September 22, 2011

Have you ever heard of Etsy? After a tour of the company’s corporate headquarters in Brooklyn, I have much more hope that great jobs are possible — if we can create them for ourselves. Wait ’til you see my photos!

But first some background. Etsy was founded six years ago by Rob Kalin. He was a 20-something painter, carpenter and photographer who needed a way to market himself. So he made a little website to post little photos of his work. Then, the site exploded.

Today, is a gorgeous online showcase for some 10 million items made by artists, do-it-yourself people and sellers of vintage goods. Every month, more than 25 million people visit the site, racking up 1 billion in page views, according to the company. In 2010, Etsy moved a record $314.3 million in mostly-handcrafted merchandise.

The corporation operates out of a rambling industrial loft building in the Brooklyn neighborhood of DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). Back in the old days, this area was a dump. Now, there are art galleries, boutiques, beautiful parks, funky restaurants and — Etsy’s global headquarters, which was rated one of the “World’s Top 10 Coolest Offices” by

Some 200 employees work here. The room is filled with handmade products bought on There’s everything from kooky lamps and pillows to vintage curtains and hand-made furniture. This is my idea of a corporate culture.


Etsy is at 55 Washington St., right near this sweeping view of the Manhattan Bridge. So beautiful. The youngish employes have a strong bike culture. Many of them pedal to work. Etsy’s in such an arts-y neighborhood.


An artist is busy crocheting custom covers for the overhead office vents. You can also park your bike inside the office. And employees get lab coats they can wear when they’re creating craft projects of their own.


I wouldn’t mind living at Etsy. Twice a week, local chefs are hired to cook meals in the kitchen. Everyone gets to eat FOR FREE. I also loved all the oddities hanging on the walls — is this a moose? And check out this great room for meetings! As for the floor, it’s “repurposed” wood salvaged from an old cabin.


Etsy Labs is located at headquarters. It’s a place where ANYONE can go to create new projects on designated nights. Just sign up on a first-come, first-served basis. Bernina sewing machines are provided. So are some materials (but you can bring your own). There’s also silk screening equipment.

Well, are you impressssed? Of course, no workplace is perfect. Hey, it’s still work! Plus, e-commerce is a hyper-cutthroat world and Etsy’s a young company in a high-pressure growth stage. (Note: Founder Rob Kalin has just left Etsy.)

But visiting Etsy raised the bar for me. From now on, I am totally committed to believing that employment should be fulfilling, exciting and fun — even during this national tragedy that we officially call “the economy.” (And when things get stale, get moving! As a friend of mine says, “My real job is looking for the next job.”)

These photos were taken during my tour of Etsy in August. No matter what, they will always make me smile.

Before I go, here are some useful links: