


"While I think I understand what you mean, it sounds an awful lot like suggesting that "someone in India" wouldn't qualify as "real people"."

I'd just rather buy from someone in India than give my money to someone who pretends to be that someone in India.
posted by klangklangston at 1:02 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


The one that shocks me is, look at this blue chair vs the price on this green chair. In terms of platonic chairness, virtually everything about the green chair is superior to the blue chair. It would almost certainly be more comfortable, sturdier, and consumes less material (which is more environmentally sound and will save you money on a hernia surgery).

That said, if my shop was laid out for production (and not so a guy with a short attention span could have about five projects going at a throw), me and two or three other guys just like me could probably crank out more than 50 of those blue chairs in a day without much trouble. But there's a lot more work in the green chair. Cutting tenons, shaping that back leg. putting the curve in the seat - there's probably three times as much labor in the green chair (and the shop making it requires more and more specific tooling) as in the blue one. Yet the blue chair costs almost twice as much as the green one. That suggests to me that the cost driver for this is either shipping or materials and cost of labor comes in a distant third.

In my mind someone in India (or where ever) qualifies as "real people" when you treat them like real people. If they rank below an 60 foot shipping container on your org chart, you're failed to grasp the "real people" brass ring.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 1:37 PM on April 23, 2012 [17 favorites]


In fact one of the worst parts of it is that "someone in India"(or indeed Bali) /is/ real people. It should be them doing the selling and making the full net profit for their labour. Cunning and the willingness to monetise mores shouldn't be more profitable than talent and skill. Idealistic maybe, but etsy is kinda predicated on that ideal.

There was also a point about fair-trade soapstone Simpsons heads made in Kenya , but I am too beset with melancholy (and red wine) upon discovering that they are no longer trading to remember it.

Hopefully it wasn't that it is possible to do these things right, as that would be some obscure reference foot shooting right there.
posted by titus-g at 1:59 PM on April 23, 2012


> I'd just rather buy from someone in India than give my money to someone who pretends to be that someone in India.

That pretty much sums up my attitude as well. If the original manufacturers opened up an Etsy store, no one would complain (and as Kid Charlemagne points out, it would be a collection of different builders it looks like). Well maybe Mariana who would say they were stealing her ideas and selling knockoffs in the Etsy store.
posted by mrzarquon at 2:00 PM on April 23, 2012


http://www.etsy.com/listing/96024013/rio-arm-chair

450 dollars for that chair ???

I'm in the wrong line of work.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:14 PM on April 23, 2012


....Maybe some of us weren't talking to blasdelb.

I'm on a phone so I can't easily check right now, but if you didn't quote Blasdelb post-retraction and proceed to refute, then I wasn't talking to you. Some people did.
posted by adamdschneider at 2:31 PM on April 23, 2012


>The one that shocks me is, look at this blue chair vs the price on this green chair.

Exactly what I thought when I read your great comment above - $450 for a chair I could knock out in a hour versus $250 for one that would take me the better part of a day. Something ain't right.
posted by lost_cause at 2:33 PM on April 23, 2012


Yeah, but the craftspeople in India/Bali/Pakistan/other non-rich countries are not going to have access to this market at all. What is more likely to happen is that someone from the US/England/other rich country will travel, see the work being done, reproduce it and then make a boatload more of money than the original craftspeople will ever imagine earning in their entire lives.

I realize that this runs into the difficult area of artists legitimately taking inspiration from all sorts of sources, and I'm not sure what a good solution is.

peacheater: Yes, you articulated precisely what was causing me discomfort about the "real craftsman" comment. Thank you.
posted by bardophile at 2:35 PM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


They don't currently have access: but there must be better solutions than accepting their exploitation as the best possible solution (as sweat shops are, I mean otherwise the kids would be working 10 times the hours back on the farm, and wouldn't get no education!).

A lot of the way things work is based on the thatcherite/reaganite concept (distilled and bastardised from hayek and the like) that There Is No Alternative. To quote Arundhati Roy from her 'Come September' doodaht (slightly out of context):
it's a failure of the imagination. An inability to see the world in terms other than those that the establishment has set out for you.
There are alternatives, there have to be.

It's basically like S2E20 of Farscape: we don't necessarily want to be hairy Crichton, but that doesn't mean we have to weird-ears-sociopath Crichton. [Sweatshops or poverty is a false dichotomy].
posted by titus-g at 2:54 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


ermm, S2E10 even.
posted by titus-g at 2:59 PM on April 23, 2012


It's not just a failure of imagination; it's also a huge failure of will. There are small-scale initiatives that try to provide equitable access to domestic markets (I know these exist in India and, to a lesser extent, Pakistan. I imagine they exist in other countries as well.). They work, in a manner, on a small scale. But then you run into the problems of patchy infrastructure, of corruption when any source of income can be identified, of basically any initiative relying, fundamentally, on the continued good will of the founder.

These are not easy problems to overcome. I'm not saying they are impossible. Just that they tire out a lot of people who start out extremely committed.
posted by bardophile at 3:02 PM on April 23, 2012


…I think this may be semantics at this point, but bear in mind that often those low-wage workers may also be making the items by hand -- but there is a tendency to consider items that are handmade by poor people to be cheap and mass-produced, while those made by people in affluent countries are handmade and one-of-a-kind.

I don't disagree at all… that's why I pointed out the Folk Art Market and other venues that highlight crafts from indigenous people that may not otherwise have an outlet to sell their work. And after years of doing craft shows, we're well acquainted with the perception that our work was somehow less valuable than work in a gallery. It's a big reason why we stopped doing them.

