Author: auralynne

Vintage Diva Skirts: Fabric, Trims and Customizations

Over the years, Vintage Diva has been my most popular skirt design. I think this picture does a great job illustrating why:

On the left, you see a sassy, seductive saloon girl costume. On the right, you see an elegant Victorian lady. Yet, both photos show the same skirt!

I designed my Vintage Diva skirt in 2014. I kid not, it took me 4 tries to get the pattern just right! I wanted a bustle skirt that was as quick as possible to make, and thus as economical as possible (pleats and tucks are oh-so labor intensive), and could be worn with various things underneath for versatility. The photos below show early versions:

I finally figured out that for the best look, you need gathers across the back, and pleats on the sides. The photos below show the finalized Vintage Diva pattern – complete with bows adorning each hip!

If you look closely, you’ll see that the bow is very slightly different than the ones on my skirts today – there’s a very specific way a bow must be tied so that it doesn’t go floppy the first time the skirt is washed. My current Vintage Diva skirts have bows that stay looking gloriously bow-like even after washing.


If you’ve looked at the ready-to-ship skirts in my online store, it’s likely you’ve seen photos like this:

But those are just the most popular options! Vintage Diva skirts can’t be worn over hoops or any petticoat that is fluffy around the hips (that will cause the front to look more like a belt than a skirt!) But it looks amazing over any petticoat that’s form-fitting about the hips. For the best look, I recommend a mermaid petticoat, or my a-line “Vintage Flair” petticoat is the exact shape you need for a fluffy short look:

Purple Steampunk Costume

And, of course, it looks incredible worn over my garter shorts and stockings like the red photo earlier in this blog post!


Vintage Diva is part of my line that comes in extended plus sizes. I’ve drafted this pattern in sizes up to 6X, or low hips up to 65 inches. It’s also a pattern that’s really easy to tweak and customize to fit unusual figures. Reach out to me before purchasing if you think you may need a skirt with a customized pattern.

Fabric Options

Vintage Diva skirts can be made from any color in the primary three solid-tone fabrics I use:

And pretty much any other fabric too! I can pleat the back instead of gathering it, which makes fun fabrics like damask velveteen and ribbon embroidery taffeta an option.

The only possible limitation is it can’t be made from a stretch fabric or a fabric that is very thick (plush velvet for instance) so that the side pleats are sewable. There’s a spot on each hip where my machine needs to get through 15 layers of fabric!

In the future, I plan to create a blog post containing photos of EVERY single type of fabric I offer, including the ones I don’t stock but can be custom-ordered if you wish. I’ll add a link here when I do!

Trim Options

Once again, the trim options are basically endless. Most commonly, I’ll do a medium width ruffled lace, the middle pictured trim in the photos below:

I also offer pleated ribbon trim in a bunch of colors:

I plan to continue to offer pleated trim in black and white, but the colors are only available while supplies last. When I’ve re-ordered pleated trim, the shade of the new roll hasn’t always matched the shade of the old roll. The quest for perfectly matching colors between all my fabric, trim, and notions is the bane of my existence! If you want to order a look with pleated trim in a color, I’ll need to check if I have enough remaining to create it. If you want matching accessories for your pleated-trim look, please mention that to me right away so I can check if I have what I need!

Pleated trim can be used by itself, or I can overlay it with lace to create a two-tone trim, as in these examples:

I also have Venice lace trim available in black, white, ivory, silver, and gold. Venice lace cannot be re-ordered, but I always have some on hand in various styles (from narrow to wide) in each color. Black I tend to have a ton of gorgeous styles available – I’m all about the Victorian Vampire looks! Here is a peek at the selection I have right now:

Typically, I do a bow at each hip on a Vintage Diva skirt – although if you’re ordering a look with a dress jacket, I’ll leave them off so your dress jacket doesn’t have weird hip poofs from the bows being underneath!

In addition to black as in the above photo, I have ultra-wide ribbon available to match all my ruffled lace colors, and most of my pleated ribbon trim colors (in the cases where the re-ordered shade has matched the previous shade!)

If you want a look that’s less cutesy and more elegant, the bow can be replaced with an applique, as seen in the photo above.


In the front, a Vintage Diva skirt is the exact length needed to flash garter stocking tops when you walk. If you wear it over one of my lace underskirts, I recommend a pair of stretchy shorts underneath, just to be safe. A commonly requested customization (available at no additional charge) is to make it 3″ longer in the front by gathering less fabric in the pleats.

If you want longer than 3″, that can be done too. I can add about 7″ to the length by adding a ruffle all around the hem. But that’s a whole other skirt! Next week, watch for a new blog post – “All about my “Victorian Delight” skirt!”

I Have Exciting News to Share!

My next blog post was SUPPOSED to be “All About my Vintage Diva Skirt” – but I must interrupt this planned series about my custom made Victorian Bustle Dress Designs to share some exciting news with you…

We finally bought a house!

We’ve been looking for quite a while! For a variety of reasons – the fact that we really wanted to purchase a historical home, the state of the housing market in the area of New England that we live in, the amount of space we would need for my business, and admittedly my own pickiness, it’s been quite difficult to find something within our price range.

But we finally found something! It’s technically a Colonial-era home, but it was updated and expanded during the late-Victorian era, thus there are a lot of historical details to it that I absolutely love! It’s an extreme fixer-upper, and I’ll be sharing photos of our projects here as we undertake them – the ones that relate to my business or the Steampunk/Victorian themed ones, that is!

There’s a standalone garage building – with a story and a half over top that will will be utterly amazing for my business since it’s 100% separate from our home. Any home-based business owners out there will be very familiar with the challenges – it can be hard to separate working-time and relaxation-time well enough to truly be able to relax when you work from home. The over-garage studio is a long-and-involved project for the future, however. Like – it needs more than just paint, it needs non-plywood floors!

The house has a walk-up attic that’s finished, however, and it’s really a neat-looking spot! Eventually I’ve promised the kids that it will be their “video gaming room” – but for now, I can store most of what I keep ready-to-ship in my business up there. Our first project was to repaint the steeply sloped ceiling and the dormer walls to white:

The existing paint job was in good shape, but it was yellowish beige, which is very bad for taking photos! It makes silver accents look tarnished, turns purple shades to plum, and gives reds this weird orange sheen. It’s SO much better if I have the option to take a quick photo to show someone something (or to share on social media) with accurate colors, and without having to set up a lightbox!

My favorite part – even now in this temporary setup, my dress form mannequin is able to have a permanent location where I can put things on it to take pictures:

I used to have to pull it out from a corner behind other things and set up a temporary backdrop to be able to take pictures!

My sewing room is going to be our spare bedroom for now, and that’s the next project on our list. The people who lived in our house before attached a bunch of stuff to the walls and ceilings with a staple gun! I’ve already gone over every square inch of the spare bedroom with a variety of tools (pliers, a flathead screwdriver, and a paint scraper) in order to remove an absolute cubic butt ton of staples and broken staple bits – but that left behind a landscape of scratchy poky plaster. AKA death to lace. ☠️

I put all my fabric rolls inside heavy duty long bags to move them, and they’ve gotta stay in the bags until that room is safe!

Until my husband and I are able to set aside enough time to complete the sanding, hole-filling, and painting, I’ve been catching up on computer work – both for my business, and for the Indie Sellers Guild – the nonprofit advocacy organization for creative small businesses that I helped found.

And I’ve done some sewing from my dining room, which is honestly what I’m used to, as that’s where I used to sew when we lived in the apartment.

I will be ecstatic to finally have truly dedicated space for my very space-intensive business!

Custom Made Victorian Bustle Dress Designs

I’ve been utterly obsessed with the Victorian era since a very young age. My favorite time period is the late 1870’s through the early 1880’s. I love the silhouette of the gowns of those specific years – the elegant lines, the understated bustle that flows down smoothly into a train.

Here’s an example from Godey Lady’s Book, 1877. (Side note – is that a LEOPARD PRINT Victorian dress in white, black and purple? NEED!)

I’m more into historically-inspired fantasy that true historical accuracy, so the next step is to translate all that glorious fluffy overdone goodness into something that’s just a BIT more practical for modern use, and as fun as possible!

I live in New England, and there are LOTS of awesome Steampunk events within easy driving distance here. If you’re unfamiliar with Steampunk, imagine a Renaissance festival – except replace the Medieval/Renaissance parts with Victorian times and steam-powered technology. I’ve written about my own journey discovering Steampunk here.

My custom made line of Victorian-inspired bustle dresses are designed with my own cosplay adventures in mind! So they’re the most versatile of the things I make. The skirts are designed to be layered over other pieces, and worn in different ways for different looks.

