Etsy group brings crafters together for fun, ideas and profit

Staysi Lee stands before 30 or so of her fellow crafters and offers a wise piece of advice for making online sales through Etsy.

"If you’re selling a tote bag, don’t tag it as a clutch. That will just annoy people," Lee tells the 30 or so women, and one man, who have come to a car dealership in Henderson to learn from each other how to market their wares.

In the world of online craft sales, annoying a potential customer is never a good idea. Tagging your items with the right keywords is, however. Lee passes out a list of potential tags for sellers to use when listing their goods on the Etsy website, words such as puffy, eccentric, periwinkle, grotesque, plump, gingham, and, the most important tag of all, Madeinvegas Team.

That’s what this meeting is all about, bringing local artists and crafters together to offer support to each other, share their knowledge and create a network that helps them make more money. Sarah Flake, group founder, called it Etsy Does Vegas.

In two months, the group has grown to 200 members. There are no dues to pay, no experience necessary. The only criteria for membership is to have a store on Etsy or make crafts in Las Vegas.

"I was really lost and thought I needed to get some people together," says Flake, who moved to town last year with her husband and their two children. "I have never created a group before. When I first started this one, I had no idea what it would become. Suddenly, I had this huge group."

At the first monthly meeting, 50 people attended. This meeting, on a recent Thursday, was the second and drew about 30, even though it was arranged only the day before.

The group plans to meet again at 7 p.m. July 13, at the Arts Factory, 107 E. Charleston Blvd. It’s open to the public.

Flake started making stuffed animals for her children a few years ago. Others liked them so much, she posted them for sale online.

Etsy is an online commerce site where users can have "stores," basically a web page where they list their items for sale. It started in 2005 and does more than $10 million in sales each month. The site works much like eBay, taking a percentage of a member’s sales and charging for listings.

It has become something of a popular culture touchstone, even spawning a spoof site called Regretsy.

It’s hard to work alone at home with no outside input on whether you’re maximizing your potential, several crafters say. That’s why the support group, as they’re calling it, is useful.

"To me, it’s nice to have people to network with," says Rochelle Williamson, an Etsy seller and veteran of local craft fairs, where she sells her custom frames. "There’s always someone who knows something that you don’t know. My friends who don’t craft, they just don’t understand."

Williamson is among the lucky ones who are able to earn an income from their crafts. Tina Haasch would like to get to that point, someday.

Owner of Fuzzy Dice Creations, Haasch handmakes purses, scarves and other goods. She has crafted her whole life, she says, but has been selling on Etsy for only two years.

"When I got the e-mail about the group, I was so excited," Haasch says. "I plan to meet new people, share ideas and hopefully be more creative because of it."

Contact reporter Sonya Padgett at spadgett@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4564.

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