Most jewelry work is produced by hand. Both the craftsperson (rich or poor, foreign or domestic) and the low wage production worker can use the same techniques, they use a mold, grind and polish the piece, set the stones, etc. all by hand. However, the craftsperson is usually the one whose work is of a higher quality and that's why it's important that their work be recognized.

An impoverished production worker may create work by hand, but it usually has no connection with his culture and won't bring him much more than the paltry payments he earns. A pot made by a Native American artist has a design and materials significant to his culture. The cheap knock off has neither and detracts from the work of the former. Both could technically be called "handmade".

To me, calling art or craft work handmade is a multi-part (and probably imperfect) definition. The work is made by hand, has a recognizable quality (or craftsmanship), is original AND the artist is represented as having made it. Whether it's made by a wealthy retired banker in Santa Fe or by a poor African tribesman, if all of those criteria are met… I think it could legitimately be called handmade.
posted by jabo at 3:33 PM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


The failure of the imagination is more that of the consumer and the system (if a system can have imagination). There is massive amounts of imagination out there, especially among those who can't just buy solutions to their problems (afrigadget.com, instructables.com, and the like). The whole 'Make' culture is a bit odd in a way, in that it's now a subculture but it used to be the norm.

But that's an aside.

Trying to run an honest business is pretty much a losing proposition. Essentially you have to have a seriously (unprofitisable) niche market, or one that requires enough skill that it can't easily be replicated.

The company that brought us Gore Tex seem (seemed?) to have managed it : http://blogs.wsj.com/management/2010/03/18/wl-gore-lessons-from-a-management-revolutionary/

The women's co-operative producing Argan oil in Morocco ( http://www.worldartisanguild.com/ucfa.html ) may.

In the long run it may well be impossible (speaking as someone who is quite surprised at still being in a worker owned and managed business (admittedly an &bros.) 14.83 years after it started, and not sure about making 15.83), but better poor and honest than rich at another's diminuation (I reserve the right to wimp out on that one).
posted by titus-g at 3:40 PM on April 23, 2012


Damnit. Regretsy is like TV Tropes. Haven't been there in over a year and now I can't stop looking.
posted by eyeballkid at 3:54 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Etsy is a lot like eBay in that both don't really seem to have the will or desire to truly ferret out wrongdoing on their site. Why would they? Ultimately, a stronger approach to fraud prevention costs them twice: first in the labor to find and ban unscrupulous sellers, and secondly in lost revenue from lower sales. Looking the other way or doing nothing is more profitable, and the P.R. hit of the occasional exposé like this one is relatively minor.
posted by MegoSteve at 4:20 PM on April 23, 2012


Honestly, I'm thinking the best thing to do would be to just remove the "handmade items only" rule. It's clearly not being followed and, if the shops not following it make up a vital revenue stream for the company, customers don't seem to care.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:22 PM on April 23, 2012


> It's clearly not being followed and, if the shops not following it make up a vital revenue stream for the company, customers don't seem to care.

Well, the problem is many customers may be buying goods on the assumption that because it is on Etsy (and not listed on Ebay) it is a handmade item, and therefore worth the associated markup.

So either Etsy can enforce their own policies, or change their policy, at the risk of it now being officially known that they are no better than Urban Outfitters or Anthropologie or any other company that sells the glass dishes with tiny bubbles and imperfections, proof they were crafted by the honest, simple, hard-working indigenous peoples of... wherever.

The problem is do they have a large enough user base to ensure that the users they alienate because of those practices are less than the ones who don't give a fuck and see it as yet another Ebay type service? And the users who see it as yet another ebay like service are more likely to move on to next cheaper wholesale pseudo crafted website that crops up. Etsy is trying to monetize their community of artisans and craftspeople, which is hard to do when it is no longer that, just furniture importers and wholesalers.
posted by mrzarquon at 5:03 PM on April 23, 2012


So before reading this post I had no idea how widespread the reseller problem was. I've avoided Regretsy because of the making fun of people's looks aspect.

It would be interesting to know the percentage of total etsy business that is from reseller shops, but obviously sort of impossible to find out. In my experience as a buyer, it really doesn't seem like that much. In that by searching for whatever and clicking on the pretty items I very rarely have ended up at a shop that's obviously a reseller. Just as it's easy to identify resellers, it's fairly easy to identify legitimate sellers from their profiles and shop policies (e.g. they have some stuff that's made to order/measurements, you can convo them to request different sleeves on a shirt or whatever).

So if a customer cares about buying handmade and/or buying directly from the person making the item, then Etsy still fills that demand. At least for now anyway. This might also depend on what kind of goods we're talking about, maybe reselling is a lot more prevalent in certain categories.
posted by beautiful spinster at 5:31 PM on April 23, 2012


Update: Etsy republishes its Featured Seller interview with Mariana Schechter, deletes the comment thread, and adds this Editor's Note:

We’ve amended the interview below with additional information from Mariana about her Malibu, CA-based operation. Ecologica Malibu is a collective shop, run on Etsy by Mariana with help from a local staff. In keeping with Etsy’s rules, that collective should have been disclosed within the shop; this is now corrected.

At Etsy, we believe strongly in transparency, and we should have done more in this case to live up to that value. As editors, we should have ensured that relevant details about the people and processes behind Ecologica Malibu came through clearly in this interview. In that regard, we failed and we apologize.

We know you expect to see the best of Etsy in the Featured Seller series, and so our Marketplace Integrity team reviews every shop prior to selection. Based on information Mariana provided us, we were confident that Ecologica Malibu fit our criteria. Our policies on member privacy prevent us from disclosing details of Mariana’s sourcing and business relationships; each seller on Etsy benefits from this protection of privacy. However, we can assure readers that we’ve thoroughly investigated all the questions raised publicly over the last two days with Mariana, including sales on other websites and related business entities. Mariana has documented that the furniture sold on Etsy through their shop is constructed in their Malibu studio from raw materials sourced in Indonesia.