So far, I’ve created 5 different Victorian Bustle Skirt patterns. Below you can see a little preview of each – a collage showing a sketch of the pattern, along with examples of the skirts in action at past photoshoots. Next, I’ll be writing a series of articles to give more details about each style of skirt – fabrics and trims that can be used to make them, available customizations, and more.

I’ll update the pictures so that they’re links once I get the posts online!

I’ll also be writing posts about the styles of tops that I’ve drafted patterns for so far – although that’s a little more difficult. My bolero and jacket patterns are designed to be completely interchangeable – so there are a lot of possibilities! Here was my attempt at drawing just the Victorian sleeve options with bolero jackets:

These are JUST the late-Victorian inspired sleeves, then when you consider that any type of sleeve can be paired with any bodice pattern, and you add additional options like collars and various long jacket backs, it makes the options rather hard to get down on paper…

Good thing that I enjoy making sketches!

About My Designs

“You have so many pretty things. How do I choose?”

You might be surprised how often people ask me a question along those lines. So I thought I would write a series on my blog to help narrow down the possibilities.

The “Dress” in this picture is actually a 5 piece set of matching items. (6 pieces with the hat!)

Everything I make comes in pieces. I design this way for several reasons:


Dresses that come in pieces can be later worn in a different combination. It’s so cool to be able to switch out accessories and underthings, and have a whole new look!


Pieces means options – and if you have the ability to splurge, you can get them all, and have the whole “Deluxe” set. But if you are on a budget, you’ll love having the “Basic” option, which is all you need for a gorgeous look.


If I make all the pieces separately, I can offer mix and match sizes, and even do some last minute sewing customizations. It’s a friggin Victorian/Fantasy ball gown, and I want it to fit you like a DREAM!

Corset Dress Silhouettes

I tend to categorize my designs based on the silhouette, or basic shape of the skirt. My corset dresses can be categorized into 5 silhouettes:

If you have a penchant for Steampunk and Victorian stylings, you want a bustle silhouette.

  • Full fluffy backs, which look adorable with a bustle
  • Cute worn all by themselves too
  • Wear over a mermaid skirt or petticoat for a full length look
  • Full length bustle gowns available too

Blend a bit of Lolita into your look with a petticoat silhouette.

  • Patterns fluffy and full to wear over a petticoat
  • Several petticoat styles available
  • Yes, one of my petticoat styles IS a cage skirt!
  • Interchangeable fronts and backs… Oh the possibilities!

For a look that’s just as practical as it is adorable, go with a skirt with a high low silhouette.

  • Shows off your legs oh-so-nicely
  • SMEXY when worn with garter shorts.
  • Elegant when worn with a lace mermaid skirt
  • or perfectly cute worn alone, too!

To feel elegantly all-lady, choose a skirt with a flowy silhouette.

Nothing is more fun to wear than a hoop skirt!

  • Oh so full and fluffy, for a beautiful bell shape
  • Victorian-inspired styles for Steampunk adventures
  • Medieval and Renaissance-inspired styles for fantasy adventures
  • Because sometimes, you just want to go all out.

Next, I plan to write posts outlining all available options for each of my corset dresses, starting with Victorian Steampunk Bustle gowns. I’ll add links to each to this page once the posts are ready. Please stay tuned!

Gothic Delight Victorian Wedding Dress

Over the years, “Victorian Vixen” has been my most popular jacket:

And “Vintage Diva” has been my most popular skirt!

But for some reason, I never put the two of them together into one costume – with the exception of the following dress, where I used a different fabric:

So I thought I’d rectify that, and I made this dress!

I also added a little detail that I’ve been wanting to try for a while. I have this cool technique that I use to make hitch-able skirts. I attach ribbons on the inside, and each ribbon has a hook attached. Then there are loops at the waist area. When you attach the hook to the loops at the waist area, the skirt is not only hitched to a shorter length, but you also wind up with this beautiful drapey effect – caused by how the ribbons are gathered up in back.

The jacket back with this look is hitchable! Of course, I forgot to take pictures of it hitched – but you can see that it is a little bit longer than my jackets usually are – a bit too long to be able to dance in, but hitching it will fix that!

I’ll be putting this on my dress form soon to get photos to post the sample for sale in my store, and I will be sure to hitch the skirt, so you can see what it looks like!

My goal with this look was to create an iconic Gothic Victorian Wedding Dress. I do believe I succeeded!

