Kate Kehoe has lots of energy, creative and otherwise. You get a sense of that if you visit her booth at the Sunday Artisan Market, where she sells notebooks made out of vintage album covers and video boxes, LPs formed into bowls, a variety of cards and pins – all made by her, by hand.
It’s the Etsy way.
She’s also funneling a good bit of energy into organizing the Oct. 5 Etsy show, where about 30 vendors – mostly from the Ann Arbor area – will be selling their wares in this second annual event, held in the Ann Arbor Farmers Market area in Kerrytown.
If you’re asking, “What the heck is Etsy?” well, you’re forgiven for not having hipster cred. Read on.
Etsy is an online market for all things handmade. Launched three years ago and growing in popularity, it’s a way for crafty DIY types to market and sell their products online without investing in their own website. A lot of items are made from vintage or repurposed materials – like the record-cover notebooks that Kehoe sells.
Just as important, though, is the social aspect of the site – forums where users can share tips, get advice, find supplies or grouse, all with like-minded compatriots.
“It’s really a very strong community,” Kehoe says.
You can search by category or geographic area, and there’s an eclectic range of items with an Ann Arbor connection. Here are some of the things you’ll find online:
- KaRe Package Baby Clothing, with images of eggplants, carrots, pumpkins, hearts and more on baby Ts and onesies made from organic cotton.
- Porcelain dog and cat pins, sold by “Popogirl.”
- Prints of an original painting by John Tebeau, of a bottle and mug of Arbor Brewing Co.’s Brasserie Blonde beer. (Tebeau did the label designs for the bottles.)
- Hand-dyed boiled wool hats by Scottys Ellys Fleece.
- Clothing, jewelry and other items from a collective of artists called SAAMAA.
- Pins of Ypsilanti-related objects and images – like manhole covers and cemetery etchings – sold by Maproom Systems.
Some people who use Etsy, like Kehoe, are regulars at the Sunday Artisan Market, too. But for many who’ll be selling next Sunday at the Etsy aisle – they’ll be set up along the covered section nearest to Kerrytown Market & Shops – it’s their first show. There’ll be photography, leather handbags, fiber art, jewelry, clothing and more.
Kehoe first got permission for the show from the Public Market Advisory Commission, then used the Etsy network to get the word out about the event. Exhibitors are paying $25 each for their space, she says, which covers market fees plus promotional costs.
In some ways, it might actually be an easier introduction to Etsy to check out their Oct. 5 show in person, rather than tackling the website. Rob Walker, writing in the December 2007 New York Times Magazine, described the Etsy experience this way:
“Browsing Etsy is both exhilarating and exhausting. There is enough here to mount an astonishing museum exhibition. There is also plenty of junk. Most of all there is a dizzying amount of stuff, and it is similarly difficult to figure out how to characterize what it all represents: an art movement, a craft phenomenon or shopping trend. Whatever this is, it’s not something that Etsy created but rather something that it is trying to make bigger, more visible and more accessible – partly by mixing high-minded ideas about consumer responsibility with the unsentimental notion of the profit motive.”
Bottom line for many Etsy-ites? They’re having a blast following their inner artist – and if they make some money at it, so much the better.
And as for the name, well, its meaning remains a mystery. “They won’t tell us,” Kehoe says.
Etsy @ The Market: Sunday, Oct. 5 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. during the Artisan Market, 315 Detroit St., next to Kerrytown Market & Shops.