• Germany's news in English
 

Etsy gets made in Berlin

Kristen Allen · 1 Apr 2010, 18:08

Published: 01 Apr 2010 18:08 GMT+02:00

Weaving through construction debris and art supplies at the new Etsy office in Berlin's funky Kreuzberg district, 34-year-old Managing Director Matthew Stinchcomb quickly apologises for the presence of several Ikea boxes.

“Those are for our apartment, we won’t have any mass-produced goods in this office,” he told The Local this week.

When it’s finished, the converted old brick industrial space will serve as Etsy’s international headquarters – plus a gallery, workshop and community centre to further develop the web company’s "Do-it-Yourself" spirit, he said.

Stinchcomb calls the more than 170,000 people worldwide who sell their handmade goods at Etsy’s customised online shops “makers.” Their products include jewellery, photography, original silkscreened t-shirts, stationery, vintage clothing and housewares. But more than being just the eBay of alternative crafters, the site also fosters a community of creative people through technology and business education, emphasising personal contact between buyers and sellers.

The Brooklyn, New York company was founded in 2005 by Stinchomb’s roommate at the time, Robert Kalin. But it has since grown to include buyers and sellers in more than 150 countries with gross merchandise sales totalling $180.6 million in 2009. The fact that an estimated 30 percent of the company’s business is taking place abroad encouraged Etsy to chose Berlin as a base from which to expand its international services.

“To be honest, we didn’t really consider anywhere else,” Stinchcomb told The Local. “What was happening in Brooklyn five years ago is happening here now. The notion of a creative class is taking hold.”

Stinchcomb and his Munich-born wife, Benedikta Karaisl von Karais, also one of the company’s three Berlin-based employees, both said they have been feverishly exploring and collaborating with Berlin’s community of “makers” in preparation for their office launch party this Thursday.

Just outside in the office courtyard, standing in a pile of sawdust, is one of these people, Puerto Rican artist Luis Berríos-Negrón. He is building an impressive modular “mobile curatorial unit” for the Etsy office to display local crafts as part of a series of he calls “The Turtle,” which exhibited in Hamburg, Munich and Berlin in 2009.

“I fully believe in the Etsy project. It represents development and structure for a new labour society of artists,” he told The Local. “In the early 70s this idea of trans-disciplinary freelancers began, but no one stood up to represent that new economy before Etsy.”

Extending this representation to include global users is Etsy’s goal for the Berlin office. While getting to know the European DIY community is part of this, tasks for 2010 include making purchases in euro and other currencies possible, offering support in languages besides English, and creating location software.

“We see Etsy working in these countries where we’re doing nothing, but I really want people not to have to work to use the service,” Stinchcomb said. “English may be the global language, but I still think we need to make an effort.”

While Etsy hopes to see further growth through accommodating international infrastructure, Stinchcomb said the company is adamant about not forcing its US model on the new audience and allowing outside influences to have a hand in the company’s evolution.

By the looks of the overwhelming response to the launch party invitation they sent to Berlin residents registered on the site, meeting creative people to make this happen won’t be a problem.

Stinchcomb said they fielded more than double the expected RSVPs and had to close registration.

The Turtle’s sawdust will be swept up and festivities will include tables for guests to craft small items, the presence of new Munich crafting magazine “Cut,” and an exhibition by a local photographer.

“From the response it looks like we’ll have to pad our budget a bit, but really it’s about getting to know the community,” he said. “I just hope we have enough beer.”

Related links:

Kristen Allen (kristen.allen@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

19:14 April 1, 2010 by dcgi
Etsy's a great site! It's got a good spin-off site as well: http://www.regretsy.com/
11:57 April 4, 2010 by insizlane
I'm a berlin resident regiatered on the site...and I didn't get an invite! :(
Today's headlines
The photojournalist making news intimate
World Press Photo winner Mads Nissen. Photo: DPA

The photojournalist making news intimate

1 hour ago

Photographer Mads Nissen’s World Press Photo of the Year is currently touring Germany and the world. It’s a provocative image of two Russian gay men and one that some say is changing the definition of photojournalism.

Six athletics world champs head to Berlin
ISTAF is held annually in Berlin. File Photo: DPA

Six athletics world champs head to Berlin

1 hour ago

six world champions, freshly crowned from Beijing, will be gracing Berlin's Olympic Stadium on Sunday in the annual ISTAF track-and-field meet.

A week after heatwave, snow falls in Bavaria
Zugspitze, Germany's highest mountain. File Photo: DPA

A week after heatwave, snow falls in Bavaria

1 hour ago

From 30C to snow in under a week? It's possible in Germany where seven centimetres of the white stuff fell at the top of the Bavarian Alps on Friday.