The hat pictured here is a tilt mini-fedora style. These are technically limited-edition (I don’t plan to order more of the bases once they run out) – but I have a very large number of them still, so I anticipate it will be available for a very long time.

As always, jewelry by my sister! You can see more of her work at

This dress is a size Medium, and once I get those dress form pictures taken, I will post the sample for sale (50% off custom-made price as I do with all my sample gowns) in this section of my online store!

How to Order a Custom Corset

About two weeks ago, I had a lightbulb go off in my head. I’ve never offered custom corsets before, but I totally could! The missing ingredient, as it turns out, is the store I’ve been busily building right here on this website!

I offer three types of corsets. Two of them are already posted in my online store. I offer steel boned fashion corsets – which won’t actually reduce your waist size, but they come in epic cute styles that won’t break the bank. I offer hourglass corsets – a pattern I drafted myself and sent off to a wholesaler to have manufactured just for my shop.

Finally, I offer a third grade of corsets, in the past only available to people commissioning a custom-made wedding dress or costume. My third corset supplier is the one with the SERIOUSLY drool-worthy corsets. They have ton of styles:

And a ton of fabrics:

These are the best quality corsets I’ve ever encountered – virtually indestructible pieces that weigh in at nearly 2 pounds each. They’re available in sizes from 20 to 40 (or XS through 4X), and can even be customized to your measurements for the best fit.

With this supplier, I can order corsets one-per-style/color/size – but there is a total order minimum, which I always have a bit of trouble meeting! When offering them to custom-order-gown customers – there are several circumstances that help me meet their minimum – the income from the full gown I’m making, the fact that I typically run a backlog and can order multiple custom-gown-corsets at once, and the fact that these are the corsets I drastically prefer to wear myself at events and in photoshoots – all of these things help!

As I’ve been figuring out the tech to make pre-orders a part of my website (where you can sign up to be notified the next time I plan to make a batch of pretty things in your choice of fabric/trims) I realized – the exact tech I’m using to manage pre-orders is also perfect for custom corset orders!

Custom Corsets: How to Order, and How it Works

There’s a new category now in my online store – “Custom Corsets”:

Right now it contains just two corset listings – but if you consider that each of these corsets come in 6 different styles and 9-12 different colors per style – that’s a whole lotta corset possibilities already! Once I have more time for a photo-taking day, I plan to take photos of additional styles from my photoshoot corset collection, and post many more.

When custom corsets are available for purchase, you’ll see an add-to-cart button on each listing, and a note about how long you have to place the order, and when you can expect your custom corset to ship:

When custom corsets aren’t available, you’ll instead see a waitlist button. Click it, and you can sign up to be notified the next time they’re available – like you can with the “pre-orders” section of my shop.

I manage pre-orders with a WordPress plugin. It’s intended for back-in-stock notifications, but with a bit of customization to the text blurbs, I was able to make it work awesomely well for my handmade costumes business! When you sign up, the system will add you to a list. There’s a separate list for each item in my backend, so no worries about unwanted emails. You’ll just get a notification about the thing you signed up for.

This is a screenshot of my waitlist admin area. I set up a few products with waitlist buttons to test the system, and already have a few people waiting for emails!

Last but certainly not least, custom corsets are available right now! To get in on this batch, please place your order by January 5th. Click here to order the custom corset of your dreams.

Custom Orders are Coming Soon!

…For real this time!

I actually made this announcement (and shared this photo) the first time back in June of 2020. Now here I am, two and a half years later, making it again!


The whole story (14 parts! O.O) is posted here – but here’s a short explanation of why I stopped offering custom orders for so long – just in case you don’t have hours to read my babblings!

Since mid 2020, Etsy has a mandatory ads program. They force me to participate, and randomly take an extra 12% out in fees for any sale “attributed” to one of these ads. I can’t choose what to advertise. And yes, it can apply to a private listing that I make for a customer, if that customer clicked on an Etsy ad for any of my listings at any time in the last 30 days. Or if Etsy’s bots think they have for some reason!

ALL of my custom orders used to come from Etsy. And there’s another policy on Etsy, where if I ask a customer in a message to purchase from me off the platform, I can get banned.

What should I do? That was the question running through my head for the last two and a half years. Do I overcharge everyone, or sometimes take a paycut?

It’s a big paycut. The fee is 12% of the order total, and I still have to pay for everything else – materials, shipping, all Etsy’s other fees. When I get an offsite ads order, it works out to about a 25% paycut. A fancy custom gown can take me weeks to make.

