Handmade Philly, an independent, member-run collective, encourages artists, crafters and designers to join Greater Philadelphia’s growing network of professional and amateur artists. Once limited to the members of Philly Etsy Team, the group seeks to further our city’s local, sustainable handmade movement by building community, providing educational workshops and promotional events.
By joining Handmade Philly, you will form and build relationships, help plan and participate in events, and share resources. Doesn’t matter whether you’re selling out gallery openings or dusting off an old paint set, Handmade Philly wants artists of all media, styles and levels of experience. As an active member, you must be producing your own work (sorry, no vintage or re-sales) and will be expected to participate by attending meetings, posting on the message boards, distributing group information (website/ flyers/ advertisement design) or planning and hosting events. In less than two months, the group has over 90 designers, artists and makers including illustrators, woodworkers, printers, painters and photographers from Philadelphia County, Montgomery County, Chester County, Delaware County, NJ and DE. So if you’re eager to learn new skills, got some tips and ideas to share, or just need a little boost to keep the creative juices going, check out Handmade Philly!
To Apply: Please send your contact information along with a link to your web address (or blog, or etsy shop, etc.) or three jpegs (no larger than 1024 x 768 pixels and 72 dpi) of your recent work to: info [at] handmadephilly [dot] com
With its long hours, hard decisions, and competitive ethos, small business ownership can be a lonely pursuit. But more and more people in this city are realizing that it doesn’t have to be. Philly is bursting with organizations committed to a more cooperative picture of entrepreneurship—people coming together to find solutions.
Entrepreneurship Week connects business owners. So does our partnering organization, Handmade Philly. From recruiting vendors to spreading the word, Handmade Philly helped make the Entrepreneurship Week Launch Party possible. Sorting out vending opportunities, however, is just one small component of the organization’s collaborative mission. Check out this Q&A with group coordinator Ruth Schanbacher to learn more about what they do.
What is the mission of Handmade Philly?
Basically to provide resources and a supportive environment for established and emerging artists, craftspeople, and designers, self-taught or otherwise. We provide a forum for communication and events. I’m particularly interested in the community aspect: supplies swaps, skill shares, happy hours, just providing a supportive network.
How did it get started?
The organization started off as the Philly Etsy team. Sarah Selepouchin worked for Etsy and she coordinated different teams. They could be based on region or product. There could even be a team for people with Etsy shops named Amy. But she needed to devote more time to her shop and some other projects and to spend less time in the coordinator position. A few different members stepped up to coordinate, myself included, then there was a bit of a hiatus. I still serve as coordinator, but every member is expected to chip in by hosting events and being active on the forums.
Are your members looking to work full-time as artisans?
Probably about 80% also work another job. Since we have a wide range of people involved in the group, it would be fair to say that the members’ goals also cover the spectrum. Not everyone wants to work full time as an artist. With that said, it would be great if our resources and networks could help people achieve their goals.
What obstacles do your members face in transitioning from part-time to full-time business ownership?
A lot of people have questions about taxes. No one really discusses it much, but I think health benefits are probably pretty important too. Other obstacles probably include ability, knowledge, and confidence.
How does Handmade Philly make it easier to be an artisan full-time?
Members provide support to other members. Someone will say, “Hey, I think I’d be a lot more successful if I could accept credit cards,” and someone will say, “This is how I do that.” There are a lot of instances like that.
In the future, I’d really like to be more involved in other microenterprise groups and get the perspective of people in other fields—really just learn from a community of entrepreneurs. We’re in the process of forming a “brainstorming group,” so people have a place to voice their issues and we can think of ways to address them collectively.
How can consumers help support local artisans?
By shopping at independently run small businesses, you’re supporting the business and the artists who consign there. When you have a need, whether it be a gift or otherwise, think about ways to buy it locally and handmade. If you go onto Etsy, we have a little tag, so you can type in “Philly Team” and find people who are Handmade Philly members. We have a list of members on our blog (https://handmadephilly.wordpress.com/members/), though it isn’t 100% up to date. I’d also like to, as a long term goal, put together a directory, so it’s as easy as possible to find local handmade items.