Milliners, Etsy and the Category Problem


Millinery Operations with Kristin Silverman

I’m going in a different direction today. I’m getting political, in a hat-centric way.

As it says in my bio, I’m an Etsy seller. I’ve been an Etsy seller for a very long time. I’m also captain to a group of Etsy milliners that number over 500. I say this a lot, I know, but in this case I kind of want to make sure that my level of experience with Etsy is right up front. It is my primary storefront..

We milliners have been begging for additions to the categories for years. We have sent email campaigns. We have done online petitions. We have sent humans into Etsy HQ to try to get additions to the categories so that we can be found. If we can’t be found, we can’t sell our goods. And neither we nor Etsy makes that sale.

Here is the current list, a screenshot of a part of Etsy.com.

Etsy Categories

Try to fit a fedora like this in there. Where does it go?

Sinatra Fedora

 

How about a top hat? Made of silk?

silk top hat

 

A cowboy hat? For girls?

marilyn monroe cowboy hat

 

A straw hat?

annex_-_hepburn_audrey_breakfast_at_tiffanys_09

 

A bowler?

Charlie-Chaplin_l

 

Or a hat for the races?

My Fair Lady Audrey Hepburn

 

There are no categories here for classic hat styles or millinery techniques. I understand that coming up with a really coherent list of what we want these categories to be is difficult. There are over 500 milliners in my group alone and hundreds more that haven’t found us yet. We don’t all have the same names for things. Say “trilby” in the US and people look at you like you’re loopy. But if there are so many milliners, not knitters, that means too that there are this many artists making hats that are getting lost. That’s a lot of people to be alienating.

There are words that we can agree on. We could simply add the word “millinery” to bring discerning customers to our way of working. I know that word tends to be mysterious, but it is what we do. 

We could add “felt” and “straw” to bring customers away from things that are knitted or crocheted. Basic shapes that women and men have been wearing for centuries and recognize immediately. There are humans looking for fedoras. That’s a great word to put in the categories.

Off the top of my head, and scanning my house:
Bowler, Porkpie, Top Hat, Homburg, Veil, Cocktail Hat, Panama, Beret….. 

Help me add to this list in the comments, please, so we have something concrete we can present.

But more importantly, help us get Etsy to listen. After all of our efforts we have been utterly ignored. In this post I’m bringing a problem from behind closed doors out into the light. Etsy isn’t terribly fond of light, but maybe in doing so we can get their attention and get a response. Any response. Tell us why this is hard. Tell us why you can’t do it. Or better yet, help us get this done.

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Emily Moe is a milliner who, since 2007, has slowly been taking over the world of Millinery and captains the Milliners of Etsy, a collective of artistan hat-makers from around the world. She lives with her husband in Minnesota and gets up to all kinds of creative mischief.


Emily Moe

Emily Moe

Milliner, millinery instructor at Moe Sew Co
Emily Moe is a milliner who, since 2007, has slowly been taking over the world of Millinery and captains the Milliners of Etsy, a collective of artistan hat-makers from around the world. She lives with her husband in Minnesota and gets up to all kinds of creative mischief.
Emily Moe

@emilymoesewco

obsessed with knowing how, milliner, piano teacher, lover of Busby Berkeley films, watcher of far too much television (crafting does that to you)
Emily Moe
Emily Moe

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13 thoughts on “Milliners, Etsy and the Category Problem

  • If I were looking for a “proper” hat, I think “millinery” would point me there, or “traditional”, or maybe “traditional millinery”. I wouldn’t think that Etsy would find it difficult to add just one more line to the category, as a start.

  • hey – this is actually my job, what I do all day. Please feel free to email me, I’d love to chat with you about this.

  • Even just cocktail hat or fascinator would help immensely in the categories. I feel like most of those options don’t even make sense for any hat.

  • Hey Emily, I finally went in to Etsy headquarters about 2 weeks ago (for some other reason) but did manage to bring this up at the end of my meeting. As you know, I have tried countless times to get this taken care of, and I know you tried too. The bottom line was that they hired a taxonomist, she knows about the issue, and they are working in it. I already knew this but then I asked if they could possibly take care of this particular millinery issue, expedite it. I pointed out that milliners like to eat too. And that was that. They are working on it.

  • Piping up for those of us involved with period millinery! That opens up a whole new can of vocab worms. For example “Bonnet” would be a useful category. Happy hatting folks!

  • Long ago, I made a list of the “missing” styles that would better describe my listings on Etsy. They are: bridal, pillbox, fascinator, fedora, wide brim/big brim, beret, tilt, Kentucky Derby or Race Hat. And I agree that the term “millinery” should also be included. Thanks!

  • I can’t believe they have nothing for Bridal, which is a huge category. I would also add fascinator, floppy (or boho or hippie), baseball cap (or cap), crown, turban (hello cancer patients?) — these are some of the most popular hats I can think of that aren’t included.

  • I too have spent time trying to discuss this with Etsy, They basically told me it was to involved and too costly to add a few new words.
    I certainly hope this works, I really don’t want to to another site, But I have to make money. Etsy should realize the more money we make, the more listings we will do and the more money they will make.

  • I too have spent time trying to discuss this with Etsy, They basically told me it was to involved and too costly to add a few new words.
    I certainly hope this works, I really don’t want to move to another site, But I have to make money. Etsy should realize the more money we make, the more listings we will do and the more money they will make.

  • I contacted Etsy through their site, and this is their reply. Sounds like the more people that send them this suggestion the more priority it will have to get noticed. Send a note to voice your concerns!

    “Thanks for reaching out to Etsy Support. I can understand how important it is for shops that sell hats in traditional millinery shapes to have additional subcategories under the ‘hats’ category. Although we don’t have additional subcategories aside from ‘cloche’ to represent your needs at this time, our community’s feedback is important to us as we continue to make changes to improve our site. While we don’t directly pass along every suggestion, we do collect and deliver your comments to Etsy’s designers and engineers on a regular basis. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any other questions or suggestions that you may have.”

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