A LOT has happened in 2022, and I wound up taking a long break from Etsy. It gave me the time to really think of how to get around the problem.

I would leave Etsy in a heartbeat if I could – but I can’t, and since founding the Indie Sellers Guild I’ve discovered that nearly every other creative indie seller is in the same boat with me. Tiny online shops simply don’t have the power to dominate Google searches like a giant tech platform. But there are a lot of ways I can make sure my Etsy shoppers know how to get a custom order that aren’t likely to get me banned – mainly in my images!

As I reopen my Etsy shop, I’ve been careful to create multiple images to let people know I have a website, and on the things I make that tend to inspire people to ask for custom made, I make sure one of the photos specifically says that custom orders are only available at

If anyone contacts me on Etsy to ask about a custom order, I will have to turn them down entirely so that I’m not breaking Etsy’s terms of service. But I’ve always received a few more custom requests than I have time to fill.

With this plan, I’m finally feeling confident enough to open custom orders again. I feel like I won’t spend TOO much time turning people down because they reached out on Etsy. I hate saying no, and it would be particularly aggravating if I had to keep doing so while my schedule was open!

On my website I have options for custom orders that aren’t possible on Etsy! I’ve started by creating a page on my site for pre-orders – that is, where you can see what’s next on my sewing schedule and order a rotating selection of my skirts or shrugs made just for you. I’m still working on this, but I think I can add a “Request Made-to-Order” button on everything I post here, so you can sign up to be notified the next time I make a batch of any of my skirts or jackets.

I’ve run out of a lot of my most popular skirts and underpinnings – so my plan is to restock those first. Next, I’ll work on getting options for made-to-order costumes, and the made-to-order gowns I offer that take less time to make. Haha, dress jacket gowns will have to come last!

Dress jacket gowns… Oh so pretty… But oh so much sewing!!

I have updated the custom orders page on my site with commonly asked questions, and I anticipate that they will be fully available again by spring of 2023.

I’m looking forward to creating one-of-a-kind creations again!


Image by PublicDomainPictures from Pixabay

I’ve held out for as long as I possibly can. I’m reopening my Etsy shop today. Even though I spearheaded an internet based activism movement that grew to 82 thousand people in 4 weeks time, somehow I can’t figure out how to earn enough on a standalone website to keep from being forced to return to Etsy — at least, not yet. Maybe that says more about the state of the world than it says about me.

I had to register a “throwaway” bank account to reopen my shop. Etsy’s latest anti-creator policy is to require each and every one of us (in the US at least) to give our bank account info to what’s been described as a “legal phishing” service in order to keep getting paid.

We tried everything to fight back against being forced to sign up for Plaid and agree to their privacy policy, which states that Plaid can do whatever the heck they want with financial data from our bank account. We filed formal FTC complaints, and some of us took it to our state attorney generals too.

Just last Friday, we received a reprieve of an extra 72 days to verify. We think it’s likely that so many sellers were upset by the policy that Etsy was worried about it cutting into holiday season profits. The reprieve came too late for me — as I had already connected Plaid to my “throwaway” bank account.

And now here I am, back on Etsy. Back to being on call for messages every single weekend so I don’t lose Star Seller status. Back to sending hundreds of dollars every month to a platform that does not care about me or the success of my business. Back to waiting for the next anti-creator change I’ll have to spend unpaid time adapting to.

For every 100 dollars I earn in sales in my shop, Etsy fees could cost me anything from $10 to $22. Not knowing how much I’ll pay per sale really sucks. I’m adding a 15% surcharge to my Etsy prices in comparison to the prices on my website — but I know that if there is a week or month when too many of my sales are attributed to their offsite ads program, I won’t be charging enough to cover their fees, and they will come out of my income instead.

I became a leader of the Etsy strike movement on February 28th. My indie online business has a social media following of nearly 17 thousand people on Facebook. The first time they heard about the Etsy strike was on April 1st. Together with many other people in our movement, I shared this image:

Image by Etsy Strike image team

For 4 years, while I watched Etsy kill my online business, I was that woman in the photo. I felt like I couldn’t speak out about the things happening on the platform. I felt like no one would listen, like no one would care.

I am so glad to have been so incredibly wrong about that.

Our customers shop on Etsy to support US. They are universally not-happy to learn of all the ways Etsy is screwing over its sellers. And so, until Etsy decides to stop screwing over its sellers, our customers will know.

