Companies We Admire. A New Next-Mark Blog Series. Part Three: Etsy

The Next-Mark leadership team often shares stories of brands and companies that have influenced our perception of the marketing industry and shaped the way we do business. Our focus tends to center around the start-ups that beat to different drums, color outside the lines and embrace the unconventional.

We think you’ll like reading about one of our favorite companies that makes us say, “AHA!”

A minimalist stainless steel toilet paper holder from Portland, Oreg. Combat boots from Italy. A cushion appliqued with a shaggy cow from the UK. These are just some of things you can find on Etsy, the online marketplace that connects small-scale artisans and artists with millions of buyers from around the world.

In the past several years, Etsy has become my go-to place for artwork, jewelry and Christmas presents for my design-loving sister-in-law. Actually, my sister-in-law and I exchanged gifts from Etsy this year.

Apparently, we’re not alone. Last year, Etsy sellers, known as Etsians, sold nearly $1 billion in handmade items, according to a recent Economist article. While Etsy only receives about 20 cents per item posted and 3.5% of every sale, the company is said to be worth $1 billion, and there are rumors that it will go public in 2014.

Etsy may be tapping into a movement away from big box stores and feeding people’s desire to make a personal connection with the producers of the things they buy (I usually get a handwritten note in my Etsy packages).

Through training, online and offline meetings, and their Seller Handbook blog, they also do a very good job of helping part-time crafters and hobbyists become business people and marketers. For examples, see the “Building Your Brand” video below, or check out their other YouTube videos on branding product packaging  and photography using models.

Now, off to buy that toilet paper roll.