Please remember that discussing a specific member, shop or item (either by name or with identifiable hints) in a negative way is not allowed on Etsy, as you can read in our community policies. The community is the heart of Etsy, and there’s a real person behind each name here. Some of the reaction to this feature has really crossed the line and doesn’t live up to our shared standards. For that reason, we’re taking the rare step of removing all comments, negative and positive, from this post. You are always free to share criticisms of Etsy and we encourage you to do so; if you have a concern about another member, please email Etsy Support directly. We are listening. You can leave your further feedback about Etsy and our policies in this forum post. Thanks. — Juliet


For those who can't access the forum boards (I think an Etsy account is required), the aforementioned forum post went up at 5:14 p.m. EDT. The community response was largely not impressed. At 7:57 p.m., with approximately 300 comments posted, the admin shut the thread down:

As I asked previously, please -do not- discuss other members of the Etsy community in a negative fashion. You can find our policies for Etsy's community spaces here:

www.etsy.com/dosdonts.php#thecommunity


I've only read the first four pages of the 30-page thread, so I don't know who triggered the shutdown, or whose name they invoked negatively. But it's interesting to see how fast Etsy can move when it really, really wants to.
posted by bakerina at 5:35 PM on April 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Forgot to say also that some customers are willing to pay the (usually) higher prices not just because of the handmade aspect but because they can't find exactly what they want elsewhere. I think this is especially true for made to measurement clothing. You can get something that fits you perfectly and is exactly the length you want or whatever for not actually that much more money (more money than forever 21 prices but often less than say non-sale anthropologie prices).
posted by beautiful spinster at 5:44 PM on April 23, 2012


kavasa: I am of mixed minds about regretsy.

I'm not, they appear to be quite horrible people who pick easy targets and write horrible things about them in a slightly amusing way. They are your ACME high school bully with a blog, thesaurus, and more wit than humanity. Presumably Fox news wasn't hiring when they graduated.

That they uncovered a real crime isn't a credit to them, in today's world it's just that are the only ones who benefit from publishing it.

In the short term anyway, their entire site is essentially vampiring etsy, so if they actually kill the host then they die too.
posted by titus-g at 6:17 PM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Mariana has documented that the furniture sold on Etsy through their shop is constructed in their Malibu studio from raw materials sourced in Indonesia.

Heh. One of the wholesale vendors that I found that ships this identical furniture ships it as flat-pack, so it has to be assembled when you receive it.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:28 PM on April 23, 2012 [15 favorites]


I'm on a phone so I can't easily check right now, but if you didn't quote Blasdelb post-retraction and proceed to refute, then I wasn't talking to you. Some people did.

I did, because I hadn't seen his retraction given the short time lapse between it and my reply (I don't know if my iPad didn't refresh properly or what).
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:43 PM on April 23, 2012


"My reply to his earlier comment," I meant.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:43 PM on April 23, 2012


At 7:57 p.m., with approximately 300 comments posted, the admin shut the thread down:

As I asked previously, please -do not- discuss other members of the Etsy community in a negative fashion. You can find our policies for Etsy's community spaces here:

www.etsy.com/dosdonts.php#thecommunity

I've only read the first four pages of the 30-page thread, so I don't know who triggered the shutdown, or whose name they invoked negatively. But it's interesting to see how fast Etsy can move when it really, really wants to.


I haven't seen the offending post- I believe it was deleted (could have missed it skimming) but I did see a reply to it on page 22 I think- one person mentioned "Ecologica".

At any rate, there was no admin participation in that 30 page thread at all, even though people were asking for clarification. Not a peep, at least, until the thread was shut down.
posted by oneirodynia at 6:44 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]




I very rarely have ended up at a shop that's obviously a reseller

That's part of the problem, it isn't always that obvious. There are definitely fantastic artists on Etsy, but a lot of jewelry I see there is either buy / sell, something made from a design or kit of another artist (many jewelry artists are now selling DIY jewelry kits along with teaching classes) or imported components strung together.

And that doesn't mean it looks bad; some of it looks pretty nice. It's just that I have seen the original on another artists web site or in a wholesale jewelry catalog. I've seen our own kit designs appear on Etsy in all manner of forms and at insanely low prices. We occasionally get emails from folks who ask if they can sell the jewelry they make from our kits (we tell them it's ok if they credit us).

We joined Etsy about 2 years ago in the rush to join the web social network. This thread just confirms the impression that we've gotten from our membership. We stopped doing craft shows because the organizers were accepting more and more marginal work and that reflected badly on us to the shoppers who attended. Etsy is the same thing, a race to the bottom.

OK - I gotta go to work and stop blabbing… just a few last points. This thread has been a great help to us to confirm that we need to bid Etsy adieu so thanks to everyone for the input. It gave us a lot to think about.

Second, when I talk about "our" work and "us", I really mean my incredibly talented wife who makes our jewelry. I just help lift stuff.

Finally, please support your local HANDMADE artist.
posted by jabo at 7:24 PM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Hey jabo! I remember you — you once posted about your wife's wonderful work to an FPP I did in which I mocked macramé.

So I'm catching up here, on Etsy's clarification and with the comments on Regretsy (someone posted a link to this thread) and Etsy. I cannot believe that Etsy really thinks they can just deny that they've not only allowed but promoted a wholesale importer on their site and have anyone ever respect them as a company again.

I know I am very seriously considering closing my account there. I bet a lot of other people are as well. We may be seeing the beginning of the end of Etsy.
posted by orange swan at 8:02 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I haven't seen the offending post- I believe it was deleted (could have missed it skimming) but I did see a reply to it on page 22 I think- one person mentioned "Ecologica".

It's just an educated guess on my part, but I think I found the triggering comment, on page 29:

Have you ever thought we're trying to fix this from the wrong end? Expecting admin. to fall into line with what the majority sees as keeping with the integrity of the site?

------

I agree - partly. It is wrong to berate admin. It is not their fault.

The problem is at the top.

Chad. Must. Go.

Posted at 7:55 pm Apr 23, 2012 EDT



Chad is Chad Dickerson, Etsy's CEO.

Two minutes later, at 7:57 p.m., the admin., Rob White, writes "please -do not- discuss other members of the Etsy community in a negative fashion" and shuts the thread down.

Like I said, this is just a guess on my part, and I have no way to prove that the comment about Chad was the impetus for Rob to shut down the thread. But truthfully, I'm not inclined to give Etsy much benefit of the doubt anymore.
posted by bakerina at 8:20 PM on April 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think the general internet phenomenon is that people will switch to a superior site once it exists but the original site will operate in a sort of 'walking dead' mode.

I'd love to have some example to give you but it's not coming to mind right now. But a large number of people who want to buy handmade are going to continue trying to find it on Etsy rather than stop all together. There needs to be a Real Etsy stat.
posted by unixrat at 8:26 PM on April 23, 2012


Hey jabo! I remember you —

That is one of our most favorite Mefi threads ever… so thank you!

Macrame Owls rule!
posted by jabo at 8:39 PM on April 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


So let me get this straight: Etsy starts a forum thread for feedback on this specific issue, then ignores the questions that are posted in that forum thread in response to its new position, then shuts the thread down entirely with no comment when someone points out that the Etsy CEO must surely be making these terribly poor decisions and should go.

My god. What a disastrous handling of this mess. Etsy's management couldn't be more insulting and dismissive if they sat down and said "How can we be the most insulting and dismissive we can possibly be?" Seriously, thank you so much for this thread, orange swan. It's been an eye-opener.
posted by mediareport at 8:39 PM on April 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


with no comment

Ok, make that "with dismissive comment" instead.
posted by mediareport at 8:54 PM on April 23, 2012


> Trying to run an honest business is pretty much a losing proposition... The company that brought us Gore Tex seem (seemed?) to have managed it

Gore-Tex might not be the best example of an entirely ethical business.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:01 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Kid Charlemagne's analysis of the quality of the woodworking in the furniture has been side-barred. And deservedly so — I know I flagged it as fantastic.
posted by orange swan at 9:27 PM on April 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yay, Jess! And oh, yeah, now I want a Kid Charlemagne AMA (except he might have to tell us what to ask). Absolutely, completely fascinating; I'd read his site. :)
posted by taz at 9:48 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's another good treasury.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:30 PM on April 23, 2012


I wonder how long it's going to take the Etsy admins to realize that this is not going to go away, and what they'll do next.
posted by orange swan at 10:41 PM on April 23, 2012


The top ten treasury lists (right now) are angry messages.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:48 PM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's not so much the woodworking as it is the design elements and how they go together (or fail to).

When you're trying to make furniture you have to serve two masters. One is human ergonomics. People tend to be certain sizes and bend in certain ways (and don't like to bank their knees on some protrusion you put on their table at just the wrong height. The other is the wood itself, because surprisingly enough, wood behaves like it was a natural product and not a high tech product of the space age. If you understand how it is strong and how it's going to behave when the humidity changes, you can make a really nice piece of furniture.

If you try to make it do things it doesn't want to, you will have furniture that tears itself apart withe the changing seasons and fails under gentle use.

The problem with the designs they're using are that they mix and match quality and lackluster design elements. If one person designed all of those pieces, it's as if for every two principles of furniture design they learned, it's like they had to forget something they learned previously.

I'm actually in the process of getting a blog together as sort of a personal "do a bunch of work on the house before I seek employment" journal. I'll link from my profile when it's ready for public consumption.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 11:43 PM on April 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


It'd be sweet if people could maybe read Blasdelb's latest comment before piling on, but maybe that's too much to ask.

Gimme a break.

Blasdelb wrote whole veritable screeds in which he argued that he didn't see what the issue was, and that we were all being racist and zenophobic because we didn't accept this hustler's account of how four Balinese carpenters were actually part of her Malibu Manufacturing Cooperative.

People can be excused if, after all that, they somehow managed to overlook his brief, two line mea culpa.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 12:09 AM on April 24, 2012


It's not in the top 10 (yet), but this is my favorite of the new Treasuries.
posted by bakerina at 12:13 AM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


[Enough with all the meta asides about one person's comments; if it's actually big enough to warrant continued derailing, it's big enough to take to Metatalk -- if not, let's leave it behind.]
posted by taz at 1:04 AM on April 24, 2012


I'm not, they appear to be quite horrible people who pick easy targets and write horrible things about them in a slightly amusing way. They are your ACME high school bully with a blog, thesaurus, and more wit than humanity. Presumably Fox news wasn't hiring when they graduated.

I don't think you've read the site much. The main targets for their posts are resellers and people who have the audacity to charge phenomenal amounts for clearly shoddily-made goods. Yes, there is a bit of snark about poor crafts, but it's always about the work, never the people behind it. (And 'Helen Killer' is a voice actress/comedian who is often extremely self-deprecating.) Craftastrophe is far closer to the mean-spirited bullying site you describe.
posted by mippy at 1:52 AM on April 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


The main targets for their posts are resellers and people who have the audacity to charge phenomenal amounts for clearly shoddily-made goods. Yes, there is a bit of snark about poor crafts, but it's always about the work, never the people behind it.

