Winnipeg

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handmade sellers

Social media and online selling is creating opportunities for many local artisans and handcrafters to connect with customers—and each other.

There are just over 43,000 Canadian sellers on Etsy, an online marketplace that allows handcrafters to have their own web-based storefront.

“It’s been amazing for us small little makers. I think [Etsy] really opened up the playing field,” said Sarah MacLachlan, owner of clothing company Sarah Sue Design. “You don’t have to start with as big of a budget.”

MacLachlan says social media gives her a way to find and communicate with customers on a daily basis.

Louise May of Aurora Farm uses social media to draw attention to her handmade, sustainable body care products and crafting workshops. Instagram posts of her photogenic animals draw the most likes. She’s built a following of almost 2,300 people.
To May, it’s a means to spread her messages of environmentally-friendly products, and preserving traditional processes.

“Even if people don’t come out for a workshop, they’re thinking about it,” said May.

Artist Katie Bartley says social media also brings artisans together.

“I think that’s important to the success of a business as well,” said Bartley.

At North Forge Fabrication Lab, artisans and inventors can use nearly $3 million in equipment like industrial routers and 3D printers. But Robert Elms says the tools aren’t their most valuable commodity.

“We’ve got not just the equipment but people who also can fill whatever blanks are missing,” said Elms, who does community relations for North Forge. “This is a collaborative environment. This is a community of innovative people coming together to do their own thing, but in the process helping each other out.”

Videos

Aurora Farm uses social media to build a community around their handmade body care products. North Forge Fabrication Lab provides the tools and collaboration for artisans and inventors to get their start.
Nathan Dueck from Oldhat and Katie Bartley of Kate B Art talk about how they started their handcrafting businesses, and how social media contributes to their craft.
Reporter Anders Giesbrecht talks about how Etsy has change the handcraft market.
When Weldon Neufeld started Treevival, his son got him started on Instagram. He has over 800 followers now, and his reclaimed wood products get dozens of likes.
Clothing designer Sarah MacLachlan calls Etsy a "game-changer," but doesn't trust the social media bubble to not pop.
Louise May of Aurora Farm shows a class of women how to make soap with goats' milk.