By Sabrah Shipman
Small stones and supplies were strewn about the small, wooden table in center of the room. The pile of string grew smaller and smaller as she wove it through each of the stones. The dorm was quiet. The only sound was her breathing and the stones gently clicking against the table.
For about a year, TJC student Jessica Kohutek has been an active seller on Etsy, which is an online marketplace that allows people around the world to connect and make friends as well as make and sell their creations. She and her mother have been making handcrafted jewelry for a long time.
“When I was younger I was diagnosed with type one diabetes and you always have to wear a medical identification bracelet. The ones you buy at the store are always so ugly and bulky that my mom and I started making them. With that, my love of making jewelry just kind of grew,” said Kohutek.
Etsy was created in 2005 to fill a need for an online community where artists, makers, and crafters could sell their vintage and handmade goods. The items for sale include jewelry, craft supplies, clothing, art, photography, beauty products, various knick-knacks and more.
This year will be Kohutek’s first “Etsy Christmas,” so she doesn’t know quite what to expect this holiday season, however, she is excited to see what is going to happen. For her, it is not about the profit, that is just a plus.
“I do it mostly when I have nothing to do, when I am bored, when I need a break from homework. You know, you have to do these things not for the money because the economy is not so good right now, and you have to really love what you do,” said Kohutek, who is a Medical Office Management major. “More than anything it’s a hobby, and selling it is definitely a perk and it’s a way to reach out.”
The name of Kohutek’s store is “Sew Part Time & Creations,” where she and her mother sell necklaces, bracelets, earrings and even diaper cakes. A lot of Kohutek’s jewelry is made out of natural stones. She is always learning how to make something new online or from friends so she has something new to sell in her store. Over time, she has found a balance between school and jewelry-making. She has also found a way to overcome the challenge of working in a small space like her dorm.
“You have to buy the materials and you have to invest the time, which when you’re in college you don’t have a lot of either. I think it’s wonderful for everybody to study and have a trade that they know how to do,” said Kohutek. “I have a tub with all of my different beads and materials. It slides under my bed when I’m not using it, so it’s great to pull out and have going in a small space.”
Kohutek is an RA on campus, so aside from selling to her online customers, she often has coworkers interested in her jewelry.
“I’ve got some coworkers that have bought from me. Since they know that I make it they say, ‘Hey, I’m going to this event, would you like to stop by and show me what you’ve made?’ That’s a great way to get my name out,” said Kohutek.
Handmade goods and products are becoming increasingly popular. In fact, in early October of this year, Amazon started “Amazon Handmade.” The products offered are similar to what can be found on Etsy.
Many think part of the reason the world is starting to seek more handmade goods is because more and more young people are turning to crafting as a way to make a living. The trend has also been helped significantly by technology. New technology and social media make it easier for entrepreneurs to get goods out to their customers thanks to sites like Etsy, Amazon, and Facebook.
Etsy practices open craft fairs, giving sellers personal storefronts where they are able to list their goods for a fee of just 20 cents per item. Etsy also charges a 3.5 percent fee for sales completed on the site. There are currently 1.5 million active sellers on Etsy, 26 million items for sale and 22.6 million active buyers.
Have a love for crafting and want to make some money? Become an Etsy seller by visiting etsy.com/sell. To find Jessica Kohutek’s store, visit etsy.com/shop/SewPartTimeCreations.