It's also worth noting that a lot of Regretsy members are crafters as well, some of them with their own Etsy shops, even. Given that, resellers and lazy crafters of the "this a stick tied to a rock represents the meaning of life" variety seem particularly fair targets.

The comments on posts about things that are just straight-up weird tend to be more good-humored, or even approving (e.g. "actually, I would totally buy TIE fighter-shaped fairy wings" - and then they do! I bet Regretsy probably drives a lot of business to some of the quirky but legitimate Etsy sellers), and sometimes (though admittedly not always) the sellers show up and seem pretty amused.
posted by naoko at 2:32 AM on April 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


Now this is an interesting new item for sale.

Wonder how long the listing will be live.
posted by likeso at 4:35 AM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Heh! It was just marked as "sold"!
posted by likeso at 4:36 AM on April 24, 2012


For posterity, the text of the listing:

I made this gorgeous chair out of reclaimed teak from boats in Bali. You should see the dirt under my fingernails from making this unique item.

I love making these ecological friendly chairs. I source the lumber from old boats in Bali, wherever that may be... possibly Singapore? I really don't know. I'm too busy making chairs to wrestle with the fine details.

If you want multiples I can do that too. Frankly I can make many more than you would think possible. Don't ask me how! Well, let's just say I'm kind of like Santa.

Allow 4 months for shipping. It takes time for me to get my materials from my resailors (these are sailors that have sailed more than once on these Bali boats). In fact, my resailors need to source their materials from their resailors. It's complicated. Please don't ask.

Note: the old paint and primer on these chairs are most likely toxic. Not recommended gnawing material for children you like.

Use coupon code "ShowUsTheIntegrity" to get 1% off.
posted by likeso at 4:38 AM on April 24, 2012 [9 favorites]


The top ten treasury lists (right now) are angry messages.

That's a fun new art form, using treasury lists to spell out snarky messages to Etsy corporate and the community. Is it a response to Etsy's ham-fisted shutting down of forum threads?
posted by mediareport at 6:34 AM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just closed my account. Not that they'll care -- I only created it to buy from one particular artist I already knew about, but still.
posted by aramaic at 6:53 AM on April 24, 2012


Looks like Etsy has started taking down the treasuries. You can see them on that page for the "regretsy" tag, but they're mostly gone if you click on them.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:15 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh, that'll work to stem the tide of criticism, for sure.
posted by mediareport at 9:00 AM on April 24, 2012


I told my father, who is a very skilled woodworker, about this whole brou-ha-ha-ha when I spoke to him last night. He greatly enjoyed my account of it, especially when I told him about Mariana Schechter's perfect little hand-model hands with their immaculate French manicure.

I'm waiting for this story to hit the mainstream press. Now that will be fun. Etsy still probably won't budge even then, but the more mud they have on their little poseur faces, the better I like it.
posted by orange swan at 9:11 AM on April 24, 2012


Heh! It was just marked as "sold"!

And according to a comment by the "seller" on Regretsy, it was bought by none other than.... Mariana Schechter herself! But, the seller continued, "bitch didn't pay", so the seller just cancelled the transaction. And Etsy of course removed the listing. The seller couldn't understand why, because he or she is a woodworker and could have made the chair depicted for real.

Regretsy commenters have begun discussing the possibility of reporting this furniture for possible toxicity.

This is a situation that just keeps on giving.
posted by orange swan at 9:32 AM on April 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


That's a fun new art form, using treasury lists to spell out snarky messages to Etsy corporate and the community. Is it a response to Etsy's ham-fisted shutting down of forum threads?

It's a response to Etsy's refusal to allow any open dissent on the site.
posted by orange swan at 9:40 AM on April 24, 2012




t's rspns t tsy's rfsl t llw ny pn dssnt n th st.
posted by ericb at 9:50 AM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


>Etsy’s Reseller Debacle: Handmade Site Features Questionable Goods.

Is this based on the republished Etsy article or the original? I'm guessing the former.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 10:06 AM on April 24, 2012


urbanwhaleshark, you guessed right. The quote from Mariana Schechter about paying for the wood and hiring someone to reclaim it for her and/or partially assemble it was not included in the original interview.
posted by bakerina at 10:11 AM on April 24, 2012


t's rspns t tsy's rfsl t llw ny pn dssnt n th st.

Thy'r fckd.
posted by delmoi at 10:42 AM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


Looks like Etsy has started taking down the treasuries. You can see them on that page for the "regretsy" tag, but they're mostly gone if you click on them.

You can find more Etsy dissent treasuries:here
posted by thewrongparty at 11:14 AM on April 24, 2012


Wow. Here's another form of underground protest: 10 listings entitled "Etsy sale, 99% off".
posted by likeso at 12:36 PM on April 24, 2012


Oh, right, won't be up long. The text of the listings:

In order to stay competitive with resellers on Etsy, I am offering you my artistic skills, hard work and all motivation to make the world a better and more beautiful place, at a whopping 99% off!

Take advantage of this incredible opportunity now whilst Handmade is on it's way out.
You may never see it again!

previous items I worked hard to produce for you may be viewed here:
http://www.choochmagooz.etsy.com

*Please note this listing is intended as a statement against the continual practice of allowing resellers to operate on this 'HANDMADE' Platform.
I personally value my artistic skill and it is NOT for sale...though feel free to purchase and I will put your 100€ to good use in furthering the Handmade movement!

