What happens when you take a group of 400+ makers, add some Etsy administrators, toss in a handful of successful entrepreneurs, and put them altogether in The New School in Manhattan for two days? You get the first ever Etsy Up Conference!
On August 11th + 12th, I was fortunate enough to attend Etsy's first conference of this sort. Their goal was to bring a bunch of Etsy makers and sellers together to teach, learn, inspire, and connect. The two day conference was packed full of keynote speakers, lectures, workshops, and meet & greets. For me personally it was a very full week, but oh so much fun! But it seems easiest to start at the beginning...
Wednesday, August 10th:
I took my first ever uber ride (yay me!) to the airport and flew up to La Guardia arriving in NYC the day before the conference. After my second ever uber ride from the LGA to Brooklyn, I met up with my friends whom I was staying with and enjoyed a relaxing first night being back in the city by walking around a bit and grabbing some authentic tacos!
Thursday, August 11th - Day 1:
I woke up before my alarm, anxious to get the show on the road. After a few different outfit changes (hey, I had to look good!) I ubered on over the bridge and into Manhattan. My excitement hit the ground running when I arrived at The New School. The design of the building itself is something to admire, with a glass facade that is very geometric and segments of it jutting out here and there.
Upon entering The New School, I was shown where I needed to sign in and fill out my badge that I'd be wearing for the next two days. Since I am an Etsy seller, Etsy wholesaler, and Etsy manufacturer, I received every color sticker that they had to represent your affiliation with Etsy, with the exception of the sticker for vintage sellers. At sign in, I was excited to see long time Etsy friend Dianna from Soft Gold Co. walking in at the same time as me. Dianna and I had never met in person before, but after being on the same Etsy team and supporting one another's work for years, we already felt an instant connection. This was the first connection of many over the next two days.
Once sign in was complete, a quick breakfast and coffee fill up took place prior to all of us being corralled into the main auditorium for Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson to make his introductory speech. We were all delighted to find tote bags full of goodies such as books all written by the keynote speakers, a handmade notepad that matched the tote bag, a reusable water bottle, and other small gifts from Etsy.
After Chad's speech, the first keynote speaker came onto the stage. Her name was Fay Wolf and she is a decluttering specialist. She provided us with lots of great advice on helping our creative minds flow more freely, and how to declutter our brains along with our workspaces. She is also an avid songwriter (which spoke to me) and her down to earth, approachable demeanor made me instantly follow her on Instagram! Plus her feed is gorgeous!
The next lecture I attended was called "Beyond Likes: Social Media for Sales + Growth" that was also held in the main auditorium. A panel of four Etsy sellers sat in comfy and well-designed chairs while a moderator asked questions that were prompted by Etsy and questions that came in via the #asketsyup hashtag on social media platforms. The live audience members were also given time to ask questions towards the end. Some of the key points that I took away from that lecture were:
>Know your ideal customer inside + out. I.E.- likes, dislikes, fears, beliefs.
>Give your followers something special to make show that you understand them.
>Divorce your ego from your social media process. (This was a biggie for me! Thanks to Erin Dollar of Cotton & Flax for that one!)
Lunchtime followed that lecture, however, I was unable to participate in the lunchtime festivities as I was involved in a video interview with Etsy during that same time. (Details on that to come!) But that did provide me the opportunity to get more of a view inside The New School, peak inside their design labs, and get super jealous that my design school didn't have anything close to what I saw there.
Once lunch was over, we all went back to our designated lectures, workshops, and keynotes. Mine was "Meet the Press : And Keep Their Attention" with A Heirloom Etsy shop owner, Amy Stringer-Mowat. It was crammed full of information on how to capture magazine editors attention, how to build relationships with contacts, and setting up calendars so you are aware of editorial season deadlines. The best tips I took from Amy were:
>Think like an editor + make their job easy by providing accurate and appropriate information about your products.
>Editorial calendars are six months in advance - so be a season ahead!
>A "no" is not always forever, it could be "no not now" so follow-up!
>Hand-written thank you's and treats go a long way! :)
I had one more panel to attend that day before the final keynote speaker. The last panel I did was called "Evolve Your Product Line to Remain Competitive" and I found it to be pretty helpful. For me, the top tip from that panel was: Find holes in the market - don't look at what people are doing, look at what they aren't doing and do that well! (Thanks to Abby Morton, Mavora Art.)
Maxwell Ryan, founder of Apartment Therapy ended Day 1 with his keynote called "Dawn of a New Century: The Rise of the Millenials & The Fall of Martha Stewart." He won me over with that title alone! He spoke about how the large companies that we grew up knowing like Crate & Barrel and Martha Stewart are fading out or have been sold, and that our generation is now making up the rules and taking the power. He also talked about how "paths are never straight...energy always wants to move in a meander." He also gave us a great list of books to check out, including "The Lean Start Up" and "The House Book."
Etsy was smart enough to realize that the first day was going to be a doozy for all of us, so they teamed up with PayPal to sponsor a cocktail reception for us at a local bar that also had a rooftop deck. Free drinks and small bites were passed out by waiters and waitresses in a very chill setting. It gave us all some time to relax after the first day plus time to talk to our fellow Etsy sellers allowing us to create more connections. Plus, the view from the rooftop alone was to die for! I never wanted to leave.
Friday, August 12th - Day 2:
I woke up before my alarm again, go figure. Got ready, hopped in a car, and rode into Manhattan for Day 2. I arrived a half hour late (blame it on NYC traffic!) and snuck into the auditorium to catch the remaining part of the first keynote speaker of the day.
The second day was much more laid back than the first with only a few lectures and workshops with it all ending as early as 3:30. I attended three workshops that day, the first being "Make Your Shop Pop!" The second was "From Online to On Shelves : Successfully Segueing Into a Wholesale Business." Some top tips that I learned in that one were:
>It takes about 3-5 wholesale orders to build a relationship with a shop.
>It's better to not cold-call a store - puts them on the spot - send an email to introduce yourself and include pictures of your work there.
>Keeping a separate mailing list for your stockists is a good way to keep them up to date on lead-times and new products.
>Combining popular selling items into "packs" and selling them at a discount is great for holidays and gifting ideas!
>Be sure to include product fact sheets that have your brand terminology and language on them, and once again, treats never hurt!
The last workshop I did was all about optimizing your Etsy shop. Although it was very Etsy specific I still feel as if I can use what I learned there with my own website.
All in all, I really had a wonderful time attending this event! My notebook is full of all kinds of notes and lists to review that I wrote down during the time I was there. I came home with tons of business cards from all the new friends I met and made, and I feel as if I walked out of there with some valuable tips on running my Etsy shop and website. The personal connections that I made there were by far my favorite part; having that face to face time with makers who are dealing with the same pressures as I am running their own small business was invaluable. We realized how close-knit this community really is, and how supportive of each other we are! Just knowing that we all share the same ups and downs, struggles and strifes makes it easier when going into that dark tunnel without a flashlight.
Havok the planet,
kristen | Owner | Havok Designs