This week, David Iwanow chats to Nicole Vanderbilt, the Etsy Country Manager for UK, Australia and Canada.
Can you please introduce yourself and how did you become involved with Etsy?
My name is Nicole Vanderbilt, and I joined Etsy back in September after spending two years running a UK-based internet startup in the home decor and interior design space. It was during this time that I learned about Etsy and watched it grow in the early stages. I’d always admired Etsy’s strong focus on the seller community and the incredible company culture born out of a unique combination of world class engineers and incredible creative talent. It was my first choice as the next place to work by quite a large margin. I count myself lucky daily that it worked out.
Your role is Country Director, can you explain exactly what that entails?
My role is to make our local in country teams successful, and we are very fortunate that our success and our sellers’ success is pretty much one and the same. More specifically, our country teams work on introducing Etsy to new buyers and sellers, ensuring that the site reflects the needs of the local market while maintaining its strength as a global platform, and supporting, educating and empowering our sellers. They are our biggest asset. A lot of times our job is give them what they need and get out of the way!
How do you stay on top of changes in trends and competitors? Do you prefer online or offline sources?
I think the key is to listen to our buyers and sellers. They are our best source of intel – what they want, what they need, what other things they are finding that they love and that help them run their business, enjoy what they do and make a difference to their lives.
Do you have any tips for readers who would love to work for or with Etsy? Via internships, partnerships, employees?
Get in touch, be creative, don’t assume that we have it all already figured out.
What is your favourite section/product on Etsy? What about it makes it #1 in your heart?
It’s impossible to choose just one. What I love about Etsy is that I can find things that make me laugh, that are beautiful, and that I can use every day. My current obsession is vintage French coffee cups. They seem to be the perfect size for the amount of coffee I need. And, for a while I couldn’t get enough of notebooks. I like finding small ways to make the every day a little less boring.
What is the best or most unique item you have found on Etsy that you had to have/share?
“Most unique” is a fierce fight on Etsy. I loved this when I discovered it because it made me giggle and remember a funny story about high school science class which I never thought would be captured in knit! And, I can barely get through a conversation with a female friend without trying to get her to consider buying a pair of these. The perfect ballet flat, made by a real person, from recycled/upcycled leather, at a good price. There are different colours and fabrics – a little something for everyone.
How does Australia market differ from other regions? Do we buy more products produced locally or globally?
Around the world on Etsy, we find a lot of cross-border purchases happening. It’s exciting to be on the first truly global marketplaces (even the big global Internet retailers mostly silo off each country and try to limit cross-country shopping). By contrast, we are thrilled to be able to help a Latvian rug maker reach customers around the world directly from her workshop and to help an Australian buyer find something from abroad that simply isn’t available locally. It’s good for the business and it’s great for the buyers and sellers involved.
Australia is a strong market for us on both the seller and buyer side. There’s a strong domestic market here and a strong cross-border trade. I think probably the biggest difference is that Australians seem to be even more accustomed to purchasing things from overseas than some of our other markets.
I was interested to discover Adam Savage of Mythbusters loves Etsy, what local celebrities do you know of that love Etsy?
What’s so great about Etsy is lots of different people love it – from Martha Stewart to Tavi to Adam Savage. Locally, we know Lisa Mitchell is a fan.
What recent social changes have you seen that you are excited about? Facebook Search Graph?
I’ll be a bit contrarian here. I am not that interested in more different types of search. Don’t get me wrong, I use Google as much as anyone else, and I am keen for search to work and work well. But, the gap remains in helping people who don’t know exactly know what they are looking for or how to put it into words. How do we help people find relevant inspiration and recreate the same experience that a gallery or boutique offers in the real world – where you can wander around visually, rather than just cutting straight to the chase? The social graph will be a part of this, but we are only really at the beginning.
What are some some home grown winners you think are doing Etsy right?
Australian has a very wide variety of fantastic sellers. Some businesses who are really taking advantage of Etsy’s global platform include wall decal designer lovemae.etsy.com, stationery team ableandgame.etsy.com, wedding accessory designer percyhandmade.etsy.com and homewares designer auntycookie.etsy.com.
Do you have any advice for Australians wanting to launch their products on Etsy? Types of products?
The great thing about Etsy is the wide variety of things that sell and sell well. Our biggest categories our things like jewellery, fashion, weddings and vintage, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t be successful selling a furniture, food, or toys.
The key to success is making your shop look great – the product photography, your shop banner, the way all the products look together on the page. Also ensuring that buyers can find you by using great product titles, tags and descriptions with words that people might use to search for your products.
Do you have anything exclusive to share with The Fetch readers on what is coming soon?
We will continue to support our sellers in becoming successful. We are constantly looking for ways we can make this process better and easier for buyers and sellers. So, nothing to announce at the moment but there is plenty in the works to help achieve these goals.
Editor’s note: We’re please to share Nicole will be joining us at our next dinner conversation for The Fetch Melbourne this month! Stay tuned for more events and news from creative companies and startups via http://thefetch.com.
About our Ambassador David Iwanow: David can be found working as a SEO Product Manager for Marktplaats.nl and 2dehands.be in Amsterdam. He is an avid traveler and publishes on TravelNetwork but he is also one of the folks behind the monthly SEO Meetups, which have almost 2,000 members across Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.You can also find him on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.