Purchasing this, you will get this same statement handwritten by me, and framed in a hand guilded or sparkly glitter frame!
posted by likeso at 12:39 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Consumerist: Etsy Features Seller Who May Be Blatantly Violating Etsy Policy.
posted by ericb at 1:30 PM on April 24, 2012


Hand "guilded," huh.
posted by adamdschneider at 1:37 PM on April 24, 2012


Regretsy - UPDATE: Ecologica Malibu
posted by flex at 2:13 PM on April 24, 2012 [5 favorites]


Update 4/23:

HEY GUYS. Gosh we're so sorry. They're actually a COLLECTIVE.

Some of my favorite bits:
"Ar Etsy, we believe strongly in transparency", and
"We are listening."

Yeah. I guess it's time to move to Artfire.
posted by Glinn at 2:13 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


dammit flex!
posted by Glinn at 2:13 PM on April 24, 2012


That Regretsy update is remarkable -- really, go read it.

[begin comic book guy voice]
Worst Cease & Desist Ever!
posted by aramaic at 2:30 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Some of the egregious comments may also be considered ASSAULT or INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL INJURY which always carry punitive damage some of the direct treats are also crimes under California law, and if they are repeated we shall immediately contact the Los Angeles Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office.

Would a guy that's been practicing law since 1973 really send a letter like this?

Also: treats!
posted by oneirodynia at 2:52 PM on April 24, 2012 [3 favorites]


From the Worst Cease & Desist Ever (emphasis mine):

Were one of the statements to be true, truth would be absolute defense. Many of the people making these comments are wreck less fools but the burden of proof is on the person making the comment each of which may be sued individually requiring separate counsel or at our election in such group as we decide.

Dude, I know that New York Times v. Sullivan was decided only nine years before you passed the bar, but I'm pretty sure that it's been good law ever since then. Even in California.* You might want to read up on what it says about who has the burden of proof in a libel action.

*NOT CALIFORNIST
posted by bakerina at 4:42 PM on April 24, 2012 [2 favorites]


wreck less fools

Please let this become a new Internet meme! I want to see it everywhere for the next year!
posted by orange swan at 7:01 PM on April 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Aww, I came to snark at the C&D letter too.


"Those of you who have business or business contact with etsy.com are also committing the TORT OF UNFAIR COMPETITION. Some of the egregious comments may also be considered ASSAULT or INTENTIONAL INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL INJURY which always carry punitive damage some of the direct treats are also crimes under California law, and if they are repeated we shall immediately contact the Los Angeles Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office."

Well, I suppose the cops could use a laugh. And who doesn't like direct treats!

If any of you communicate and assist each other this may well constitute the crime of conspiracy under CA and Federal Law.

I think you may be missing an element or two there, fella.


If you hold any state license in any state you reside or do business these comments may be grounds from discipline, be further advised that the law is most state is that “a tale bearer has the same responsibility as the a tale maker”, so there’s no defense that you are only repeating something you heard elsewhere."

Oh, the irony.
posted by snuffleupagus at 7:12 PM on April 24, 2012


—California Penal Code Section 158: "Common barratry is the practice of exciting groundless judicial proceedings, and is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding six months and by fine not exceeding one thousand dollars ($1,000)."

Return "libel" with barratry (douche isn't likely to know that barratry takes at least three filings in CA).
posted by klangklangston at 8:27 PM on April 24, 2012


This store must move a ton of product. It's kind of amazing that Etsy is going out of their way to protect these people.
posted by delmoi at 10:06 PM on April 24, 2012




It's kind of amazing that Etsy is going out of their way to protect these people.

Well, this kind of thing apparently gets pointed out to Etsy corporate all the time and nothing gets done about it. Etsy doesn't care these days about policing the "handmade" thing; if I'd been at the site for a while I'd be furious at the betrayal, and actually seeing an importer featured prominently? Last straw territory, for sure.

I hope for crafters who care there's another decent option soon.
posted by mediareport at 6:18 AM on April 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


The problem was - the general public didn't see the difference between the mass produced crap and the unique found items. They bought what has featured in the latest magazine. Often times this was crap that was promoted by the same people producing the knock-offs. It was a giant circle jerk.

Gresham's law: bad money drives out good, similarly bad but cheap antique knockoffs drive out the real stuff.
posted by MartinWisse at 6:39 AM on April 25, 2012


Yeah. No question it's damaging their brand. It's "Bad internet PR 101" -- It's what the Germans call a "shitstorm" these days.

But i wonder, maybe they're looking at the boingboing debacle and figuring they can just ride it out. Sure, they'll take a hit but if a bunch of techno-libertarian freedom humpers can forgive and forget why not etsy crafters? Or more importantly etsy craft consumers The majority of users will never know (so long as they keep deleting stuff) if they don't read regretsy or the consumerist or metafilter or whatever. As long as people buy it, why would they care?
posted by delmoi at 6:55 AM on April 25, 2012


mediareport, I hate to say it, but Etsy actually considers a store bought pendant (like the octopus or birds in those treasuries), hung on a store bought chain, to be a "handmade" item. As I said earlier, I think that's ridiculous. But it's a known thing. Folks who actually believe a $7 necklace was handmade by a metalsmith, well, what can you say? Jewelry on Etsy has been broken for a long time.

But promoting and protecting the so-called furniture designer in this post is in another category of shitty altogether. So much evidence and yet they refuse to remove the seller. I think Etsy believes this will blow over like every other time something similar has been pointed out or gotten a bit of press, as delmoi said.

