Over the summer, articles popped up around the web about Amazon throwing its hat into the handmade ring. In the span of a few weeks, the chatter evolved from well informed speculation to this confirming Amazon invitation to artisans. The articles were mainly from sources outside the handmade world, from Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Fortune, and such (and of course the bloggers who follow them), and so talk was centered mainly on business interests. Most writers were interested in what impact this will have on Etsy, the handmade pioneer that went public earlier this year. You can Google “amazon etsy handmade” if you want to eavesdrop on these discussions.
But my interest is centered on what this means within the handmade community of makers and, of course, my key audience, the people who buy their products. And what I see is Amazon’s recognition of the handmade/crafting movement as a valid and growing business segment. Public interest in handmade products has been quietly gaining momentum for the past few years, as I’ve observed firsthand. It was seven years ago, in the summer of 2008, that I started this blog to promote artisan wares as alternatives to mass produced products. Etsy was about three years old at the time, and new shops were opening right and left. A few months later, in 2009, I launched Handmade Lookup to make it easy for folks to search and find artisan websites that offer high-quality handmade goods. That same year, Time Magazine included Etsy in its 50 Best Websites 2009. This was a clear indication to me that the handmade/crafting movement had gone mainstream. And by early 2011, I had launched Handmade Shopping Portal to help shoppers find the products they want, without having to browse through multiple websites. Because, by that time, there were a lot of websites to browse.
So Amazon is just responding to a fact of life in 2015 that it sees in its world of products bought and sold. After all, handmade products are not new to Amazon. Artists have been selling through Amazon shops for years. In fact, some of the artists in Handmade Lookup have Amazon shops (and this page makes them easy to find). What is new is that a tipping point has been reached. Amazon sees in its marketplace a clear business case to be made for setting aside Amazon.com real-estate specifically for “artisans to sell their unique, handcrafted goods to our hundreds of millions of customers worldwide” and to “highlight . . . handmade products”. So artists/artisans will have designed-for-makers shops in the Amazon ecosystem, and Amazon customers will have a single point of reference for shops selling handmade products. This is a good thing, both for the makers and for the people who buy the things they make.
As for my my part, I’ll just keep doing what I do: Finding and posting at Heartful Village the best handmade products on the web, whether they’re in Etsy shops, Amazon shops, other Heartful merchants sites, or independent artist websites. Handmade Lookup will continue to expand with new artists and websites. And Handmade Shopping Portal will continue to grow daily with new products.
In other words, Heartful Village will continue to be the best place on the web to find and buy good handmade alternatives to common mass-produced products.