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 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.

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