I'm really hoping this time it's different. Maybe they take a big hit at the bank. Or someone suggests a story to This American Life, as mentioned above. Something.
posted by Glinn at 8:07 AM on April 25, 2012


Glinn, TAL pitch? Check. :)
posted by likeso at 11:24 AM on April 25, 2012


Hit post too soon. Crafty Moira has sent them a letter outlining the controversy.
posted by likeso at 11:31 AM on April 25, 2012


Yet Another Damn Update: Etsy attempts to define "the 'Who' of Handmade" and opens a forum thread for community comment. Community comment is largely "Uh, what?" Admin shows up on page 30 of thread to remind community that calling out members by name is a violation of Etsy's ToU.

On the plus side, the thread is still open.
posted by bakerina at 12:06 PM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


That should be interesting.
posted by Glinn at 12:44 PM on April 25, 2012


Oh, I totally called out Ecologica by name. I guess I probably shouldn't have. I'm just blown away by the lengths Etsy is going to to protect this shop. I think they're struggling mightily to make Etsy safe for huge importers, while appearing small-shop friendly on the surface. Memo to Etsy-- It is not working.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 12:45 PM on April 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


By Esty's definition of a collective, Apple could open an Etsy shop, put the names of some factory (or rather, collective) workers and the word "collective" on their profile, and be selling handmade iPads by sunset.
posted by Orb at 1:58 PM on April 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Regretsy has posted an extremely kick ass response to a supposed cease-and-desist letter sent to a commenter on an Etsy thread.

Here's a little background:

You may recall I posted the world’s most unintelligible Cease and Desist letter yesterday, as drafted by Howard Schechter of Ecologica Malibu/Bali Ha’i Imports.

The letter was not directed to me, but to a woman who started a thread in the Etsy Forums the other day. She posted a polite and reasonable post, asking Etsy to make a formal statement on the issue as soon as possible.

It is important to note that she did not level accusations at the Schechters, nor did she hurl invective at them. She did not call them, say, “liars” or “cheaters,” or “thieving lying cheating resellers,” for example. She did not use words like “sham” or “con” or even “douchenozzle.”

Even so, Mr. Schechter, or possibly Mrs. Schechter, or possibly one of their four carpenters, felt this constituted “liable” against the company, which has now been proven to be a reseller, or as Etsy calls them, “a collective.”

Enter Ken at Popehat.com. Ken, an attorney who occasionally offers pro-bono help to bloggers, thought this particular Cease and Desist merited a reply.

posted by KokuRyu at 6:41 PM on April 25, 2012 [1 favorite]




I've posted to the thread bakerina refers to with this comment:

Etsy, as I see it, you have two ways to go here.

1) Begin to enforce your own policies. Close the resellers down and remove any Featured seller spots involving resellers. And apologize to the community for not doing so earlier, as it has been dishonest of you to pay lip service to promoting handmade goods while allowing resellers to flourish here under false pretences.

2) Alternatively, admit you have become dependent on resellers to keep the site profitable (and that's understandable, not judging you for that), and announce that from now on you will be allowing resellers but their products will be strictly labelled as such. If you received payment from resllers for featured seller spots, come clean about that and promise us that from now on paid advertisements will be completely distinct from any editorial content. Promise us all that sellers will be able to trust the handmade categorization. And apologize to the community for not doing so earlier.

As you can see, both of the paths you can take involve you making some changes and apologizing to us all. There is no way around that. If you choose to hold the course you are on, then you'll have killed the Etsy brand. No one can possibly trust that goods on here that are supposedly handmade actually are, and no one will believe your supposed "clarifications" of site policy. You'll be eBay, only with higher prices and tiresome pretensions.

Accept the necessity for change and for making amends, and get on with it.
As things stand you have disrespected your own users, and unless you take definitive action, none of us will respect you.
posted by orange swan at 6:56 PM on April 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


And Christ almighty, that is an awesome response letter. "Intractably mentally ill", "bumptious legal threats", "feakishly unprofessional email" — this lawyer can write! I'd offer to have a baby with him but there will be a horde of Regretsians ahead of me in that particular line up.
posted by orange swan at 6:59 PM on April 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


"Freakishly unprofessional email", sigh. That lawyer can write, but I, alas, cannot even type.
posted by orange swan at 7:01 PM on April 25, 2012


It's the kind of letter you want to pull out and read if you're ever feeling downtrodden, oppressed, or simply under the weather.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:07 PM on April 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


Murum aries attigit, indeed.
posted by urbanwhaleshark at 8:31 PM on April 25, 2012


I'm going to start closing all my letters with "I urge you to reconsider your course of action" instead of "Best wishes."
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:39 PM on April 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


That is a sweet, sweet letter.
posted by Forktine at 9:15 PM on April 25, 2012


So true:
Hugo April 25, 2012 at 7:15 pm: No, it’s from that deeply held feeling that when pompous, wannabe lawyer-types who get so butthurt when they get caught in lies get so owned, so well, so professionally, the feeling is instantly sexual.

That whole letter is “Dear Sir: Fuck you. Case law, fuck you. Intractably mentally ill, fuck you. Bumptious, fuck you. Win, win, win. Fuck you.

Sincerely, Fuck You.

That’s what makes it perfect. Every single sentence read “you’re an idiot, fuck you”. And it’s a legal document!
posted by taz at 9:22 PM on April 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, what I learned today:

Old and busted: "I'll be in my bunk." The new hotness: "I'll be governing myself appropriately."
posted by taz at 9:31 PM on April 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


wow, that letter is scathingly good.

I've been wondering if Mariana wrote the C and D herself, and used her husband's letterhead. It sounded just like the comments she wrote on her blog.
posted by oneirodynia at 9:50 PM on April 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've been wondering if Mariana wrote the C and D herself, and used her husband's letterhead.

