Using Etsy Manufacturing to Find Production Partners

By Kate Shoup, Allison Strine, Kate Gatski

Maybe hiring a few employees for your Etsy business isn’t gonna cut it. Maybe that shout-out from Kendall Jenner means you need even more help. In that case, you’ll want to look into Etsy Manufacturing.

Etsy Manufacturing is a little bit like Tinder — but instead of helping you meet people who bear no resemblance whatsoever to their profile pictures, it hooks you up with a production partner who can help you grow your business.

Before you use Etsy Manufacturing to connect with prospective production partners, Etsy recommends that you complete a couple of important steps:

  • Take stock. Make sure your business, concept, and initial designs are really and truly ready for production. That means answering a few tough questions:
    • Do you already make (or are you thinking of making) a product that may lend itself to manufacture by an outside party?
    • Do you know what processes and machinery are needed to meet your manufacturing needs?
    • Do you have the technical skills to communicate your designs to a manufacturer?
    • Have you decided what types of materials to use for your designs?
    • What types of quantities are you after?
    • Do you have the cash flow to pay a manufacturer upfront?
  • Build a budget. Figure out whether your profit margin can absorb manufacturing-related costs.

Next up: research. Here you use Etsy Manufacturing to pinpoint prospective producers and pair up with your perfect partner. Follow these steps:

  1. Click the Shop Manager link that appears along the top of every Etsy Marketplace page.
  2. On the left side of the Shop Manager page, click Production Assistance. Then choose Find a Partner in the list of options that appears.

    The Etsy Manufacturing page opens.

    etsy-mftg
    Source: Etsy.com

    Get started with Etsy Manufacturing.

  3. Click a category.

    Options include Apparel and Textile, Machining and Fabrication, Jewelry and Metalsmithing, and Printing.

    A category-specific page opens to help you narrow your focus. Each of these pages contains two main sections: Capabilities (which is further subdivided into Process, Materials, and Products sections) and Production Partner Location.

    etsy-narrow-focus
    Source: Etsy.com

    Use the options on this page to narrow your focus.

  4. In the Capabilities section, select at least one process, material, and product.
  5. In the Production Partner Location section, specify where you want your production partner to be located (or choose Anywhere).
  6. Click See Results.

    As shown here, Etsy displays a list of manufacturers that meet your criteria. (For the moment, these are limited to manufacturers in the United States and Canada.)

    etsy-businesses
    Source: Etsy.com

    Etsy displays a list of businesses that match your criteria.

    Some manufacturers offer development services. That is, they work with Etsy sellers like you to standardize the specifications for your product.

  7. Click a manufacturer in the list of results to find out more about it.
  8. If you like what you see, click the Contact Manufacturer button on the business’s page.

    A contact form opens.

    etsy-contact
    Source: Etsy.com

    Fill out the contact form.

  9. Fill in the requested info (including a description, photos or sketches, what you need help with, what you already have, how many you need, how much you want to spend, when you need the finished product, and any notes you want to add) and click Submit.

    Etsy creates a “project” from the information you submitted and forwards it to the manufacturer. You can access this project anytime by opening Shop Manager, clicking the Production Assistance link, and choosing Manage Projects.

Don’t just “swipe right” on the first manufacturer you find. Contact several to see which ones can meet your needs, offer the best terms on your project, and have received positive feedback from other Etsy sellers. Also, before you and a prospective partner say “I do,” have them do a sample run of your product. And, to be 100 percent sure they’re the right fit, it doesn’t hurt to conduct an on-site visit.

As with shop members, Etsy asks that you disclose any production partners you use. This information will appear on your shop’s About page as well as in listings for any items the production partner helped to create. First, however, you must build a production partner profile for each of your production partners. Here’s how:

  1. Click the Shop Manager link that appears along the top of every Etsy Marketplace page.
  2. On the left side of the Shop Manager page, click Settings. Then choose Production Partners.

    The Production Partners page appears.

  3. Click the Add a New Production Partner button.

    An Add a New Production Partner form appears.

    etsy-partner
    Source: Etsy.com

    Create a production partner profile.

  4. Enter your production partner’s name and location and say a little bit about it.
  5. Indicate why you are working with this production partner, what your role in the design process is, and what your partner’s role in the production process is. Then click Save Partner.

    Etsy saves the production profile.

To add this production profile to an existing item listing, follow these steps:

  1. Click the Shop Manager link that appears along the top of every Etsy Marketplace page.
  2. On the left side of the Shop Manager page, click Listings.

    The Listings page appears.
  3. Click the check box for each listing to which you want to apply the production partner profile.
  4. Click the More Options button and choose Production Partners.

    etsy-more-actions
    Source: Etsy.com

    Click the More Actions button and choose Production Partners.

    The Update Production Partners dialog box opens.

    etsy-update-partners
    Source: Etsy.com

    The Update Production Partners dialog box.

  5. Click the check box next to the production partner you want to add and click Update.

    Etsy adds the production partner profile to the selected listing(s).

    etsy-adds-partner
    Source: Etsy.com

    Etsy adds the production partner profile to the selected listing(s).

Adding a production partner to a new listing is even easier. As you create the listing, open the Who Made It drop-down list and choose Another Company. You will then be prompted to select the production partner profile (or create a new profile) to add it to your listing.

If you work with multiple production partners, you should create a profile for each one.

You aren’t limited to working with manufacturers that Etsy suggests. You can work with any manufacturer you like — if they meet certain ethical criteria. First, the manufacturer must be in compliance with all applicable laws, including safety, labor, and employment laws. In addition, manufacturers should

  • Not employ child labor or youth labor
  • Not employ involuntary labor
  • Not engage in discriminatory practices
  • Provide humane working conditions
  • Use sustainable materials to reduce environmental impact