Thursday, February 5, 2015

Etsy Captains Summit


Our Captain Ele of minouette and Leaders Michelle of thunderpeep and Christine of Art That Moves were amongst about 50 leaders from teams across Canada who spent Monday and Tuesday at the Etsy Summit here in Toronto. Along with our  fellow team captains and leaders from across the country, Etsy staff and guests, we've been planning the (anxiously awaited) follow-up to our amazing Etsy: Made in Canada show! It was such an astonishing success, we're going to try to make it a yearly event. Saturday, September 26th, the Toronto Etsy Street Team and 416Hustlers are planning to do it again, at MaRS. There will also be many more simultaneous shows from coast to coast to coast!

Besides meeting like-minded makers, sellers and leaders, we had a chance to really learn from everyone else's experience.

Some of the highlights included talks from our peers. The tireless powerhouse from WEST (the Winnipeg Etsy Street Team), Ruth Schulz Smith shared her Event Management expertise and enthusiasm. It's no coincidence she won the only award, having been nominated by her peers. Jessika Hepburn, one of the Halifax leaders and creator of Oh My Handmade! gave an amazing talk about community building and working with partners big and small. I don't want to sound corny, but it was really inspiring. One captain said she felt her mind so teeming with ideas that she couldn't sleep. As a group, we are consciously coming from the vantage of the handmade movement; we all want to grow our small businesses, but we are also fostering an economy that values the artists, designers, the handmade, the local, the eco-friendly, the repurposed or vintage treasures over the mass produced.  All of the captains and leaders volunteer their time for their teams, and are working to make things easier for all of these handmakers and vintage sellers to run their businesses and maybe even make a life from what they love. Maybe it isn't surprising that they had such interesting things to say about community, partnerships and creative businesses working to improve their corners of the world.
Ruth with rapt audience

Jessika talks about getting involved

We also heard from Etsy. We had some fun PR role playing with the lovely Etsy PR folks as well as their publicists. There was a great talk from their guest colleague Moishe Lettvin, an engineering manager for Seller Growth. He started his talk with images of his mother's pysanky (Ukrainian style) eggs to explain how he'd grown up surrounded by handmade items. While his creative outlet is writing code, he explained that finding a job at Etsy, after Microsoft and Google, felt like coming home. I enjoyed a peek at the technical stuff about the back end of Etsy, but it was also great to hear his enthusiasm for the things we do, and making it easier to run our businesses. Lastly, we got a chance to ask some questions about what the future may hold! I think people left reinvigorated, full of new ideas and happy, which is wonderful.

Our TEST leadership team is getting together soon to plan all our events for 2015. Be sure to let us know if you have any great ideas for what we can do as a team! Bigger and better shows, get-togethers, workshops, and more partnerships are all on the table and we always love hearing from members.

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