I suspect you are right. After all, it was a "collective" effort!
posted by ericb at 11:45 PM on April 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


That letter was kinda hot in a Mr. Darcy kind of way.
posted by like_neon at 2:34 AM on April 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


I think the C&D letter was made by hand from salvaged boat parts and abandoned structures in developing communities.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 6:22 AM on April 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


First I've seen of it, but this post is calling for all shops to go on vacation mode for 3 days starting May 4.
Anyone else have anything related?
posted by Glinn at 1:09 PM on April 26, 2012


Ken White is a national treasure, or would be if our nation valued snark appropriately.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:34 PM on April 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


I did make a mistake upthread that I had better correct. Not so that I won't get a C&D from Mariana Schechter (because I would LOVE to get one, Mariana! I'd post it here so we could all enjoy it together and it would probably get sidebarred), but just to be accurate.

I said that All From Boats is Mariana's import business. This is not true. All From Boats seems to be owned by a man called Kurt Eichorn. The Schechters actually own Bali Ha’i Imports, which is one of All From Boats' dealerships.
posted by orange swan at 6:54 PM on April 26, 2012


First I've seen of it, but this post is calling for all shops to go on vacation mode for 3 days starting May 4.
Anyone else have anything related?


Some of us Etsy sellers are going to deactivate our shops on May 1st, and we're asking people to avoid shopping on Etsy that day. This is the first I've heard of the May 4th date, but obviously the idea is knocking around out there. Hell, I can go both days! Apparently it's better to just deactivate all your listings because "vacation mode" takes you out of Google searches.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 9:21 PM on April 26, 2012


Holy crap, the discussion thread on Etsy is 142 pages long and still going strong — and there's still no response from Etsy.

It'll be interesting to see what comes of this. It seems to me that Etsy simply cannot sweep this under the rug as they've made too many of their users too angry, but maybe that is their plan.
posted by orange swan at 10:38 AM on April 27, 2012


Well, here's Chad's latest, including:

there are times when available public evidence suggests that a violation of our policy is clear, and our investigations find that it’s actually not the case.

Does he think anyone buys this? I don't know.

He also scolds community members for being meanies.
posted by Glinn at 11:37 AM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is "off to read" Etsy commenter's version of FIRST?

Etsy management seem quite good at writing posts which sound meaningful but actually say very little.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:33 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


commenters', damnit.
posted by We had a deal, Kyle at 12:34 PM on April 27, 2012


Goodness, that thread is already 39 pages long. It was growing almost as fast as I could read it.

Chad's letter is one very condescending piece of bullshit. We can't prove that Ecologica Malibu isn't breaking site rules without invading her privacy and you'll just have to trust us. We're going to be clarifying our policies over the next couple of months so you can all understand them better. And you all need to behave better.

If they really think this is going to pacify us, they are even stupider than they think we are.
posted by orange swan at 1:10 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


There's now a website called "Protesty" to help organize for the "putting shops on vacation on May 10th" idea.
posted by orange swan at 2:04 PM on April 27, 2012


So someone you people pay to provide a service is giving you tellings off for being bad boys and girls? Someone needs putting in their place.
posted by howfar at 4:12 PM on April 27, 2012


It certainly seems that Etsy doesn't hold its members in very high regard. I think that's even more depressing than allowing resellers they like to operate with impunity.
posted by oneirodynia at 8:50 AM on April 28, 2012 [1 favorite]


Great thread, very informative & fun. A+++ Would read again.

Particularly loved the response to the cease-and-desist letter (as a law talkin' guy by training) but the "I haz a thirsty" image was equally hilarious.
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:23 AM on April 29, 2012


The thread for responding to Chad's letter is now 150 pages long and is still going strong.

Protesty has over 3,000 shops signed up to go on vacation mode on May 10th.

Etsy, clean the cupcake icing out of your ears. THIS IS NOT GOING AWAY.
posted by orange swan at 9:31 AM on April 29, 2012


What's with that "highlighted post" thing in the etsy threads, where the mods' comments are yoinked out of context & placed upfront?!??

It's pointless & unreadable. How do I make it go away?
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:53 AM on April 29, 2012


I believe the mods' posts also show up in their chronological place in thread — they're just listed at the beginning as a convenience for those who don't want to read the whole honking thread. Just ignore it.
posted by orange swan at 9:57 AM on April 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


Just for funsies: here is a dining set from Ecologica Malibu's Etsy shop. And HERE is a tour of a warehouse in Ubud, Indonesia, featuring the same table, and a boatload (heh) of other furniture that looks very, very familiar. The best part is when he says, "You can hear the sounds of Bali all around us!" So, you know, probably not made in Malibu.
posted by Nibbly Fang at 12:06 PM on April 29, 2012 [1 favorite]


I thought this was a good comment from that thread:

This thread is like a discussion between a couple that is breaking up.

One person lays down the reality that she wants to breaks up
The other keeps wanting to talk about it and asks questions that might lead the conversation to a different conclusion...


I think the May 10th vacation needs to be a permanent vacation, at least until Etsy changes its approach to resellers.
posted by 6550 at 12:33 PM on April 29, 2012


Mariana Schecther posted to the Etsy forums asking for the best way to ask her customers to leave feedback. She got some, er, feedback.
posted by orange swan at 8:49 PM on May 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, and over 4500 shops went into vacation mode today. It's a lot but I don't know if it was enough to make Etsy realize how serious this is.
posted by orange swan at 8:52 PM on May 10, 2012






Mariana Schechter has just created a treasury on Etsy called "Another weekend at the beach house". Girlfriend does not seem to be getting it, but the comments are gold.
posted by orange swan at 6:48 PM on May 12, 2012


And the beach house treasury has been removed. Funny, I though they'd just nuke and/or close the comments.
posted by orange swan at 1:05 PM on May 13, 2012


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