I will continue to sell on Etsy, as I have no other choice, no other way to reach enough people in this tech-platform-dominated world. But that doesn’t mean I have to suffer in silence.

Each and every time an order comes through from an Offsite Ad, and I find myself with 78% instead of 90% of the funds from the sale, that package will contain a note to the customer, something like:

Hi! Thank you so much for supporting my handmade business. I want you to know that I have a website (, where I’m able to offer you much better prices, as Etsy fees more than doubled in less than 4 years, and I had to raise prices to compensate! For instance, since your order came though with an extra advertising fee, 22% of your payment went straight to Etsy.

I appreciate every single order from every single beautiful customer, including the ones who shop from me through Etsy — but over the past year, I’ve learned that you all don’t want to be kept in the dark about this! Knowledge is power. Thus this note. 🙂

Thanks again for your patronage, and happy costumed adventures!

Each and every time I receive a message on the weekend or on a day off, there will be an auto-reply:

Hi! This is an auto-reply. Sorry to do this, I swear I am a real person who offers individualized customer service! Etsy has this Star Seller Program that forces me to either be on call for messages 24/7, or set an autoreply every single time I want to take a full day or a weekend off. Since I like to unplug and be with my family from time to time, autoreply it is!

Thank you for your patience, and I will get back to you ASAP!

Other guild members have come up with creative ways to let shoppers know, like these labels by Lightbringer Designs:

Labels by Lightbringer Designs

During our fight not to be forced to share our bank account history with Plaid, we learned that the US government doesn’t consider us to be consumers, and so, consumer laws don’t apply to us. While setting up our labor organization, we learned that US labor law doesn’t consider us to be employees, and therefore labor laws don’t apply to us. Every law that exists to protect individuals against the excesses of giant corporations does not protect us.

There is nothing out there to help us. The only answer is for us to start helping ourselves.

Luckily, we’re doing just that, with the Indie Sellers Guild, our all-volunteer, free-to-join union for online sellers.

Before the Etsy Strike, I was alone, and I was powerless.

Today, I have no idea what the future holds. But I feel so much stronger now that I have found camaraderie, and community, with other members of the guild.

Individually, we are one drop.

Together, we are an ocean.

Image from Indie Sellers Guild home page.

I’m closing this article with a note for all the lovely customers who have supported me on my website during this time. Thank you! Thank you all, so much. There have been moments since August when I thought I’d have to re-open my Etsy shop – but each time, I’d get a new order or two, and be able to hold out for that much longer!

Because of all of you, I feel confident that I will be able to keep custom orders and really limited edition things off Etsy (those are the types of things that their anti-creator policies hurt worst), and that will make things much easier.

Now that I’m finally done with the Etsy Strike series, I’ll be glad to be able to go back to my usual light-hearted style and babble about pretty things!

This post is part of a series telling the story behind the 2022 Etsy Strike. Click here to start at the beginning.

A Tale of Two CEO’s

Photo by June Admiraal on Unsplash

On the evening of April 11, day 1 of the Etsy Strike, I logged into our Twitter account and saw a new notification that was sent to @EtsyStrike. I clicked on it, curiously, because the name of the person who had made the tweet sounded really familiar.

I read the tweet. I googled the guy’s name. My mouth fell open in shock.

Rob Kalin, @rokali on Twitter, is Etsy’s original CEO and founder. He’s no longer with the company. That tweet was the first thing he’d said on Twitter since December 2014. He broke a 7.5 year Twitter silence to come out in support of us.

Two days later, Etsy’s current CEO, Josh Silverman, also had something to say about Etsy sellers.

Each of our sellers is a blade of grass in a tornado. They’re someone you haven’t heard of.

Valerie (our blog manager at the time who has moved on to head the Artisans Coop project) called it “the kind of tone-deaf comment we’d expect to hear from an out-of-touch CEO sitting high in his tower behind security gates, hoping the angry populace will go away and taking whispered advice from ‘crisis communications’ experts.”

My reaction to the statement was a little different. It caused me to realize something.

The billionaire Wall Street types in charge of Etsy see us as blades of grass underfoot. They can do whatever they want to us, extract whatever they want from us, in the form of additional fees out of our sales, additional time spent working for free to adapt to their constant profit-seeking changes.

To them, we are blades of grass. And you know what, they’re right. Unless our grassroots group of sellers can figure out how to change things, we are absolutely, utterly powerless.

