A Feral Future

Right now it seems everything is up in the air and situations change every day.  My online shop is open, and I wanted to let you know about some adjustments I’ll put in place in the coming weeks. My independent online shop, feralstrumpet.co.uk will remain open and orders will go out once a week.

Many of you know about the recent changes at Etsy, the latest of a series that have put pressure on small makers selling on the site.  These have come as the share holders of Etsy stock have demanded deeper profits for themselves. The increase in fees are about to be implemented when all small businesses are struggling to survive.

Etsy’s latest change involves mandatory ad payments “for the lifetime of my shop.” The cost will be steep, and combined with all the other fees and the Value Added Tax charged on these fees, it will amount to at least 25% of each sale that comes through an ad. This will be on top of the free shipping to the USA that Etsy has demanded sellers worldwide must provide if we are to appear in the highly competitive search algorithm on Etsy.

I work with many other small makers and suppliers, trying to keep my sourcing accountable. They are hurting too, and some may go out of business altogether. Right now I’m trying to figure out how best to weather these challenges.

As a customer, I know none of this is your problem. I want to make and source beautiful things that tell a story, and this should be a joy for you to shop on my site. I want people to feel a connection with me as the maker and know that they are supporting a micro business. 

Good old days– this was my first Etsy banner, from almost ten years ago. Maybe some of you remember it!
We will weather this, I promise.

Etsy was once a genuine community of makers. In its rush to please share holders, Etsy management has forgotten who built the site and gave the brand its integrity. Etsy wasn’t always like this; it was not always a public company. I have been selling on the site for nine years, but have been a customer since its inception. I was dreaming about what I would do for my ten year Etsy shop anniversary next March, something I fear will not happen. This is not because of the chaos of COVID-19 but Etsy’s corporate greed, which makes it more heartbreaking. For almost a decade I have been connected with customers and other makers and many have become dear friends. In many ways I and sellers like me have been instrumental in building the trust in the Etsy brand, and now we are treated as expendable. There has been so much outcry about this and always Etsy’s answer is the same dismissive, cut and paste response. When Etsy sent out a bulletin saying how they were supporting makers during these challenging times, its number one offer was the “promise to roll out offsite ads”— something many sellers, perhaps the majority, do not want.

I plan to put my Etsy shop in “holiday (vacation) mode” for the foreseeable future.  I hold out hope that maybe things will change again at Etsy, making it a good place for small makers like myself.  In the meantime, please stick with me through these changes by continuing to come to feralstrumpet.co.uk, my independent shop, even if it is just to browse and look at pretty things. Beauty is useful. As I am always working to make this site the best it can be, I will be unveiling a new and improved shopping experience there very soon! I would love to know the kind of work you like to seeing from me. Let’s go into this new future together.

To All My Friends and Shop Supporters

These are uncertain times. I hope all my friends, shop supporters and customers are well and safe. I would like to say it’s business as usual at Feral HQ, but of course it isn’t. As we work from home and live in a somewhat remote, rural area, self-isolation is a norm. We have the luxury here to do this without much change, but some of my suppliers have been affected by the Shelter in Place Order in California. I collaborate with many other small makers and businesses and they are all affected. We are in this together. 

Like many of you, I am one of the vulnerable with multiple pre-existing, chronic conditions one of which is life-threatening asthma that is triggered by respiratory infections. I’m grateful to everyone who is self-isolating too. I know not everyone can. I think the terms “social distancing” and “self-isolating” might describe the physical reality of these actions but really they are deeply communal behaviours, protecting the weakest and most vulnerable. In the words of one of the many memes on the subject, “The one that stayed away saved the rest.” One of my friends said that it feels like the quietest general strike.

I love that. We are quietly striking for each other, for life. Things are coming up in the quiet, too: kindness and birdsong, the steely warmth of hope, the sun on the daffodils, new nettle shoots. Spring is here.

There are some big changes happening on Etsy where sadly corporate greed has finally taken over completely. Until I know how their new changes will affect sellers, I must put my Etsy shop on indefinite holiday mode, but everything will continue on feralstrumpet.co.uk. If you need a pleasant distraction of pretty things to look at, come on by. I’m making orders and photographing a lot of vintage I’ve recently sourced. I plan for regular shop updates to go out also because beauty is useful, always. What would you like to see from me?  What can I do to lighten these times a bit for you?

Please keep in touch– my customers and my shop supporters are my community!