Rutgers workshop teaches students how to perfect their Etsy store
Some Etsy sellers are only looking to make a profit, but Chad Dickerson, the company's CEO, said the site is really just trying to "build an 'Etsy economy'" that connects people.
The Center for Urban Entrepreneurship and Economic Development offers classes at Rutgers to help craft makers establish an Etsy shop to sell their products, according to the Rutgers Business School website.
Etsy is an online store where you can buy and sell handmade and vintage items. There is a unique variety of items that include jewelry, bath and beauty products, to name a few.
“The program started by Etsy, they develop the curriculum and they find an Etsy seller who lives in the area and have them teach the course,” said Becky Garcia, the instructor of the Rutgers class.
Etsy often partners with libraries and community centers to set up this workshop for crafters, she said.
Garcia has been selling items on Etsy since 2010, and her shop has taken off since. She got her bachelor's degree from Yale University in American Art and Material Culture, and a master’s degree in American Material Culture.
Though she "started for fun," Garcia now has a successful Etsy store where her bestselling items are her pillows.
“I actually just started for fun by putting some stuff online and thought I would make some extra cash, and then my shop kind of took off in the first three months, and I realized I can make it my full time job instead of working for someone else,” Garcia said. “I basically didn’t go to school for what I do. So yeah I am a full time shop owner and that’s what I do all day."
Garcia does not work for Rutgers, nor does she work for Etsy. She is an independent Etsy seller who teaches the class based on her experience with the site.
“It’s a combination of the curriculum that Etsy has written and also my own separate experiences on Etsy, so I am able to answer more specific questions that students may have,” Garcia said. “It is basically a crash course on what it takes to open an Etsy shop. They give lessons on marketing, and on how to price things that you are selling."
This is the second time the course is being taught at Rutgers, she said.
Students can list up to 20 items for sale for free to minimize the startup costs. In order to attend the workshop, sellers must have a handmade craft item to sell, and ideas for a related line of products.
Other eligibility requirements include residency in New Jersey, a credit card and checking account and regular access to a computer with Internet connection.
More people apply than there are slots for the workshop. Garcia said there is no judgement on whether the craft item will sell because everyone has different taste, so sellers never know what ends up being attractive.
Garcia shared some insight on what she believes an individual applying for this program should have.
She looks for students with ideas or products that are ready to be sold immediately, rather than investments that need time to develop, she said.
The Rutgers Business School has been helpful in providing the site of the meetings.
“They control the whole application process, and do the entire background work," she said.
The marketing sponsors for the workshop are Greater Newark Enterprises Corporations Goodwill, the Newark Community Economic Development Corporation and the Forward Ever Sustainable Business Alliance.
“I am really thankful for them because they are the ones that made the whole thing happen," Garcia said.
Pragya Hooda is a School of Engineering sophomore majoring in biomedical engineering. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.