Behind the Blog: Etsy

Behind the Blog: Etsy

Gregory Han
Apr 29, 2009

When we think of online marketplace for arts and crafts gift products, there's only really one name that comes to mind: Etsy. For many, visiting the site regularly borders on a near obsession, such is the scope, range and quality in selection of handmade items that range from home crafting in quality to designers whose creations seem plucked from the shelves of high end decor boutiques. It's that wide selection of items and styles that makes Etsy an online window shopper's paradise. Today, we take a look behind Etsy's blog, The Storque, and over to their Brooklyn Bermuda Triangle offices, revealing a workspace with a remarkably fun resemblance to the site's eclectic mix of people and craft...



Tell us about Etsy's focus, goals, aesthetic.
Etsy is the world's most vibrant handmade marketplace! The Storque, Etsy's blog, aims to share the stories and inspiration of that marketplace where sellers from around the world offer one-of-a-kind art and handmade crafts, clothing, furniture (you name it), as well as endless vintage treasures. We also have a supply marketplace to aid in making your own DIY masterpieces. It's a black hole of amazing finds.

How would you describe the Etsy's studio/office (sq ft, architectural features, style)?
The Etsy office is located in the Brooklyn Bermuda Triangle (between DUMBO, Downtown Brooklyn and Fort Greene). You can try to come visit us, but you will probably get lost. We have the former executive offices of an old printing company, a very grand place as you can see from the carved wood paneled walls in the pictures. As we've inhabited the space, the handmade aesthetic has definitely rubbed off. For instance, our lawyer Sarah Feingold (who is also a jeweler and very petite) sits in an office we made especially for her, complete with a mini door that tall people have to duck under.

As we've hired more people, we've moved around the space — literally building walls and smashing them down and then building them again. The mural by Matty8080 is literally a chunk of a wall we tore down. At one point there was a handmade skateboard ramp, but there's no room for that now, which probably means we're not a start up anymore. At this point the Etsy Labs part of our office is three floors below — this is a workshop crafting space with a jeweler's bench, sewing machines, screenprinting press and lots of supplies. Every Monday evening, Etsy hosts Craft Night where anyone is welcome to come and make things. If you're not in Brooklyn, you can join in via the Virtual Labs, our online multi-user webcam enabled chat room of the future made for us by Flash guru Jared Tarbell. We're particularly proud that we have this magical space that extends our office around the world via the interwebs!

In terms of layout and organization of your work space, what are specific details that you're particularly proud of?
The diorama where our receptionist, Jakob von Eichel, sits is pretty amazing. Right now it has a mosaic of tulip illustrations and some flying duck decoys by colleague, Claire Beaudreault. Before it was an indoor/outdoor scene made entirely out of fabric with an excellent life-size crocheted bicycle, made by more Etsy staff creatives, Anda Corrie and Christine Domanic. (It may not be decor-related, exactly, but a lovely feature of the space is Dottie , beloved Dachshund of engineer Dan McKinley. Whenever we hear the jingle-jingle and tick-tick-tick-tick approaching, we know we're in for a treat as she escapes into our part of the office.) We don't think that the new hires even know about the secret door to the roof yet, so now that winter is over we may introduce them to that and sneak up there a bit more at lunchtime.

What's on your desk(s) at this moment?
Vanessa: Ceramic sculpture by melabo, a Ukrainian mace (used to threaten coworkers when their drafts for the blog are late), "Losers Always Lose Mug" by Mickey Duzyj.

Tara: wolf clock, mushroom and owl needlecraft, a hand-silkscreened Etsy poster by Matt Stinchcomb and a drawing by Caleb Reed. Other than that, lots of computer equipment and media storage for editing all that HD media that we shoot.

Alison: Plastic deer family, actual deer skull complete with resplendent antlers, Garth Algar portrait by TheMayOfTeckClub, bell jar with amputated hand model, "Bless this mess" sign by my mother.

Eric: Birds on a Wire painting by EarthArt , Tiger Power fan from my sister, WoodMosaics Oak-Walnut trivet, silk-screened 40oz. brown paper bag from DRE DAY NYC, and a Butt Freckle.

Any tips or advice about office décor, layout or organization?
If your office space is in flux, like ours often is, don't get too attached to your personal space! Instead, think about portable elements to personalize wherever you may be. (We're big on tchotchkes and small art.) In fact, we're very happy you asked us to do this Behind the Blog, since Etsy will be moving offices soon and it gave us a chance to document this happy time and place! We love our space and are glad to be able to share it. One décor idea we'd like to get some advice on: We often close the door to our room to  keep down distracting noise from the kitchen area outside. But then we feel closed off! So we are thinking about commissioning a custom sign for the door to our room, something welcoming that lets visitors and coworkers know who we are and that they can barge in: any ideas, readers? Let us know!

Any good resources you'd like to share?, duh! Brooklyn Flea is a fun place to look for vintage furniture and decor. And don't be afraid to dumpster dive. A great space isn't built in a day, so be patient and wait for the right treasures to come to you. If they haven't shown up yet, check out Etsy, where they might be waiting for you.

Photos by Elizabeth Weinberg.

A special thanks to Vanessa, Tara, Alison, and Eric of Etsy's blog, The Storque, for giving us this last peek before they move to their new office. We can't wait to see what their new space offers! And be sure to check out some of our collaborative projects with Etsy from the past.

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