Finding Your Designer/Maker Tribe - Etsy Style

Finding Your Designer/Maker Tribe - Etsy Style

Tea, cake and chatter with the Somerset Etsy Team

Being a creative, small business owner can have great benefits, including choosing your own working hours, doing a job that you actually love and being free to pursue whichever creative direction you desire. However, at times it can be very tiring and stressful to the point of burn out during the busy periods. One of the most reoccurring comments that I saw during this years #Marchmeetthemaker was that it was quite lonely running your business on your own and that friends and family just didn’t get it. It’s this type of feeling that makes it all the more important that you search out your tribe, whether that’s in the form of facebook groups, finding friends in people on Instagram or joining a local etsy team or craft group.

Until October 2016 I was working a full time job and running a small business. Between them, they took over my life and I didn’t have time to be sociable. I had my online tribe of designer makers I made good friends with through NOTHS and Facebook groups, but it’s not the same as seeing actual real life people. At the end of September I left my job and moved to a new area where I didn’t have any friends. It was at this point I set up the Somerset Etsy Team. The purpose at the time was to find new people who were local and who I could forge new friendships with. However, it turned out to be a lot more than that...

What is an Etsy Team?

An Etsy Team is a community group who have come together with a common interest, selling on etsy being the main one but there can be further sub categories such as location, marketing, product type etc, the list goes on. Each team has their own forum within the Etsy page where discussions can take place and connections are made. A lot of teams also have their own private facebook groups as this is much easier than remembering to check the forum page. Sellers run these teams on a voluntary basis and are not employees of Etsy. They're just normal people like you and me. Each team generally has one team captain, but the captain can also appoint team leaders to help them run the team, do specific tasks or just to support the captain in anyway possible.

This is me, the team captain of the Somerset Etsy Team when I was sent to Italy to attend the European Captains Summit. In the background you can see the Bristol team Captain, Ellie, casually photobombing! 

Joanne Hawker visiting Italy for the Etsy European Captains Summit.

Why should you join one?

Etsy teams are little communities in their own right. They are groups of friendly, like-minded people who are all trying to make a living doing what they love to do most. Quite often, these people are all in the same boat, part time, full time, juggling small children and a business etc. Chances are, you are going to have a lot in common with these people.

Selling on Etsy can be frustrating at times, especially if you think you’ve nailed the photography, tags and titles and all that comes with it, but if you can share these frustrations with people who get it then you might just find a solution to your problem. Teams are a fantastic source of help, advice and recommendations.

We don't just sit around drinking tea, we have themed chats, including shop critiques and help with product development. 

A pinterest themed worksheet at a Somerset Etsy Team meet up

Teams are also a great place for skill sharing. For example, if you do a lot of work in textiles and don’t use digital design programs like Adobe Photoshop often, then I’m sure you’ll find someone within the group who would be more than happy to help you or swap their skills for a little bit of help with something that you’re a whizz at. Or maybe you want to expand into a new market and need some help making up some samples, or you need a new logo or a graphic designed or maybe you just want a little bit of feedback. Meet ups are another great place to swap skills, advice, and share hints and tips.

Most teams will have meet ups, whether it’s once a month, once a fortnight or every so often. These are a great place to go and actually chat with people who completely get it. I understand that it can be hugely daunting at first, but I can assure you, it’s absolutely worth it. If you’re a really shy person and are worried about attending, please do message your local captain (I’m sure they won’t mind) and ask if they can pair you with someone who can meet you before the event so you’ve made at least one connection and don’t have to walk through the door on your own. It’s important that these meet ups are accessible for everyone. I’ve made solid friendships with a couple of people out of my team and it’s quite possibly one of the best decisions I’ve made.

Etsy notebook and other goodies

How do I find a team?

If this sounds like this could be the thing for you the lovely Rachel from the Dorset Etsy Team has put together a list of location based teams and I’ve added in a couple more too.


Birmingham Ideas

Birmingham Originals


Bristol -







Glasgow (Glasgow Team also accept Etsy sellers from across Scotland)




Isle of Wight



Leeds -


London Local -





New Forest



Portsmouth and Southsea




South East England

South Cheshire


UK - Craft Britannia

UK and Ireland



If you’re looking for something that isn’t listed here (this isn’t a complete list of teams!) then it’s really easy to search. Let me tell you how.

1. Go to and scroll right to the very bottom of the page.

2. There are five columns of links and under the heading of ‘join the community’ is a heading for ‘teams’. Click it.

3. Here you will find any teams that you’re already a part of or where you can search for more. There is a little search box that says ‘search for teams’ inside it. Use this to find the sort of team you're looking for whether it is location or craft based etc.

4. If you can’t find what you’re looking for then why not create your own team like I did and use Etsy’s product search function to discover sellers near you and invite them to join you in a team. If you find that a team you want to join is inactive, before making a new team, send them a message to see if they want any help in reviving it or to make sure that they aren’t active elsewhere, like on Facebook for example. You don’t want to tread on anyone’s toes.

Don’t just take my word for how great these little communities are. Here are a few comments from the Somerset Etsy Team:

Charlie – Stitchsperation

“I love meeting people in the same boat (or at least a similar one) as me, who understand the struggles of running your own creative business. Having other creatives to bounce ideas off is invaluable. It's always good to find your 'tribe'”

Tamsyn – Maid of Glass

“Like Charlie said, it's a brilliant opportunity to meet others who understand what you're doing and have a similar mindset. It's also great to be able to share Etsy tips and tricks with others and be able to help each other out and benefit from each other's strengths.”

Jess – Jessica Scissorhands

“It also brings together people who although have very different businesses are reunited under the 'Etsy' tag if that makes sense! Because of this the advice and tips are so wide and varied from many different points of view.”

Jo - Adventures and Tea Parties

"Finding the Somerset Etsy Team is the best thing that could have happened to me. Being new to the county and hardly knowing a soul, I joined thinking it would be nice to chat about running a handmade business and well, to have some people contact. But, it's been so much more than that. Not only have I made some very dear friends but I've found a creative tribe that I feel so completely connected to and as a naturally shy person, being with super friendly, likeminded people has made me feel so at ease with everyone in the team that I literally hop up and down with excitement when it's meet up time! I can't recommend enough the value of joining a local team and will be telling everyone I meet who's on Etsy to find their local tribe too."

If you've already found your tribe then amazing, if not, good luck and I really hope that this helped!

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