Just in time for Christmas party season...
Fashion is all about niche finds right now – but who the hell has time to track them down? Etsy is a fashion insider favourite for unusual hand-made pieces, so we’ve hunted out the coolest designers for you. Whether you’re after a personalised ‘forever’ bag or some crow-claw earrings – here are the best shops on Etsy and designers you need to know,
From Gucci‘s DIY collection to the trend for mismatched and curated watches and jewellery, fashion is all about niche finds and personalised pieces right now. And frankly, who wants to be in a real life ‘Who Wore It Better?’ competition in the same Zara outfit as the rest of the room? But when it comes to finding under-the-radar pieces, things can get tricky. You might be a) a stylist and it’s actually your job or b) you might have untold hours to spend rummaging through unlikely shopping locations to unearth that one pair of authentic beaded Japanese slippers, the likes of which have never been seen by anyone ever before. But if neither of the above apply, the shopping struggle can be real. Which is why fashion insiders love hunting for the best shops on Etsy.
The site might already be your bookmark for all things hand-made (the criteria every seller on the site has to fulfil) – but probably when you’re on a desperate quest for something specific for your house or your wedding. Hand-beaded invites, anyone? However, amongst the custom cushion covers and personalised confetti, there are some incredible fashion ‘makers’ to be found. And we’re not the only ones to think it – the Marc Jacobs team found the creator of the controversial pastel dreadlock wigs used in his SS17 show on the site, and we’ve heard many a stylist tell us about their trawling missions for unusual pieces – hello, oversized African-fabric hoops!
But the sheer enormity of the choice is enough to make you scream and run for the nearest high street. So we’ve done all the hard work for you – just in time to have something whipped up to your exacting requirements, pre-Christmas-party rush. Here’s our edit of the best shops on Etsy for accessories right now, the stories behind the designers who make them – and our favourite ‘OMG, where is that from?’ pieces to buy…
LeeRenee Jewellery on Etsy
USP: Cool retro motifs – hello pineapples – and delicate nature-inspired designs made to a very high level of quality. Prices £40-340
The designer: Lee Renee, an ex advertising executive who began her second career with an apprenticeship at a Hatton Garden jeweller. ‘Renee is my middle name, and means ‘rebirth’, so I thought it was the perfect fit for my new adventure!’ she says.
We want: The engraved pineapple pendant, £69, and the gold and diamond signet ring, £340
MargotandMila on Etsy
USP: A modern take on Victorian and Georgian jewellery – handcarved claws, charms, trinkets and symbols galore that give the wearer a feeling of ‘playful nostalgia.’
The designer: Lucinda, who left a career as a financial analyst in search of something more creative. After working as a PA for a jewellery designer, she decided to follow suit and went to jewellery college to learn traditional silversmithing and wax carving techniques. ‘I love antique jewellery and the attention to detail in the intricate pieces from those eras. I create a modern version of this art form, while keeping a vintage feel to each design,’ she says. She also has a booming business in bespoke commissions and engagement rings.
We want: the ‘Lapis Crow Claw’ earrings, £145, and the gold elephant earrings, £79
Bags on Etsy
CARVLondon bags on Etsy
USP: handcrafted leather bags with a minimalist, architectural look. If you lust after Celine, love the designs of Manu Atelier, and are after a ‘forever bag’ that will look better as the years go by, these are for you. Prices £35-395
The designer: Becky (a former town planner who decided to focus on her creative side in 2016 and hasn’t looked back). ‘I really believe in ‘slow fashion’ and how important it is to sustain local and traditional manufacturing in the modern fashion world,’ she says. She only uses chemical-free leather, tanned using vegetable dyes, which means they age beautifully. Each bag is made from start to finish at her studio in Hackney Wick.
We want: the tan ‘Pioneer Mini’ bag, £195
PaperCuttsDesigns on Etsy
USP: Embroidery galore – on everything from denim to leather. Prices £11-160
The designer: Gemma, who studied embroidery at Manchester Uni before getting investment from a friend to buy a serious professional embroidery machine that allows her to turn her sketches and prints into stitch. ‘My products inspire touch, the most magical thing about embroidery,’ she says. ‘I draw, print, sew and embroider from my studio in South London with Radio 4 and my Jack Russell Nora for company (she manages to destroy at least one pair of earphones a month!)’
