The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

March 7, 2014

Ottumwans taking their small businesses global

OTTUMWA — Usually people think of major industries as global businesses. Several Ottumwans are changing that point of view without ever leaving southeast Iowa.

The Etsy website gives small, artsy, often home-based businesses a platform to sell their wares. While the artisan is responsible for listing their own items on a personalized page, Etsy provides the opportunity to sell in a national and global marketplace.

Many local crafters have found that this is the place for them to sell, buy and build relationships with people they never would never have the chance to meet otherwise. And they all agree that Etsy has been an outlet to share their crafts in a user-friendly environment.

• Monica McWilliams began SeptemburGurl in early 2012. She's always been into crafting and reusing items that would normally be thrown out. Selling on Etsy was the perfect way for her to share her creations with a wider audience than she could have by starting a brick-and-mortar store.

"I make more than I can use myself, and I'd seen Etsy advertised all over. I thought that maybe I could sell some things there," she said.

McWilliams says that is was incredibly easy to set up a shop, and the website's creators offer helpful guides to get started and grow your business.

"My shop is pretty eclectic. I like to recycle, so there's crocheted rag rugs, bowls made out of old vinyl records," she said. "It's neat to make something pretty out of something that would have been thrown away. I'm keeping them out of the landfill."

Being visible on the Internet has also allowed her to connect with people across the country, which she knows she couldn't have done without her Etsy shop. The vinyl record bowls in her shop attracted the attention of someone from the East Coast.

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