Is it really a unicorn?


Probably like you, I am in quite a few fiber related Facebook groups.  FiberCrafty has been popping up recently in a couple of posts, which of course got my attention. In one thread I saw someone refer to it as a unicorn!  I have to admit, that is a pretty flattering comment and made me blush a little.  

One post in particular caught my attention.

Let's talk FiberCrafty.

Do you all think it is really the replacement for Etsy we're all hoping for? I opened my shop as a hobby shop but I'm looking to move more toward making a real go at this. I was paying for ads with Etsy so my shop fees were running $100 a month and that just feels like far too much to pay for a not super busy shop.

I know I'll have to do more legwork on my own to get people to my page, which is fine with me. I'm just wondering if anyone is having success with FC?

This is, of course, what everyone is wondering and it was an opportunity for me to be very candid with my thoughts and dreams about FiberCrafty. It seemed like a post and response worth sharing so I am, with the permission of the original poster, publishing it on my blog.

A couple of notes: I am being real and baring my soul. If you have comments or feedback, please share but remember that I am a human putting myself out there. If you have constructive criticism, please share! I am all for it because I believe that together, we are more powerful. A criticism is less meaningful without suggestions for change so please share any thoughts you have for change.  One final note, I don’t like comparing myself to Etsy though it seems a logical thought process.  It is hard to compare a 12 year old, $200 million organization to little ol’ FiberCrafty.  

And now… my response:

Hi! I'm the owner of FiberCrafty and thought I would weigh in on this. My opinion will be slightly biased but hopefully fair and will provide insight into my thoughts and vision. :-)

Yes, I believe that this is the replacement we are looking for, however, it will only be so if people make it so. The very idea of this is dependent upon shops opening, adding products and people shopping. If everyone "waits and sees", it will be a steeper climb and will take much longer to get there. FiberCrafty launched mid-May so we have only been around a little more than 2 months. From my perspective, there are a lot of people paying attention in a very short amount of time.

Regarding putting in legwork for your business, I have two thoughts... One... It is your business. Every business owner should be putting in that legwork no matter where you are selling. That is what separates your brand from others. Two... When FiberCrafty shop owners put in legwork, they are lifting EVERYONE that has a shop on FiberCrafty. Not only are they building their own brand, but they are also promoting FiberCrafty and, indirectly, all the other open shops. There is much less of that "rising tide" impact on a site as bloated as Etsy.

What sets FiberCrafty apart from Etsy (and other platforms)? - me, the owner. I am a knitter and spinner and I love this craft and community. When you have an idea, request, problem you have a direct line of contact. - FiberCrafty is not what it will be in a few years. Why? Because I want the feedback, ideas and suggestions to improve and grow the site and make it what the community wants and needs. I don't think I have all the answers myself. I will look for them from our users. We had to start somewhere and we think it was a pretty good start. - Supporting FiberCrafty is supporting small business, just like yours. - Since I am not a corporation, I don't have special interests and I don't have investors. My goal is to have a small business doing something I love for the community I love, and I don't have any desire to gouge small business owners. I know you have slim margins. - Also since I am not a corporation, I started with less and had to make tough choices about what to include or set aside for a future phase. I made choices based on what, as a knitter and spinner, I wanted to see in a new platform. I tried to put the development into the functionality.

I spent a lot of time (2 years!) and have a significant investment backing up my belief in the need for this. Is there room for improvement? Of course. There probably always will be. I have been in the software industry for 20 years and you are never done. However, we worked hard to start with a pretty robust site with some capabilities that are unique, fiber specific and provide value to the shop owners and users.

FiberCrafty shops are having varying amounts of success. Those that have great photos and descriptions AND do legwork are having more than others. We launched in May which is when the entire industry slows down. People are still learning about FiberCrafty. We only have about 500 products listed. That's a lot but not really. We need a LOT more so that when a shopper starts clicking, they find THAT SKEIN (or braid, or or or) - the one that speaks to them. Again, that is part of the rising tide of lifting everyone.

I hope this helps with understanding my thoughts and perspective. If this resonates with you, I hope that you will jump on board and don't hesitate if you have any questions at all! Thank you for reading this lengthy post!

By the way - the person that posted this did decide to join the rising tide and she opened a FiberCrafty shop. If you are on the fence, I hope that you will too!

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