In a Relationship with Etsy

I’ve been in a love-hate relationship with Etsy since 2015

Navigating the Waves of Change: My Etsy Journey from Boating Brand to Handmade Reinvention

In 2015, fueled by a passion for boating and the lake lifestyle, I embarked on a side gig that would soon blossom into a flourishing e-commerce shop on Etsy. As an avid Michigan boater with a day job as a graphic designer and digital marketing guru, my journey into entrepreneurship was an exhilarating ride.

Equipped with heat presses, a fully equipped photo studio, and an abundance of blank shirts, hats, and can coolers, my Mount Clemens office transformed into a bustling hub for creativity. The packaging supplies took over, and I found myself juggling client projects during the day while dedicating evenings and weekends to my growing Etsy shop.

Shipping my most popular items to Canada and Dubai was a testament to the global reach of my brand. The first Christmas season hit, and I was processing and shipping an impressive 20 packages a day, a feat that required a dedicated postal pick-up box right outside my door. I had even begun selling on Amazon.

I took branding seriously, meticulously adorning each package with stamps, ribbons, stickers, and craft gift boxes, exuding the nautical charm that defined my brand. Local markets saw the emergence of pop-up shops adorned with tents, banners, and display racks, transforming me into a tireless and energized bunny working 24/7.

In 2017, facing the inevitable clash between Etsy and my demanding day job, exhaustion won, leading me to make the tough decision to close up shop. The materials and equipment hibernated for two years before finding new homes in the inventory of a local consignment store. Nautical gift shops started popping up in New Baltimore and I noticed that the big box stores were copying Etsy designers and filling retail chains like Michaels and Walmart with handmade-looking merchandise sourced from China.

The siren song of creation, however, could not be silenced. Post-pandemic, with the world gradually emerging from a long period of slow to no work, a newfound desire to create surfaced. Armed with a brand new iPad, Apple Pencil, and Procreate, I decided to take a step back in time, exploring the world of drawing and painting. The prospect of DTG printing and drop shipping beckoned, driven by the lessons learned from my previous venture’s challenges with labor, overstock, and material management.

Yet, the Etsy landscape had transformed during my hiatus. As I dipped my toes into the marketplace, I found myself facing a different reality. A decade of Etsy’s growth had birthed a highly competitive environment. Each concept I conjured seemed to echo with a sense of déjà vu, already explored by countless other creators.

Undeterred, I created listings and advertised on Etsy, only to be met with the silence of minimal traffic. The game had indeed changed.

Amidst the sea of challenges, the need for reinvention became evident. Now an ex-equestrian mom, and domestic violence survivor, I needed a new creative outlet. A shift towards artistic authenticity, coupled with new passions for mindfulness and doodle dogs and wanting to make a difference in the world and seeking positive change.. The question lingered – was I a handmade imposter in a transformed Etsy landscape?


As I navigate the waves of change, the Etsy journey continues. The lessons from the past meet the challenges of the present, and the canvas of reinvention awaits its strokes. The tide may have changed, but the spirit of creation remains undaunted, ready to chart a new course on Etsy’s ever-evolving seas. After a round of testing on-demand printing and drop shipping, I’ve determined I need to establish a new brand or two following my GLS success in 2015. To be continued….