When Alexandra Bender started selling her hand-sewn leather bags online, she wasn’t sure she would have any success. Seven years later, and the Berlin-based designer sells between 60 and 100 bags a month, allowing her to make a living from her small fashion label.
She finds inspiration – and customers – on different online platforms for creative people. Here’s an overview of the most important ones:
Browsing and networking: Pinterest, Instagram
Pinterest is a good place to start. The platform is a mixture of search engine and social network, where users can search by keyword for furniture ideas, handmade products or tips about crafts or travel, for example. The results either lead to other Pinterest users or link to external sites such as blogs or online shops.
You can save things you like to your pinboards, and you can follow artists or companies. Optically, Pinterest is based on images and therefore similar to Instagram, which is also a source of creative ideas: There are over two million posts under the hashtag #doityourself .
Buying: Etsy, Amazon, IndieMade
Earrings, flowerpots, crocheted bibs for children: 1.9 million sellers offer their goods on the Etsy platform. Amazon, the shipping giant, also entered the DIY business with Amazon Handmade in 2016, though it won’t reveal the number of active sellers. Smaller sites like Shopify and IndieMade also offer handmade products and art.
The sites have different systems for checking that all the pieces that end up in the shopping basket are actually made or altered by hand. Products that are obviously industrially manufactured are frowned upon. Handmade, creative and individual items are at the forefront, which also gives sellers and buyers more scope for individualisation.
Because the platforms only provide the framework for the purchase, buyers should take a look at the provider’s terms and conditions before paying. In principle, there’s a right to return. In some cases, however, this can be excluded legally – for example, if you have a product manufactured entirely according to individual wishes.
Inspiration and instructions: Etsy, YouTube
If you don’t want to buy a pretty bobble cap but instead want to knit one yourself, you will also find a wealth of ideas, practical tips and the right tools on the web.
For example, for a small fee, Etsy provides instructions on making handicrafts – in addition to the 45 million products it features.
There are also free options: On YouTube, for example, there are plenty of craftmakers willing to share their knowledge. – dpa