Excitement | Etsy Craft Entrepreneurship Program

Rockford Etsy Team Captain Kari McDonald, Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson, Mayor Larry Morrissey, and Rockford Housing Authority CEO Ron Clewer join forces.

Rockford Etsy Team Captain Kari McDonald, Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson, Mayor Larry Morrissey, and Rockford Housing Authority CEO Ron Clewer join forces – image via Etsy.com

Bill, 66, has been a woodworker in Rockford for most of his life - image via Etsy.com

Bill, 66, has been a woodworker in Rockford for most of his life. Click through to check out Bill’s creations. – image via Etsy.com

I’m super excited to share the news that Etsy’s Craft Entrepreneurship program has now gone global! Turning the tables to a focus on innovation through diversification, enabling new communities to unlock the potential of their craft and artisan manufacturing skills in a supportive environment.

I’ve long been a big fan of Etsy’s pioneering spirit in creating a marketplace for independent artists and designers to test the marketability of creative ideas. Unfortunately the flip side is that like many other creative industries, this consumer driven model creates a mass of swirling creativity, whereby the majority clusters in the centre, following a certain ‘fashion’ or trend, whilst the outliers spark brave new ideas on the edges of what is considered marketable or tasteful. In an effort to counteract this the Etsy blog has long taken a heartwarming, ‘behind the scenes’ approach to uncovering the processes of entrepreneurial minds, by asking each featured seller to write their own interviews. By the nature of a consumer market, those featured tend to be creatives whose brilliant idea often sets these trends for the time to come. This ‘chicken and egg’ cycle of trend maker / trend driver can lead to stagnation, if not for the odd outlier whose idea smashes through collective consciousness to reinvent the future of craft entrepreneurship.

The program is taught in six modules, by an experienced local Etsy seller over the course of two to six weeks, ensuring ensures information shared is both locally and globally relevant. Perhaps the program’s most brilliant aspect is the way the local and global elements work together to create a supportive environment for to break down of barriers to online success, such as hands on practice at running a .com shop and strategies for sucess over multiple platforms. As well as a local ‘teacher’/leader, each program is linked in with a local Etsy team, immediately creating a supportive network of familiar faces for feedback and advice after the program itself ends.

The Craft Entrepreneurship program is now running pilot programs in six cities in the US and UK, with inquiries open for educational programming and entrepreneurship training providers worldwide to join in the fun (get behind it Australia!).

The good news for all of us is that Etsy is staying true to it’s open source foundations, with all curriculum content and learnings from the pilot programs to be shared online with the world!

Jess Priemus is a fashion designer


Jess and her business partner/husband Shimul

Braid dress in baby blue and white applique

The ladies of the Thanapara Swallows Development Society’s handicraft section

The ladies of the Thanapara Swallows Development Society’s handicraft section

Who made your clothes? Is a question that many consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of, and a question interiors-cum-fashion designer Jess Priemus has a good answer to.

Bhalo is ethically manufactured clothing with an internationally minded aesthetic. In other words, Bhalo’s limited edition garments are ethical fashion that you actually want to wear (no offense to all the manufacturers of misshapen hemp coloured sacks out there).

 Jess and Shimul chose to name the label ‘Bhalo’ (‘good’ in Bengali ) to capture their intentions for the starting the label, with their designer/manager partnership certainly living up to this high standard.


Manufactured in Bangladesh, using natural hand woven textiles, printing and embroidery, Jess’ designs have found great balance in showcasing the best of ‘slow’ manufacturing techniques, whilst satisfying her designer’s drive to test new ideas in time, process, and the limitations of material. 

Bhalo is manufactured by the women of the Thanapara Swallows Development Society’s handicraft section, in Rajshahi, north-western Bangladesh, on the riverbank of the Padma (Ganges). The handicraft program at Thanapara is independently run and has 168 permanent producers. The organization is an internationally approved member of the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO), ECOTA Fair Trade Forum (Bangladesh), and Bangla Crafts.

Most importantly, the program assists many poor and underprivileged people, mostly women, by providing training and jobs, as well as a number of community programs. These programs include aiming to eradicating illiteracy, creating health awareness and self-employment, educating people about land rights, and empowering women by creating economic and social awareness towards a number of issues.

 Bhalo’s brand philosophy is to connect the wearer to the garment, establishing a connection and empowering our customers to know the origins of the clothes they are purchasing. This form of transparency is crucial to encouraging people to make ethical decisions towards the things that we acquire in our lives – clothing included. 


What is apparent, when you read Jess’ words, is that she and Shimul care deeply who makes your clothes, as well as what they’re made of. Jess’s passion for ‘slow’ concepts of time and lifestyle, innovation and building community are embedded in every fibre of Bhalo’s garments.