Oktoberfest and the Refugee Crisis
Munich plans to keep revellers, refugees apart
Police and refugees at Munich Central Station. Photo: DPA

Munich plans to keep revellers, refugees apart

1 hour ago

Police in Munich are preparing a significant operation to ensure that drunken revelers at Oktoberfest are kept away from refugees arriving at the city's central station from Budapest.

Criminal had time for pit stop in 20-cop-car chase
Photo: DPA

Criminal had time for pit stop in 20-cop-car chase

5 hours ago

With 21 police cars and a helicopter hot on his heels, it seemed unlikely that police in Düsseldorf would fail to catch one rogue motorist. But after a two-hour pursuit, that's exactly what happened in the early hours of Friday.

What's keeping Germans awake at night in 2015?
The Greek debt crisis has been haunting German dreams. Source: Wikipedia

What's keeping Germans awake at night in 2015?

23 hours ago

Having to cough up for the excesses of spendthrift southern Europeans is the fear most likely to haunt German nightmares in 2015. But getting caught up in a natural disaster isn't far behind, an annual survey shows.

This Week in History
The death of a great humanitarian
Schweitzer spent most of his later years at Lambaréné. Photo: DPA

The death of a great humanitarian

1 day ago

On September 4th 1965, the world lost one of its most dedicated and tireless humanitarians, as Albert Schweitzer died in the African hospital he had created and cherished for over 50 years. A hospital that continues to save lives today.

Refugee crisis
Pro-refugee group push punk classic to no. 1
Die Ärzte singer and drummer Bela B. with a DVD titled "not interested in Nazis" in 2009. Photo: DPA

Pro-refugee group push punk classic to no. 1

6 hours ago

Under the banner of "Arsehole Action", activists campaigning against xenophobia and hatred of refugees have pushed a 1993 hit by punk band Die Ärzte mocking the far right to the top of Germany's charts.

Refugee Crisis
Orban: Muslims threaten European identity
Viktor Orban, guardian of Europe? Photo: DPA

Orban: Muslims threaten European identity

8 hours ago

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban warned Thursday that the wave of mostly Muslim refugees coming to Europe threatens to undermine the continent's Christian roots - an idea rejected by German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Football fan given 18 months for lighting flare
Football fans set of a flare. File Photo: DPA

Football fan given 18 months for lighting flare

8 hours ago

Germany is continuing its zero tolerance approach to football supporters lighting flares in Bundesliga grounds after a Schalke supporter was jailed for 18 months on Thursday with no parole.

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS

Features
'Berlin is kind of like the best American city'
Features
How Brits in Germany are facing Brexit fears
Sport
German named 'arse bombing' world champ
Travel
Retiree finds parked car after three-week search
National
Ten ways Germany puts Britain to shame
Business & Money
German gadget clamps down on Nutella thieves
Society
Is Germany now a nation of couch potatoes?
National
Half of Germans 'have had sex in their car'
Society
Deadly stew spooks home vegetable gardeners
Politics
The man who brought two Germanies together
Features
Where to get your culture fix in Cologne
Education
Fairytale world of Brothers Grimm brought to life
Rhineland
Thieves leave 1,000 open beers untasted
National
Way to some Germans' hearts is through their wallets
National
Germany's biggest challenge: European refugee crisis
Travel
Where to get your adrenaline pumping in Germany
Technology
Could thieves hack into luxury cars?
What to watch out for when snapping your lunch
National
German lefties through history
National
The fight over prostitution heats up
National
Merkel: migrants, not Greece, are the real challenge
Features
How I explained the Queen to the Germans
Education
Why Germany does 'back-to-school' traditions better
National
Germans are ‘not how foreigners think’
National
A mum and daughter reunite 70 years after WWII
Sport
Bra stops bullet in hunting mishap miracle
National
Cows trample German woman to death in Graubünden Alps
Business & Money
Start-up helps new Berliners short cut bureaucracy
National
The 1,000s of Germans massacred after the Second World War
Sport
Germany star scores own goal with PR gaffe
Features
'Women-only' parking: sensible or sexist?
Politics
Satire and reality blur in parody party's strife
National
13-year-old boy detained for trying to join Isis
Culture
Berlin restaurant serves up Greek Crisis Menu
Rhineland
Doctor on trial after woman wakes in morgue
Society
Six odd things Germans do in the summer
Society
Police bust kinky Bavarian couple over painful love-making
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

6,888
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd