Hello Etsy! + CCA Partnership: Small Business, Local Economies & Sustainability
Posted on Tuesday, October 11, 2011 by Clay Walsh
On September 18, 2011, close to 200 people convened at CCA’s San Francisco campus to say “Hello!” to Etsy, the online marketplace where independent artists, craftspersons, and vintage sellers from around the world sell their wares directly to their customers. Visitors and locals came to CCA as part of a unique satellite conference that not only featured live streaming from the two-day Hello Etsy summit in Berlin (September 17¬-18), but also afforded the CCA campus with a full day of workshops, lectures, panel discussions with key speakers, and hands-on making sessions.
This first-ever conference by Etsy joined business owners and leaders in the locally made / entrepreneur community alongside artists who have invented their own products and markets to discuss innovations and challenges to succeeding in the independent and handmade movements. CCA’s fine arts and Communications administration was thrilled to partner in the programming and support of this event. Attendees ranged from crafters, CCA fine arts students, local business owners, bloggers, faculty, and dozens of CCA alumni.
The Hello Etsy event kicked off a new partnership between the college and Etsy, called I Heart Art: San Francisco. Said Etsy Director of Community and Education Vanessa Bertozzi: “Over the past few years we were seeing so much activity and energy coming out of our community in the Bay Area. After visiting CCA for the Craft Forward Symposium, it was clear to me that we wanted to partner with this school -- filled with talented faculty and students, filled with history, and new ideas.”
Bertozzi and CCA Provost Mark Breitenberg each delivered inspiring opening remarks that welcomed attendees. Breitenberg addressed recent shifts in the craft and design community: “We’ve seen in recent years widespread attention to the beauty and value of the unique object in our age of mass production to the growing importance and accessibility to regional, local craft, and design. There is a desire for tactility at a time when our lives are mediated by the digital screen; a need to find greater meaning in the objects we make, use, and admire. Our world is not so easily separated into binary transitions. Our students born in the digital age move easily between analog and digital media.”
AT THE HEART OF HELLO ETSY
Participants discussed the current state of small business manufacturing and detailed how new ideas and creativity are especially vital in the current marketplace and could actually energize California’s sluggish economy.
Arieff also shared a personal story that highlighted how being a woman in the manufacturing industry remains a relatively new concept.
Kate Sofis from (SFMade) held up local and easily recognizable products such as a Rickshaw bag and coffee bean packaging from Ritual and asked the audience to reflect upon its effective branding.
Patrick Buckley discussed his (DODOcase) product, an iPad cover that was created by using traditional bookbinding techniques.
CCA alum Miguel Nelson (MFA Fine Arts) and founder of Woolly Pocket, discussed his transition from art student to manufacturer, entertaining the crowd with his experiences as a student at CCA, affectionately referring to the college as an “art spa.”
The all-day conference also offered a mix of craft-making stations, lunch by La Cocina, and multiple lectures and workshops led by CCA faculty, alumni, and members of the local Bay Area crafts community.
Other Highlights & Top-Attended Workshops
Kelly Lynn Jones (MFA 2010) and Little Paper Planes founder lectured about her desire and efforts to expand her work beyond the traditional gallery space to expose the work of her friends and community.
Regina Connell’s “Creative Branding” workshop was a standing-room-only event.
The “Etsy Shop Tune Up” workshop, led by Steph Cortes, a local Etsy seller and leader of I Heart Art, was also a participant favorite.
“Startup Stories,” the final event of the day, featured a panel discussion moderated by local retail strategist for creative businesses Rena Tom and included the following guest speakers:
The participants spoke eloquently about how making connections in their community and pursuing one’s passions affected the genesis, growth, and success of their businesses.
“Startup Stories” hit the right note and was definitely a great wrap-up for the still-energized crowd.
BEYOND THE WALLS OF CCA
Etsy’s conference organizers had designated other satellite events across the United States that included the Smithsonian American Museum in Washington DC, Good Magazine in Los Angeles, Etsy Labs in New York, and Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon. Each location contributed content via live streaming through the Etsy Online Labs site, culminating in almost 40,000 unique page views and 98,550 streams throughout the weekend. (Videos are archived and accessible.)
Thousands participated in the online conversation on Twitter via the hashtag "#helloetsy" (the San Francisco Bay Area ranked as third top region in tweet distribution!).
Associate Director of Fine Arts Mark Takiguchi added, “With the resurgence of interest in craft coupled with CCA’s history of innovation and DIY energy, this is the perfect moment for this exciting partnership. It’s clear that our values are aligned, and we share a commitment to creating sustainable models of creative production.”
All California College of the Arts alumni, students, faculty, and staff are welcome to join the CCA Team on Etsy.
CCA students and alumni interested in participating in the I Heart Art: San Francisco partnership can email Fine-Arts-Undergrad@cca.edu.
Mark your calendar for these upcoming CCA + Etsy collaborations:
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