Since its launch back in 2005, Etsy has grown into a huge ecommerce market for handmade and vintage goods. Browsing through Etsy, you can see products from a huge variety of sellers.
If you’re just getting started or thinking about joining Etsy, it can be inspiring to look through the shops of those who are finding success on the platform. Below are many successful African American entrepreneurs who are finding success selling their handmade products on Etsy.
Successful African American Entrepreneurs on Etsy
Camille Peace, Peace Images
Peace is the proprietor of Peace Images, a shop that sells handmade jewelry items (pictured above). Peace is one of many successful African American entrepreneurs on Etsy. Her business journey started how many others have started – as a hobby. She then grew it into a full-time business.
Peace told Small Business Trends, “About 9 years ago, while working in the Social Work sector, I began making myself earrings. At the time It was very hard to find things that I felt culturally represented me (ie Africas, Ankhs, etc). So I made a few pairs for myself, posted them to facebook and was encouraged by both friends and my husband to list them on etsy. My first pair sold within 48 hours and my husband gave me the best advice ever, “keep going.” So I did. I never stopped. I am now self-employed and have been for about 6 years.”
Akua Washington, Waists By Wednesday
Waists By Wednesday is a shop that sells waist beads, a tradition in West Africa. Washington sees them as an important part of her family’s heritage. And with thousands of sales on Etsy, it’s clear that many value the beads as much as she does.
Washington says, “WbW sells primarily West African Traditional Waist Beads. I was introduced to them by my step-mother during my early teenage years and have never been without beads around my waist since then. My dad is from Ghana and as I’ve gotten older I’ve grown more intrigued by that side of my heritage. I always had friends asking me where to get waist beads from and I just realized there was a void in the marketplace for real, traditional African Waist Beads. So one day I just decided to see how well a few of them would sell. Long story short…Waists by Wednesday was born.”
Strickland was already an illustrator before getting involved with Etsy. When she would show off her work (pictured above), people would ask where they could buy prints. So she looked into Etsy and found that it provided an easy way for people to buy prints of her artwork.
She says, “The shop itself has always been a very organic thing. Due to my publishing and teaching schedules, I don’t have the luxury of planning new lines, but the personal work that I do include stems from continuous ideas about my childhood and memories. I would love to have more time to really craft a specific line or series that had a continuous look, but my life just doesn’t allow for that right now.”
Chantel Weaver, PaintingsThatPop
Weaver’s shop, PaintingsThatPop, includes a variety of different products featuring her artwork, including coasters, jewelry and even coloring books.
Weaver, another one of the many successful African American entrepreneurs on Etsy, offered the following advice for others looking to get into selling handmade items, “Remember your community. This is a time more than ever where we need to be uplifting each other breaking free from the stereotypes, and creating positive representations. Do not give up if you do not see the fruit of your labors right away. You will probably spend more money than you earn within your first year. It will be a hard and trying period and people will try to sway you in lot of different directions, stick to your goals.”
Brenda Walker, Teeny’s Sweet Soaps
Teeny’s Sweet Soaps is home to handmade soaps, bath bars and a variety of other bath and beauty products. Walker said she is grateful for the opportunities that Etsy has provided for her to reach customers around the country.
She says, “My advice to African American entrepreneurs who are interested in selling on Etsy is to jump in! My products have been purchased by people all over the country, and I am so grateful for the feedback and reviews from everyone.”
Keyshondra Pringle, SoJourn Naturals
SoJourn Naturals (pictured above) began because Pringle saw a lack of products in the market that gave women with natural hair options for chemical-free, non-harmful hair products.
She explains, “My business started with the idea with women of color not putting harmful chemicals in their hair to change the natural state of it while in the process damaging and destroying the beautiful hair that they’re born with. I want them to be able to take care of their hair naturally with products that are meant for them and for them to embrace their beautiful curls.”
Dee Dee, Dimensional Vision
Dimensional Vision is a shop full of unique accessories. Owner Dee Dee got started selling her handmade items at local craft fairs and events. And one day happened upon Etsy by coincidience.
She explains, “I came across Etsy while surfing on the web on Craigslist actually. Someone had posted a craft event and shared that they also sold their items on Etsy. So I Googled Etsy’s website. Then did some research about Etsy. And they looked legit, and their site looked clean and bright and very eye-catching. Etsy had a lot of awesome reviews from customers and Etsy sellers. So I decided to sign up with Etsy and give them a try.”
