Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Talky Tuesday: Why I (Almost) Never Shop on Etsy (And Why I Want to Change That)

Confession: I almost never shop on Etsy.

Terrible! I'm not putting my money where my mouth is! I know. But I kind of want to talk it out here, as therapy for myself and maybe for anyone else.

Straight up: I am kind of broke, and (if you're pricing correctly), cool things on Etsy are rarely cheap. What I do buy fairly frequently on Etsy are supplies. Things I use to make things to sell or give to other people, but few things for me.

In fact, despite being on Etsy since 2008, the first thing I bought for myself (not a supply, and not a gift for someone) was last year. 2015. It was a gorgeous brass ear cuff for a wedding I was in/attending, and I still wear it when I want to feel ~~fancy.

Not the best photo; here it is on creepy gray ear model:

Lotus ear cuff from Sunny Skies Studios

I 1000% do not regret that purchase. Zero buyer's remorse there. But I'm still so hesitant to shop for myself on Etsy—more than elsewhere. Why?

For someone like me, it's hard to maintain a balance between anti-materialism (consumer culture doesn't solve problems!) and self-care (TREAT YO' SELF). I have never aspired to be anything other than comfortably middle class: a roof over my head, food, clothes, some discretionary cash for hobbies and things. Conspicuous consumption is not my game. Given my current finances, this is a pretty good philosophy to take.

And given that, despite bleating about the recession being over, most people still don't feel entirely financially comfortable, I think it's safe to say that most people (at least most people out here reading this) feel the same way I do. Luxuries and birthday/Christmas/"just because" gifts to ourselves feel inappropriate and like a waste of money. And despite the influx of sketchy, cheap resellers, I feel like my shopping on Etsy is a luxury. When I bought that ear cuff, I searched for a couple days and looked at loads of options. I asked JV for his input. I spent time on it because I wanted it to be something I would love and enjoy forever, because it was enough money for me to think about it seriously.

Yet here I am, trying to convince you all to casually TREAT YO' SELVES when I don't feel comfortable treating my self. Who am I to tell you how to feel about your money?! It feels a little dishonest. After all, I'm not exactly throwing a spending party on Etsy. I bought that ear cuff almost a year ago...!

I think I can do better than that. I think I can find small things, or things on sale, to help another indie biz owner get by. Or I can splurge on my birthday. Frugality is an always thing; it's not ruined by being kind to yourself for once.

What do you say, my fellow cheapskates? (Let's call a spade a spade, eh?) Let's promise to buy one nice handmade thing for ourselves this year. 

Like this dress from SizeIsJustANumber is still available. It must be a sign!

Or this one from Size Queen!

Like it or not, we live in a capitalist culture that more or less equates money with caring. Money with value. To keep your sanity, you have to take the practices and rules you apply to your interactions with others (remembering birthdays; wanting to find the PERFECT gift) and apply them to yourself, or the double standard will probably eventually drive you up the wall.

At the same time, let's remember that consumer culture is slowing destroying us. It's destroying our planet and it's destroying how we feel about ourselves.

I don't get a lot of repeat customers. I don't get any, actually. According to all the people who make their money telling indie biz owners how to make money, this isn't good. I should be doing all I can to encourage repeat customers; to keep you coming back for new and different goodies. I should get your email address and send you a newsletter and alerts about sales and coupon codes and new items...

I really don't like that.

I think, generally, people are happy with their jewelry from me. I think people only need one piece of #sciart or #mathart jewelry in their life. That's OK. I'd rather sell one necklace to someone who loves it and wears it when she wants to feel fancy or dress up and gets so much joy out of it than sell a dozen necklaces to someone who never wears any of them and is still miserable. I'm not interested in cultivating and then feeding a consumerist need in anyone who likes my jewelry; I just want to share something cool with you, something cool enough that you'll value my time for creating it.

Even if we don't buy more this year, we can buy better. We can be thoughtful consumers who demand high-quality, sustainable, ethical goods. We can spend less but enjoy more. We can break the taboo on money and gift cards as gifts and halt (some) of our needless ritual stuff-buying. We can see value in charitable donations, or the gift of time together.

FrreeImages.com/Anna H-G

Let's spend better.

What do you say?


  1. I LOVE this post. I agree with absolutely everything you said.