How Etsy built a nearly $14 billion handmade empire

Etsy's $14 billion handmade empire
Etsy's $14 billion handmade empire

If it's handmade or over 20 years old, there's a good chance you can find it on Etsy, the go-to online marketplace for handcrafted and vintage goods.

On Etsy, you can buy everything from a Barack Obama-scented candle to a vintage Fleetwood Mac T-shirt and a Nantucket farmhouse coffee table with tapered legs.

At any given moment there are about 65 million items for sale on the site, and a whopping 83% of the sellers are women.

The company prides itself on being a place where independent creators are free to experiment with products and form real connections with buyers. Trends often start on Etsy — be it slime, sloths or unicorn merch — and there are endless opportunities for customization.

Etsy's growth has been staggering. When it launched in 2005 and sold its first item (a Flamingo print zip pouch for $8), the retailer reported $1 million in gross merchandise sales. By 2019, Etsy says that number had grown to $5 billion.

But the company has also gone through a massive evolution as it transitioned from a private business to a publicly traded behemoth with a nearly $14 billion market cap, with all the pressure that comes with quarterly earning reports.

How did Etsy become so popular with both sellers and customers? Watch the video above to learn how it went from start-up to cultural phenomenon. 

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