We want: the ‘Brutus’ leather make up bag, £55
Delacyonline on Etsy
USP: Sculptural bags that are like buying a piece of art, often designed as one-offs
The designer: Former sculpture student Edward de Lacy, who did a Fine Art degree before turning his attention to the world of accessories. ‘Only very small runs of each piece are created and many of my bags are one of a kind designs that will never be repeated in the same way,’ he says. ‘Creating individual pieces is a key aspect to the way I work.’ He cuts and sews each bag, wallet and accessory from his Manchester studio.
We want: the tan ‘Lilly’ bag, £147.01 and the black and yellow leather scrunch bag, £178.13
UndercoverUK on Esty
USP: Chic leather accessories and wallets for all your bits and bobs, in eye-popping colours. If you love Anya Hindmarch and like a wallet or a holder for everything, you’ll love these.
The designer: Sally, who trained as a calligrapher and worked in bookbinding, before moving into making leather goods, often made with recycled leather. ‘The skills used in making leather goods are fast disappearing in this country, which spurred me on to buy old machinery and continue making in the same handmade way,’ she says. ‘I secret myself away in our Norfolk workshop like a kid in a sweetshop and make what I love – and hope other people do too!’
We want: the ‘Cables and Wires’ pouch, £35
ToriLoDesigns on Etsy
USP: Leather bags with an unusual twist – created using hand painting and dying techniques.
The designer: Vicky, who’s based in Newcastle. She worked in the accessories industry for five years before setting up on her own. ‘I love individuality, which is why I developed my range of printed leather goods. The dying techniques I use make it impossible to create two pieces that are the same.’
We want: the cobalt tie-dyed leather clutch, £59.50
Accessories on Etsy
MineDogan on Etsy
USP: Silk scarves with cute illustrated prints
The designer: Mine, from London. ‘I studied architecture and have always loved illustrating,’ she says. ‘I wear scarves on a daily basis and love colourful, fun ones. So I started off designing them for myself, before turning it into a business!’ Her designs use rich colours, imagination aplenty and high-quality silk.
We want: the ‘Mermaid’ and the ‘Little Red Riding Hood’, both £38.81
KLESDesign on Etsy
USP: leather accessories with a chic, French twist
The designer: Jessica, a French designer now based in London. She studied fashion design and pattern-making before becoming obsessed with leather and teaching herself leatherwork skills. ‘I don’t think you should have to choose between style and handmade’, she says. ‘I like simple shapes, but with a touch of French elegance.’
We want: the ‘Close Your Eyes’ pouch bag, £29.75 and the personalised bow bag charm, £14.45
So there you have it. And if hearing the stories behind the labels above has inspired you to start your own creative career change, here are some tips on becoming an Etsy ‘maker’ yourself…
What is Etsy?
It’s an online buyer-seller marketplace site, along similar lines to Ebay – except all items for sale are hand-made or vintage (classified as anything over 20 years old). As a seller, there are no monthly fees. It costs 15p to list an item and there’s a 3.5% commission fee for every sale.
How to sell on Etsy
We asked the site’s team for some expert advice on how to sell on the site. Here are their top 5 tips:
Have great product photography
- Photography is the most important thing, it’s the only way to see what your customers are selling. So make sure your photos are clear, well-lit ad appealing.
- Try to develop a cohesive style for all of your product shots and make sure the background is plain and neutral.
- Always edit your photos – you don’t have to know how to use Photoshop, there are some great free web-based tools available eg Picmonkey or Foto Fuze
Fill your Etsy shop with stock
- The more products you list in your shop, the more likely your chances are of getting found
Tag your products using keywords
- Think about the words customers will be using to search for your item and use those words in your product title, description and tags. g. if you are selling a bracelet, don’t call it ‘The Emma’, give it a descriptive title such as ‘Sterling silver star bracelet’. Doing this helps search engines to identify your product meaning you’re more likely to be found.
Price it right
- Make sure you are paying yourself adequately and not undercharging for the items you use to make your products or the time you spend creating them. Here’s a tried-and-tested pricing formula that a number of Etsy sellers use: Materials + Labour + Expenses + Profit = Wholesale x 2 = Retail
Create a brand identity
- Think about who your target audience is and what your brand is all about.
- Pick one or two social media platforms and start building a community around your brand
- Get in touch with bloggers, journalists and magazines that you feel would be a good fit for your brand. Briefly introduce yourself, include some eye catching product shots and invite them to get in touch with you if they would like more information