Have you been reading the on-going debate about Craftsy and their (possible) decision to release a privately owned fabric and/or yarn line? People are getting a bit heated about this and I am curious what you think. I am a loyal follower of Abby Glassenberg, blogger at While She Naps. Abby has built a successful blog, has a fantastic weekly newsletter and a lovely Etsy shop where she sells patterns to make childrens’ stuffed toys. She inspires me and I have learned a huge amount from her informative newsletters. (If you haven’t checked out her blog and newsletters, I highly recommend both.)
Last week she blogged about the fact that Craftsy has registered two new trademarks to (possibly) begin manufacturing and selling a line of fabric and a line of yarn. Because Craftsy has such a huge customer base, they sell a great deal of fabric and supplies at below retail pricing. People are in somewhat of an uproar because they are upset about yet another bigbox retailer squashing the smaller retailers. After Abby’s post, in which Craftsy declined to comment, there was a bit of conversation – most of it on the negative side. However, much of the arguments commented on this post centered around Craftsy’s treatment of pattern designers and teachers. I am not going to go into the specifics because Abby laid it out clearly in her post already.
My opinion is this. We live in a world of huge on-line retailing. Amazon and the like make it nearly impossible for smaller brick and mortar shops to compete. This makes it a big struggle for those shops to be profitable. I am a frequent on-line shopper (Craftsy included) and also a loyal supporter of my local quilt shop. There are benefits to each. With on-line shopping, I don’t have to make the twenty mile round trip to the LQS and can shop whenever I want. With on-line shopping, I usually get a good deal on fabric but there is a price to be paid for shipping. At my LQS, I can touch the fabric and get a better look at the colorways. I have a really hard time with color – it isn’t my strong suit and I have purchased on-line several times, only to be disappointed that the colors weren’t what I thought they would be. The added benefit of expertise, advice and a social experience offered at the LQS is not to be matched by shopping somewhere like Craftsy. There is a place for both in my fabric budget (and it is entirely possible the budget needs to be reduced!)
As far as pattern designers and paid bloggers, I am of the opinion they should work for a fair wage. If a corporation such as Craftsy or Moda (think Moda Bakeshop) isn’t offering a fair wage, don’t take them up on the opportunities offered. It is the decision of the designer. Personally, I love the patterns that are individually designed and offered on Craftsy. Many a quilt blogger/designer has their paid and free patterns posted on Craftsy which provides some exposure for the designer and a huge benefit to us, the crafting community, But again, if the designer doesn’t think the pay is commensurate, don’t go there.
In response to all of this hub bub, John Levisay, CEO of Craftsy, wrote an open letter to Abby for our community of makers. You can read it here. Nothing earth shattering is contained in his response. It is what I might write, were I in his position. They are a large, for profit, corporation. They sells on-line classes, patterns and supplies – for PROFIT. Just as Amazon, Jo-Ann Fabrics, and Fabric.com aren’t overly concerned about the profitability of the brick and mortar shops, I don’t think Craftsy is terribly worried. Is this the right thing? Who knows. It isn’t really a question of right and wrong to me. It is just the way things are and will continue to be. Overall, I thought the letter was respectful and it made sense to me. Things are forever changing as the world of technology grows and allows businesses to develop in new ways.
Finally, this is the first time I have written a post without pictures. Kind of strange so I am going to add one here for your viewing enjoyment!! What a huge mess. I have decided that it is time to clean this place up. My sewing room has become a huge disaster. Like beyond ridiculous. OK – how about you? Do you take issue with the Craftsy decision to market their own lines? Should they be able to sell below retail? Do I have to clean my room? Is your room messier than mine? Is a blog post without pictures acceptable? Do tell.
Have a wonderfully creative day all. 🙂