Etsy is known for being a place that brings the global world of unique, handcrafted items right to your doorstep via the internet.
But did you know that you can use Etsy to shop local as well?
For those of you not familiar with Etsy, it’s an online marketplace for handmade and vintage items. Started in 2005, the website has become huge. Sales in 2013 topped out over $1.35 billion, and the site gets over 60 million unique visitors a month.
Santa Cruz is big on supporting its local businesses. Buying local is good for the local economy, and keeps more dollars circulating within the community than buying from an out-of-town business or chain store.
With the location filter on Etsy, you can narrow down your shopping search to see items from Santa Cruz-based businesses. (For full directions on how to search using the location filter, see the end of this article).
Santa Cruz is full of talented artisans, many of whose products are not available anywhere else besides Etsy. Here are just a few of the skilled craftspeople who are currently representing Santa Cruz on Etsy:
Leyna Allred, owner of URB Apothecary, started out making all-natural beauty products for friends and family as presents.
“I’ve always had a penchant for all things natural and making my own Christmas presents. One Christmas, I made a first-aid herbal salve and everyone who received it loved it and insisted that I make more and sell them. As I started learning and becoming more aware of the toxic chemicals we are unwittingly applying to our bodies, I decided that ‘back to nature’ was the answer. I never use fillers or chemical preservatives and use only organic, high quality ingredients,” she says.
With a Bachelor’s degree in Food and Nutrition and a passion for natural health remedies, Leyna makes all her products herself from her own recipes.
Jesse’s Etsy store is focused on string art: colorful artworks made by placing nails on a wooden base and wrapping colored string back and forth around different nails to create an image. The Nine Red shop on Etsy sells ready-to-hang string art pieces, custom-order words and names, and string art patterns and kits in case you want to try your hand at it but don’t have the tools or space for a workshop.
About offering the do-it-yourself kits, Jesse says, “I love making orders for people, but inspiring someone to tackle their own DIY projects is just as rewarding”.
Dawn O’Regan of Ribbon Street makes playfully patterned fabric bags, cases and cardholders. Each of her creations is one-of-a-kind, partnering different vibrantly printed Japanese fabrics in dynamic combinations.
In addition to her online Etsy store, Dawn’s products are available at several retail shops around Northern and Central California, as well as at the many shows she attends as a vendor throughout the year. Click here for a listing of the bricks and mortar stores and shows where you can find Ribbon Street goods.
Hop To is an Etsy shop owned by Lisa Norelli, who handcrafts wonderfully detailed children’s costumes. Lisa learned how to sew as a little girl, by takings things apart to see how they were made.
Several years ago, a friend asked her to make an owl costume for his son. The experience and results were so rewarding that she decided to create Hop To in order to create unique, handmade and high quality costumes for kids.
Lisa also offers custom-made orders: “I have the opportunity to indulge parents and kids who want something you can’t find anywhere else”.
There are so many additional wonderful and creative Santa Cruz-based shops on Etsy. Here are a few more of my favorites:
September Wren specializes in “sun-drenched photography”.
Piggy Hates Panda makes adorable dolls with hand-embroidered details.
Looking for a writing implement for your cards from Lucky Bee Press? One Up Designs makes colorful pencils with funny sayings stamped on them.
And there’s my own Etsy store, Kelp Forest Crafts, selling hand-embroidered wall hangings inspired by the surfing life.
So the next time you’re looking for a special gift or that one-of-a-kind item to pull the living room together, take the most local of all shopping trips — jump on your computer and support a Santa Cruz artisan on Etsy.
How to Find More Santa Cruz Artisans on Etsy
Etsy makes it fairly easy to search by location; there are two ways:
1. You can browse by clicking a product category at the top of Etsy’s home page:
Select a product type within that category:
Click on “shop location” in the upper righthand corner of the resulting page:
Enter in “Santa Cruz, California”, and all the Etsy sellers of furniture located in Santa Cruz will come up.
2. On the Etsy homepage, enter the item you’re looking for in the search box at the top of the screen, and click “Search”:
Once the page of search results comes up, go to “Any Location” in the sidebar on the left side of the screen. Click on “Santa Cruz, CA”, which will be listed under “Any Location”:
This will filter your search results so that only Santa Cruz sellers are shown.