And to top it all off, Jess’s ‘kind of manifesto’, is a definite cut-out-and-keep gem for any ethically minded creative, no matter their chosen medium. 


Business:  Bhalo

Owner: Jess Priemus

Location: Perth, Western Australia

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Jenny Kulas is a leathersmith


Jenny setting up Klaus Goods at Menske, Collingwood. Image credit – Katie Goodwin

Klaus Goods is a Melbourne made handcrafted leather and canvas goods company. Jenny’s products stand out in the crowded accessories market by doing what is often the most difficult for any designer – stripping the product back to its most utilitarian state. Luckily for us, Jenny’s trained eye for aesthetic reduction compliment the timeless qualities of leather to create beautiful, highly functional objects of desire. This dynamo designer sure knows the way to an architect’s heart, as our recent catch up revealed influences of the Bauhaus, film and travel on the production of Klaus Goods.

Business:  Klaus Goods

Owner: Jenny Kulas

Location: Melbourne, Victoria and online 

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Best of ST&Co.

It’s Friday!

Click though to find the best bits of the week;

BUY: ByCharlie - stunning laser cut homewares and jewelery made in Melbourne

BUY: ByCharlie – stunning laser cut homewares and jewelery made in Melbourne

When I Grow Up I Want To Be... via Talina Edwards Architecture

READ | When I Grow Up I Want To Be… via Talina Edwards Architecture

How to Make Hard Choices : Ruth Chang  via TED.com

WATCH | How to Make Hard Choices : Ruth Chang via TED.com (video)

MAKE: DIY Ladder Wardrobe - by A Pair and A Spare  (aka major blog crush)

MAKE: DIY Ladder Wardrobe – by A Pair and A Spare DIY
(aka major blog crush)

And just in case you missed last week’s interview, catch up below ~

DEVOUR: Zoe Lea is a sock designer


Thanks to all my new followers and likers, Looking forward to bringing you an exciting interview next week!


Zoë Lea is a sock designer


Werken hard

Werken’ hard (image via Unempire Instagram)


Zoe Lea has a passion for high quality, stunning design that goes well beyond those small tube shaped things you put on your feet – this lady has big plans and a great creative ethos!  Unempire has a stand out online presence, and Small Talk & Co was super keen to meet Zoe in person to find out what drives this creative mind – community, fast fashion, and RiRi.  N: slight language warning


Business:  Unempire

Owner: Zoë Lea

Location: Melbourne, Victoria shipping to the world!


What you do?

I make socks through a teeny little business called Unempire. I’m hoping to branch out into other things in the near future, but baby steps right now. Before I did Unempire, I studied fashion design at TAFE and I worked for a bunch of other companies for nearly a decade, doing accessories design, accessories buying, and a bit of clothing and graphic design.

TAFE was great for technical skills in the fashion industry. In my first job, I was immediately useful; it was the same skills, the same programs. I learnt so much working for other people, because essentially you come out of study and you know so much, but you’ve got no idea what to do with it. My experience in accessories meant I knew my own business could be a success, so when I eventually became disillusioned with the bigger companies profit, profit, profit objective, I was confident in creating my own space to balance that out with a focus on design, quality and style.


Unempire merges all that experience with my total love/hate relationship with ‘fashion’, I hate trends and cookie cutter imitations, and I feel there’s just toooo much STUFF in the world. Unempire is about merging good design with quality apparel that lasts – I don’t think that you have to sacrifice one for the other.


Apparel can be reasonably priced, functional and unique. Essentially that’s the ethos behind the Unempire brand. It’s about bridging a gap in the current marketplace, which is dominated by three equally weak types; functional, but really boring, cheap and mediocre, or really cool looking but ultimately disposable.


Mmm croissants! Morning Tea Unempire style


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Sherise Fleming is a photographer

Self portrait


Sherise Fleming is in love with photography, and this passion is evident in her stunning images – capturing the love between family, friends, partners and pets. But loving your subject is nothing without a love for the process of what you do – Sherise is in love with the no-day-is-ever-the-same reality of being your own boss, and the ultimate challenge of being creative for a living. This very humble and talented entrepreneur divides her time between Gippsland and Melbourne, photographing all the best bits of lives well lived.


Fast facts

Business:  Sherise Fleming | Photographer

Location: Gippsland and Melbourne, Victoria


What you do?

I am a photographer. I started my photography career working in the commercial sector , but now focus my creative energy on capturing beautiful families and documenting weddings. I am based in Melbourne but travel all over for work, and especially love getting back to my home town in Gippsland, so I market myself in this area too. 

In love – an engagement shoot in Melbourne CBD

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