Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The NEW Boston Handmade

Way back in the year 2006 the great website Etsy.com was launched, and with it's inception the lives of many artists and craftspeople changed forever, and for the better. Suddenly we were able to take greater control over the sales of our work, easily and inexpensively reach a global audience, and connect with other independent creative people who were previously working largely in seclusion.

In 2007 Boston Handmade was founded to help support local creatives in their new online sales adventures. The original idea for Boston Handmade was that if we could help each other by sharing business and marketing skills, art and craft techniques, and networking activities, we could harness the power of the group to increase each others sales and market exposure, and thus work together to grow and strengthen our individual businesses.

For several years the activities of Boston Handmade filled a much needed void. Believe it or not, in 2007, there were not art and craft fairs happening every weekend all over the Commonwealth, crafters did not have their choice of meet-ups every day of the week in neighborhoods dotting the landscape, and there were not classes and workshops offered to artists to help make the most of online networking. In 2007 we weren't Tweeting, Pinning, Liking, posting, and texting between rows of knitting and before our morning coffee.

So much has happened in the past five years!

Many aspects of daily life and commerce have positively changed for those of us making a living through lives dedicated to making art. There is now greater respect for shopping local and buying handmade, and our options for selling our wares via live venues, on consignment, online, and through wholesale have radically improved. It's no longer a question for dedicated artists and craftspeople whether or not they will have successful businesses, it's now a question of which avenues to take to make their business shine. In addition to Etsy there are now several well respected online handmade shopping portals such as BigCartel and Supermarket, and great online shopping cart providers like Shopify for creating your own online marketplace. We now have our choice of how to wirelessly accept payment for art sales through services such as Square and Intuit, and we can choose to market to our customers with printed postcards or eblasts using Constant Contact, MailChimp, or a myriad of other similar services. It is almost impossible to believe that we did NOT have all of these choices at our fingertips just a few years ago.

With all of these exciting improvements in the lives of creative businesses many of the activities produced and hosted by Boston Handmade might have become as little, well, redundant. In our first two years we were producing frequent small craft shows because there were very few other opportunities for our group members to participate in such events, now there are hundreds annually. In our first three years we practically had a meet-up scheduled each week for our members to get together to craft, talk, teach, learn, and share, but now there are endless places to go to meet with other crafters, and so many professional opportunities that we even publish a monthly newsletter listing local offerings. Along with these changes, we are changing too.

As Boston Handmade enters our sixth year of supporting local creative professionals we have restructured to provide our members with what they want and need the most. We are focusing less on what is available elsewhere, and focusing more on what makes us unique as a group. Over the next few weeks and months we will be sharing what's new through our blog, so please check in. There's lots to still do, lots to still share, and lots of growing ahead. We hope that you stick around, share your voice through blog comments, send us emails about what you'd like to see from Boston Handmade, and celebrate the handmade life with us and with your own creativity every day.


  1. I love being in this group. We have done so much in the last few years

  2. it is pretty crazy how fast things have changed with technology for artists and other career paths. i wish it didn't eat up so much time, but i guess it's a good thing in the big picture.

    i love the group and i totally look forward to our future.

  3. wow, I cant believe how many new virtual ways of selling and marketing have surfaced in just a few years! I'm excited for the new stage in BH!


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