I walked in and thought: I can’t believe I’m here. Little old me, thousands of miles from home, getting a personalised tour of Etsy’s global head office.
Last year I took part in the 2014 Etsy Design Awards and was lucky enough to have the Negative/Positive ring voted the winner of the Community Choice award. You may remember this, because many of you were kind enough to vote for me!
As part of the prize, I was flown to New York to tour the head office of the world’s biggest online marketplace dedicated specifically to independent artists, designers and makers. When I say “big”, I mean 32 million items (at the time of writing) being created and sold to almost every country in the world.
I was greeted at the custom made front desk, created by a New York artist from objects found on the streets of Brooklyn. Even in the lobby, creativity was literally spilling from the walls in the form of an indoor garden, artworks by local designers, chairs repurposed from vintage car seats and custom made office mascots!
In the background, a tiny dog trotted across the office (we visited him later – pup’s name is Doug and while his owner works, he lies by her side snuggled in a blanket). I hadn’t even stepped past the lobby and already it was looking pretty awesome. Any dog-friendly workplace gets automatic bonus points from me.
The tour was conducted by the lovely Bernadette Sweeney, head of the Community Connections Team.
If I ever work in another office it’s got to be one like this! Furniture and decorations made by Etsy sellers and staff. Desks decked out with Etsy goodies. Wall murals painted by local artists. And more recycling facilities than I have seen in New York on all my days combined!
Fun fact: In 2006, every single Etsy seller fit in the frame in the image below. And now in 2015, there are over 1.4 million active sellers in 150 countries worldwide.
Once acquainted with the office, I was introduced to Audrey Manning from Etsy’s Seller Education Editorial Team. We hid away in a private meeting room for a chat and an interview for the Etsy Seller Handbook. This was followed by a personalised shop review with Seller Education Manager, Kathryn Fink. The hour flew by and by the end of it, my head was filled with great information and new ideas – just the way I like it!
Next was everyone’s favourite time of day – lunch! Twice a week, Etsy hosts Eatsy, a communal, locally sourced meal for its 450-strong Brooklyn team. Carefully sourced and thoughtfully prepared, Eatsy takes the same know-your-maker approach that Etsy strives to cultivate within its community.
Today I was treated to Vietnamese beef and sweet tea with mint. Delish!
With my belly full I moved on to the next and final item on my Etsy tour. Warding off stage fright, I featured as one of three guest speakers in Seller Success Stories, a live online panel broadcast to Etsy sellers both in and out of the US.
Suffice to say, it was a pretty amazing visit! It was great seeing that, despite being a large global business, Etsy’s philosophies around independent designers, strong communities and corporate responsibility infiltrate through to the everyday.
I love that all new staff receive $100 to decorate their workspaces with items purchased from Etsy sellers, that Eatsy meals are served up on compostable plates, that Etsy staff collaborate with local artists to create the murals and art projects displayed around the office, and that every Friday a staff member rides a big orange bike called Betsy to the Red Hook Community Farm to donate compost that is used to grow fresh fruit and vegetables.
What I love most about this is that work doesn’t just have to be work. It can (and should) be about doing what you’re great at, doing it passionately and having fun along the way!
Check out more fun stories on the blog.