A few weeks ago, Inc Magazine asked a great question, “Can Rob Kalin Scale Etsy?” It was a great question but one for which they didn’t provide much of an answer.
At the same time, I got an email from Julie Boyles, of JJBoyles famous leather iPad & phone cases, letting me know about the massive growth she’d experienced in her business. She told me how she’d managed to bring on 3 contractors to facilitate production while maintaining her hand in the majority of making.
“Well, heck,” I thought. “This is how Rob Kalin is going to scale Etsy!” Businesses that scale like this will scale Etsy for him.
There’s this really interesting shift that happens when you’re running an Etsy business, where you have to change your approach from ‘I make clothing’ to ‘I’m making a living making a business that makes clothing.’
– Rob Kalin, CEO of Etsy
So I immediately emailed Julie and demanded an interview. And because Julie is as energetic & enthusiastic as I am, if not more, she agreed just as fast.
This interview isn’t a prescription for how to grow your business. In fact, I think it’s an important interview even if you’re just interested in this crazy new arts & crafts movement. These are the issues that the success of this movement pivots on right now.
Julie and I talk about how her business has grown, what strategies she used to scale her business, why she thinks many artisans are in for a shock, and the beauty of involving others in our work.
We also discuss the stigma that exists in the craft community around “getting big” and expanding your business beyond your own two hands. Finally, Julie shares why she’s chosen to maintain such an active role in the actual making of her products (hint: you’ll like her answer!).
Etsy is not the end for Julie. Etsy is the beginning, just as it is for many artisans seeking to grow an enterprise around their craft. If more businesses scale on their own terms, Etsy will continue to scale right along with them.