Dana Osborne-Biggs, Urban Heirlooms
Urban Heirlooms is a shop featuring artisan leather bags and other accessories. Osborne-Biggs said that the decisions of choosing Etsy for her business was a fairly easy one.
She says, “Low overhead and the ease of starting were the biggest attractions. All I needed was a decent camera, a handmade product, and a little bit of enthusiasm and I could open up shop. At the time it was truly a niche marketplace with a community that was eager to help a newbie. Etsy was a grassroots marketplace where the one-on-one maker/buyer relationship was honored and encouraged. It was like an artist’s Utopia!”
Nandi Tahir, Three Little Birds Tees
Three Little Birds Tees is a shop full of t-shirts (pictured above) and other clothing items featuring quotes, sayings and artwork. Tahir started her business as a brick and mortar store. But when she switched over to a home based business, she discovered Etsy as an outlet.
She explains, “I had a brick & mortar store here in Philadelphia for 20 years. After closing when my husband passed away in 2012, I wanted to continue as an entrepreneur but I wanted more of a home based business. I created my line of t-shirts and discovered Etsy as an outlet to sell them.”
MiMi Dabo, Boutique Mix
Boutique Mix is a shop full of African clothing, jewelry and other fashion accessories. Dabo opened the shop back in 2008 and has been most impressed with Etsy’s resources and wide reach.
She explains, “I chose Etsy because it is a global platform. It provides a small business like mine access to consumers all over the world with just one click. It also has excellent resources for learning how to run a business, and tools for growth.”
Jocelyn Hamilton, LunarEclectic
LunarEclectic is a shop that features handmade jewelry. Hamilton says that her favorite part of selling on Etsy is the large community of other makers available on the site.
She explains, “I chose Etsy to sell my handmade jewelry because I was a buyer here, long before I ever thought of having my own shop. After doing my research, I liked the fact that Etsy helps you to sell (if you are willing to learn and apply the information given). The community here is great, everyone is so helpful! I also liked that most buyers are familiar and comfortable with Etsy as well.”
Cynthia, Prayer Notes by Cynthia
Prayer Notes by Cynthia is a popular Etsy shop that sells Christian artwork, coasters (pictured above), bookmarks and more.
Owner Cynthia says, “I’ve used a few other venues for my crafts, but Etsy has proven to be the most efficient and easy-to-use platform. My customers trust Etsy and come back to visit my shop, over and over, again. I’ve made wonderful cyber-friends through Etsy and I am grateful.”
Vallen Cordon, Fab Creations Ear Candy
Fab Creations Ear Candy is Cordon’s shop full of unique earrings. Though still a relatively new shop, Cordon has made consistent sales since joining Etsy.
She offered the following advice for other Etsy sellers, “Etsy is a wonderful selling platform, however with an estimated 1.6 million sellers, it is very easy to be another seller lost in the sauce, waiting for sellers to miraculously find you. Take the time to learn SEO and how to properly use keywords in your listings to get your shop found in searches and take the time to learn what it takes to get your shop on the first page of search results in Etsy. Do this before or immediately when opening your shop (don’t delay like I did). Learn what it takes to begin getting sales sooner than later.”
Tisha Howell, Skinfolk
Howell’s job was downsized in recession of 2008, which is why she decided to join Etsy. Her shop, Skinfolk, sells handmade skincare and similar beauty products.
She says, “Etsy was recommended by a co-worker as we were packing up our personal items to leave corporate America for good. It was an eclectic, worldwide artisan playground at the start when I initially signed up in 2008. I met many fellow artists and customers, that would became cheerleaders, supporters and friends throughout the years. It was a warm welcome to independent selling.”
Angela Holbert, Getawaygirl Jewelry
Getawaygirl is a jewelry shop full of handcrafted items (pictured above). Holbert’s Etsy journey also began as a hobby.
She explains, “I enjoyed making jewelry and I began to make it in enough quantities that pretty soon my dresser was covered with pieces. New techniques were always of interest, leading to increasingly interesting, marketable pieces. Seeing this beautiful mess one day, a friend suggested (not for the first time) that I should finally start selling my pieces!”
More in: Women Entrepreneurs