Maritime Makers make it on their own

After splitting from Etsy, the annual craft market will go on as planned: “We don’t need Etsy, we just need each other.”

click to enlarge JESSIKA HEPBURN
Jessika Hepburn
Jessika Hepburn and Fatema Sidat have a lot in common. They both have kids, a knack for making jewellery, and a passion for community organizing, especially when it comes to local handmade goods.

Hepburn and Sidat are the co-organizers of this weekend’s Maritime Makers Market (formerly the Etsy Made In Canada market), an annual craft show that showcases local artisans from across the Atlantic provinces. This year, the two have decided to split from online craft giant Etsy after a change in leadership and values.

When Sidat first joined Etsy in 2011, she was drawn to the diversity in the ages, genders, sizes and people the online marketplace showcased. But when she came back to the site in 2016 after being on maternity leave, she noticed a lot of changes.

“There were a lot of community-lead features that I grew to love, and some of those things started being phased out,” she says. “The people that we grew to love at the Toronto headquarters, a lot of them left or quit. There was just a lot of changes in a very short amount of time.”

Hepburn joined Etsy in 2007. She’s been around for a lot of growth within the company, and was a crucial organizer in the Etsy Made in Canada movement. She is concerned with Etsy’s lack of ethics and transparency in its sudden changes after the hiring of CEO Josh Silverman, a former executive with American Express and eBay.

click to enlarge JESSIKA HEPBURN
Jessika Hepburn
Hepburn and Sidat joined forces with Etsy to bring the Made in Canada market to Halifax five years ago, but have always organized the volunteer-run event on their own. Sidat and Hepburn have always prioritized diversity, inclusion and community.

“In my mind, we always were going to step away because we did have limitations to working with Etsy—we can’t take other makers, they have to be on Etsy, things like that,” says Sidat. “It just felt like the right time.”

Hepburn couldn’t agree more.

“I think that Nova Scotians, and makers, have everything they need to build better economies and stronger communities and more inclusive movements,” she says. “We don’t need Etsy to do that work, we just need each other.”

The Maritime Makers Market will take place on Saturday, September 22 at Cunard Centre, Pier 23 (961 Marginal Road) 10am-6pm.

Etsy will still run 37 Made In Canada markets next Saturday (September 29), including events in Charlottetown, St. John's, Sussex and Sackville, New Brunswick

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