This is a slightly modified version of my Etsy last lecture, given September 9, 2019 during my last week at Etsy. Last lectures are an (optional) Etsy tradition in which departing employees share parting wisdom with their coworkers. There aren’t really any rules, prescribed topics, or required levels of polish for a last lecture; it’s up to the lecturer to decide what they think is important to share during their hour. I decided to share some raw thoughts about dealing with challenges, and thought I’d share it here with you.
Catt Small and I recently did an interview with InVision for their interview series Inside Design. We spoke about what it was like designing for Etsy’s buyers and sellers and our design team culture. We also had a super fun photoshoot slash brainstorming session with our design teammates in Brooklyn Bridge Park!
At Etsy, some of the most interesting (and most difficult!) challenges we face as a design team don’t always have a clear or obvious owner. Our initiatives can span multiple product teams or even multiple disciplines. Without a dedicated team of people solving these problems, they’re easy to ignore.
I had the honor of writing an article for A List Apart on the role research can play as we make our way through the design process. I had been reading A List Apart and referencing it since the earliest days that I was building websites, so this opportunity was especially exciting to me!
This past April I spoke at Industry Conf in Newcastle upon Tyne, United Kingdom. Industry Conf covers practical topics about the web, ranging from research to design to backend development.
Today we launched a huge redesign of Etsy’s seller tools that was the culmination of over a year’s worth of work (more on this later). I contributed to a post on Code as Craft, Etsy’s engineering blog, on some of the interesting technical challenges we faced and what happens when you have a blank canvas with which to work.
Pricing your work is hard. Whether you’re a freelancer or you sell handmade goods, putting a value on something you’ve created is tough. It requires balancing a competitive rate with paying yourself what your time is worth, and for many people (myself included), it’s easy to undervalue your time.
Part of Etsy culture is blameless post-mortems. It’s a term I’ve heard used a lot and up until last week I thought I thoroughly understood. Etsy supports an environment of learning, people make mistakes, don’t point fingers, etc. All good things and things I believe in.
My first job in high school was at a small store in the Washington DC-area called Appalachian Spring where I sold jewelry, pottery, glass, and other crafts made by American artists. It’s at Appalachian Spring where I developed a passion for all things handmade. I credit my time there (among other sources) with my desire to support artists, which brought me to New York to work at Kickstarter over two years ago.