Artisanal storytelling

Handmade retailer Etsy has 300,000 artisans and is now valued at nearly $300 million. Although it’s an internet-based company, founder Rob Kalin believes his success is down to the oldest form of communication: storytelling.

‘It’s part of human nature to want to know where you buy from and what you’re buying,’ says Kalin. ‘I don’t think this is a trend, or a movement. This has always existed.’

Stories on Etsy are told in many ways, from product descriptions written by the artist to short video portraits that highlight a certain vendor. Whatever the format, these stories revive old marketplace values by making narratives accessible to online shoppers.