In April, thousands of Etsy sellers went on strike in protest of the company’s policies that made it harder for small business owners to turn a profit. That was the beginning of organizing against the platform. Now, merchants have formed the Indie Sellers Guild, a nonprofit working to “promote the interests” of online sellers globally.
The guild will officially launch on Sept. 5, which is Labour Day this year. According to its mission statement, the guild is working to “advocate against the ‘Amazonification’ of online marketplaces”, hoping to preserve the space for creators of handmade and artisanal goods and for the larger appreciation of “art and creativity”.
Etsy is a leading platform when it comes to the market for handmade goods, with 7.7 million active sellers and 94 million active buyers. Tensions have been rising between the company and its sellers, as Etsy began to prioritize growth and hiked up fees for its creators. At the time of the strike, which saw close to 30,000 sellers come together in solidarity, the fees charged to sellers were pushed from 5 to 6.5 percent.
The weeklong strike back in April against “Etsy’s corporate greed and exploitative policies” led to the formation of the Indie Sellers Guild, which is hoping to continue its work.
“As creators we know that every stitch, every brush stroke, every layer, and every single item we curate makes our shops and our brands stronger as a whole,” the guild’s website reads.
“During the Etsy strike, we learned that every single seller and supporter who lent their voice helped make our movement more powerful as a whole as well.”
The guild currently holds the same demands as that of the strike. This includes lowering the platform fees, invoking policies against users reselling items, and allowing merchants to withdraw from a now-mandatory advertising program.
These are the primary policies from Etsy, the guild says, that hurt merchants. The Indie Sellers Guild’s bylaws outline their commitment to “advocate collectively for fair and transparent policies in online marketplaces” and to “empower artists and sellers, not enrich CEOs and shareholders”.
After the initial protest, the company did make changes to the Star Seller program, an initiative by Etsy that elevated the goods of high-volume sellers. The program’s requirement has been lowered from 10 orders to five in a three-month period, allowing low-volume sellers to have a chance.
Mashable has reached out to Etsy for comment.