I headed to Sheffield for the first time last weekend. My visit was planned specifically to check out online craft market place, Folksy’s event- the Weekend of the Maker. The event was a two-day independent craft market hosted at Roco Creative Coop’s building (http://www.theroco.org), which ran alongside a program of workshops all based around building and bettering creative businesses.
I suppose the event can be ruled as a success, simply for the fact that because of it, Folksy now has one more follower. That follower being me. As I arrived at the event, I took the opportunity to chat to some of the Folksy staff, who explained to me what Folksy is- as previous to finding the Facebook event page, I had not heard of it- “Folksy is a place to buy and sell hand crafted or designed work from UK designer-makers”.
I asked the question, “How does Folksy differ from other online platforms, such as Etsy?” The answer I received was that because Folksy is exclusive to the UK, there are no transaction fees, where as if you were to sell through Etsy, although you have the benefit of a worldwide market, you would have to pay a 3.5% fee. Folksy also offer two packages: a pay as you go (basic) account, and a Folksy Plus subscription. Their basic account charges 15p plus VAT (so, say about 19p), which is above Etsy’s 16p charge. However the benefit with Folksy is that because it is UK based, all currency is in sterling, avoiding any issues with exchange rates, so sellers are safe knowing what they will be charged. Folksy’s Plus package is ideal for sellers who list frequently or stock a large number of items, and is only £45 a year.
On top of the financial benefits, Folksy also offers a solid ethical ethos, which This Girl Makes gives big thumbs up to. Their five beliefs are in craft skills (a love of making), a strength in numbers, ‘cottage’ industries, meritocracy, and a ‘David, not Goliath’ approach. It’s a no-brainer really, for those designer-makers just setting out on their venture, it seems Folksy is accessible, proactive and provides a supportive community. Their blog features an advice for sellers column, which provides helpful pages for new entrepreneurs, such as tips for product photography and advice for social media. All of this is supported by their consistent schedule of workshops and sessions, which predominantly take place in Northern England, as the company is Sheffield based.
I’m sure Folksy will continue to be successful, as “the UK is currently in the middle of a craft revival, spurred on by independent design fairs, bespoke pop-ups and online marketplaces like Folksy” (The Guardian Weekend, 19th November 2016. Featured on the Folksy Blog, http://blog.folksy.com).
The market itself was far bigger than I expected, and as I found from chatting to the stall-holders, there was a mix between hobbyist makers and professional designer-makers, however there was a consistent standard across the board. I did leave the market feeling a bit underwhelmed by the lack of solid timber products, and thought that many of the businesses there didn’t seem to push sustainability as part of their branding. Possibly I was just looking the wrong way, but for someone who is particularly passionate about the use of wood and purposeful design, I think there is perhaps a void, which needs to be filled with workshops and seminars for small businesses on tackling the issue of sustainability.
I will end this with a short plea for all those within the craft industries to be conscious of environmental issues and how we can each be responsible through our work. Keep up to date with This Girl Makes, as we will be posting articles on sustainable design in due course.