• Germany edition
 
Etsy gets made in Berlin
Photo: Benedikta Karaisl von Karais and Matthew Stinchcomb

Etsy gets made in Berlin

Published: 01 Apr 2010 18:08 GMT+02:00
Updated: 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
UN climate talks shuffle to a close in Bonn
Photo: DPA

UN climate talks shuffle to a close in Bonn

Concern was high at a perceived lack of urgency as UN climate negotiations shuffled towards a close in Bonn on Saturday with just 14 months left to finalise a new, global pact. READ  

Berlin slams Italy Nazi claims court ruling
Italy's National Partisans' Association welcomed the court decision. Photo: DPA

Berlin slams Italy Nazi claims court ruling

Italy's constitutional court has ruled that victims of Nazi-era war crimes can sue Germany in Italian courts, rejecting a UN ruling and provoking a strong reaction from Berlin on Friday. READ  

Expats reveal another side of Berlin Wall
Photo: Paul Sullivan

Expats reveal another side of Berlin Wall

Two expats who walked the Mauerweg - the 160-kilometre trail that runs the length of the former Berlin Wall - have written a book about forgotten aspects of its past and present. READ  

Karstadt closes six stores to stay afloat
Photo: DPA

Karstadt closes six stores to stay afloat

Germany's biggest department store chain Karstadt will close at least six stores, putting around 2,000 jobs at risk, in a drastic bid by its new boss to return it to profit. READ  

Quiz
How well do you know Germany?
Photos: DPA/Shutterstock

How well do you know Germany?

Do you know your Saxony facts from your Saxony-Anhalt ones? Test your knowledge of Germany's federal states in The Local's quiz. READ  

Climate chief hails Bonn greenhouse gas deal
Pollution from a coal-fired power station in Frimmersdorf, North Rhine-Westphalia. Photo: DPA

Climate chief hails Bonn greenhouse gas deal

The UN's climate chief hailed a European agreement in Bonn on greenhouse gases on Friday as providing "valuable momentum" for a world pact to be inked in Paris next year. READ  

Germany gets €780m EU rebate for poor growth
Photo: DPA

Germany gets €780m EU rebate for poor growth

Germany will get an early Christmas present of around €779 million from the EU, thanks to weaker than expected GDP growth. READ  

Stay inside after blast, Ludwigshafen told
Photo: DPA

Stay inside after blast, Ludwigshafen told

It will take several days to find out what caused a massive explosion on Thursday which rocked a town on the Rhine, killing a builder and injuring 26 others. READ  

German helicopter fleet 'not fit for Nato'
An NH90 helicopter. Photo: DPA

German helicopter fleet 'not fit for Nato'

Germany's fleet of NH90 helicopters is undergoing engineering checks after one of them suffered a serious engine failure, in the latest blow to the country's military capabilities. READ  

Ex-boss of Berlin Airport farce gets €1.2m
Rainer Schwarz at a court hearing in September into the case. Photo: DPA

Ex-boss of Berlin Airport farce gets €1.2m

The man who was blamed for Berlin's miserable attempt to build a new airport must be paid more than €1 million - after being fired. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Photo: DPA
Politics
Satirist lives the dream on EU gravy train
Photo: DPA
Gallery
PHOTOS: Huge explosion rocks Ludwigshafen
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
Which high school cliche is your German city?
Photo: DPA
Gallery
Storm hits southern Germany
Sponsored Article
An international school unlike any other : School on the Rhine
Photo: Fitzpatrick family
Society
'We still don't know what happened to Matthew'
Photo: Mariana Schroeder
Munich
Special Report: Hope and chaos at Munich's refugee shelters
Photo: DPA
Culture
Can you top our history quiz leaderboard?
Photo: DPA/Shutterstock
Gallery
11 things Germans are afraid of...
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Sponsored Article
Bilingual education from nursery to graduation at Phorms
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

3,532
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd