I spent Monday and Tuesday at the Etsy Summit here in Toronto. Along with some of my fellow team captains and leaders from across the country, Etsy staff and guests, we've been planning the (anxiously awaited) follow-up to our amazing Etsy: Made in Canada show! It was such an astonishing success, we're going to try to make it a yearly event. Saturday, September 26th, the Toronto Etsy Street Team and 416Hustlers are planning to do it again, at MaRS. There will also be many more simultaneous shows from coast to coast to coast!
Besides meeting like-minded makers, sellers and leaders, we had a chance to really learn from everyone else's experience. We started with a bit of fun. The icebreaker challenged each table of participants to represent Canada using a bag of random craft items and items our peers had brought with them from their various home. Our diorama was the only one with an actual electrical circuit.... how could I resist? We had a PEI potato, wire, pliers and tape. In case you can't tell the first photo is supposed to be Celine (as wonder woman with balloons) and Cirque de Soleil acrobats (and former Olympians) preforming on a stage. It's a conceptual piece. Other hilarious and creative contributions included everything from maps of provinces, woodland and winter scenes, jewellery from artifacts, Niagara Falls, to wearable hats!
Some of the highlights included talks from our peers. The tireless powerhouse from WEST (the Winnipeg Etsy Street Team), Ruth Schulz Smith shared her Event Management expertise and enthusiasm. It's no coincidence she won the only award, having been nominated by her peers. Jessika Hepburn, one of the Halifax leaders and creator of Oh My Handmade! gave an amazing talk about community building and working with partners big and small. I don't want to sound corny, but it was really inspiring. One of my neighbours said she felt her mind so teeming with ideas that she couldn't sleep. As a group, we are consciously coming from the vantage of the handmade movement; we all want to grow our small businesses, but we are also fostering an economy that values the artists, designers, the handmade, the local, the eco-friendly, the repurposed or vintage treasures over the mass produced. All of the captains and leaders volunteer their time for their teams, and are working to make things easier for all of these handmakers and vintage sellers to run their businesses and maybe even make a life from what they love. Maybe it isn't surprising that they had such interesting things to say about community, partnerships and creative businesses working to improve their corners of the world.