Hand-dipped candles, illustrated wedding invitations and watercolored family portraits are just a few examples of how college students earn extra money using Etsy.
Etsy.com, founded in 2005, is currently the largest online marketplace for handmade items. With more than 40 million members, more than 1 million shops and 26 million items listed, Etsy enables people all over the world to buy and sell one-of-a-kind products, according to its website.
Etsy has not only helped shoppers find products that they can’t find anywhere else, but it has also helped college students express their creativity and start their own small businesses.
Talor Cunningham, a junior studying political science, started her Etsy shop, Northbound Candles, when she found herself burdened with the cost of tuition, rent and an upcoming wedding.
“My fiancé bought me a candle-making kit for my birthday, so I started learning, and then I realized that I could actually save money by making my own candles,” Cunningham said. “I didn’t consider making it a business until I saw that Etsy could make it possible.”
Cunningham’s store is based on going back to the basics and delivering “happiness and handmade quality over machine quantity.”
“We promise that every candle will be different than something you buy at the popular stores at the mall,” Cunningham said. “I got so caught up in the business of school and money that I wasn’t doing anything for myself. I promised that I would make things that make me happy and could potentially make others happy.”
Students turn their hobbies into extra cash using Etsy. Kiersten Truley Hansen, a senior majoring in studio arts, uses her love for watercolor painting to create custom family portraits. Hansen’s shop, Truley Me, is inspired by fairy tales, seen in all of her portraits.
“I wanted a cheap and cute way to decorate my boring apartment, so I took inspiration from family photos, quotes and Pinterest and decided to make watercolors out of them,” Hansen said. “I couldn’t find anything I liked that was in my price range at the store, so I thought I would make the decorations myself.”
When Hansen’s friends saw the paintings, they immediately asked for portraits of their own. Hansen completes at least one portrait a week.
Hansen feels like Etsy transformed her creativity into something more worthwhile and fulfilling.
“The Etsy community is full of wonderful people with so many ideas to share,” Hansen said. “It’s simple, and all you have to do is find something you enjoy making and do it.”
Esty benefits don’t end at selling homemade goods; students save money buying items on Etsy too. Amber Dukes, a senior studying international relations, bought her wedding invitations and bridesmaid accessories on Etsy.
“Sometimes you can’t find what you are looking for, ” Dukes said. “On Etsy you can not only find special items that no one else has, but you can feel good about supporting extremely talented individuals. They really provide great service and quality products.”
Students can both cultivate creativity and save money using Etsy. Hansen encourages college students to use their talents in new ways.
“Anyone with a creative idea who can make something with quality out of it can find a profit on Etsy,” Hansen said.