In the beginning of this series, I penned a statement that may have seemed like an exaggeration:

Etsy is my master, and I am the abused dog that keeps coming back to them every time they call me.

It’s not an exaggeration. It’s a little bit tragic how true that felt when I typed it into my computer.

The primary thing detractors say — to me at least — is this:

“If you’re fed up with Etsy, you should just leave!”

The statement always prompts a little eye-rolling, because I am about as certain as I can be that that is exactly what those Etsy execs who keep putting profits over the people who generate their profits hope we’ll all do.

In fact, they talk about it in their investor reports. Seller churn, they call it. Yes, it’s the same word used to describe making butter the old-fashioned way. It’s called “churn” because it describes an in-and-out motion. Sellers leave, and later, sellers come back when they discover that the other options aren’t what they’re cracked up to be.

I’ve tried to leave. So many times. It’s a sad fact that a one-woman-shop like mine simply does not have the power to dominate Google searches to the extent of a giant corporation like Etsy. It’s a sad fact that other marketplaces simply do not compare to the one with the buyer following and reputation built by sellers like myself, over more than a decade of selling on the platform and recommending it to our friends and customers.

It’s a sad fact that no matter what Etsy decides to extract from us in the form of additional fees, or additional time spent working for free, most of us are stuck on the platform, at least in part.

Individually, we are powerless. But we are individuals no more.

All of this started with a Reddit post titled “We need an Etsy Sellers Union.” Every day that passes, the statements I penned in that post grow more and more true.

And so, it’s a good thing that myself and other talented, knowledgeable volunteers — all of us “in it for the long haul” — are working on doing just that. We’ve formed a nonprofit organization. We’re calling ourselves the Indie Sellers Guild. We’ve made membership free so we can be there for sellers no matter where they are on their path to success. We’re calling ourselves a guild for pesky legal reasons, but our organization is designed to operate exactly like a union. We are democratically owned by our seller members, who will vote to determine our future path.

Our home page tells it like it is:

It’s not easy to earn a creative living in this tech-platform-dominated internet. We are at the mercy of a corporate structure that wants to squeeze every bit of profit it can from sellers and buyers alike.

Individually, we have no power. We can only complain, and try harder to eke out poverty-level wages from the platforms we must use to reach our buyers.

Together, we can unite and fight back! Corporations cannot be allowed to continue destroying our livelihoods in the name of bigger profit margins.

We are the Indie Sellers Guild. We are a grassroots nonprofit, by indie sellers, for indie sellers. Our hard work makes Big Tech rich! We deserve a seat at the table, and we’re fighting to get one.

When Josh Silverman compared us to blades of grass, we plastered that shit all over social media.

Image from Indie Sellers Guild

When it comes down to it, I’d rather be a blade of grass any day than the owner of the foot that’s stomping on other people.

And you know what, a blade of grass can withstand a tornado. So long as that blade of grass has the proper root system, it will bend, but it won’t break.

This post is part of a series telling the story behind the 2022 Etsy Strike. Click here to start at the beginning.

A Whirlwind of Media Interviews

I knew what was coming. I was dreading it. It was the one part of my role in the Etsy Strike movement that I was not comfortable with, in the slightest.

I would need to appear in interviews to talk to people. On video. In front of a camera. I would need to talk to people without tripping over my tongue. Or giggling like a fool. Or any number of other things I was certain I would do.

I’ve always known that video is a medium I should REALLY try to figure out if I want to be successful in my business. I mean, I make stuff that looks like this:

And I get photographs of it by dolling myself (and friends) up, and wandering around various public parks. That’s like, perfect fodder for Youtube or Tiktok!

I’ve tried to video tape photoshoots multiple times. I’m always shy to spend the time clipping and turning them into something to post… because, well, I’m an idiot. A funny idiot, but still an idiot.

For example – tripping across a greenspace seeing how much lift I can get under a wide hoopskirt with each step, while saying “bouncy bouncy bouncy bouncy…” yep, that’s me.

I know that idiocy is very entertaining – so it probably WOULD be very good as a channel of some sort. But there’s a line between entertaining fool and just plain fool – and I’m never entirely certain if I’ve crossed it! Video terrifies me, on principle. And I really couldn’t be an idiot on an actual real life news media interview.

It was coming, and I was going to have to step up. And so, I overprepared. Before my first interview, I spent probably about 5 hours memorizing responses to the questions I thought reporters would be most likely to ask.

I didn’t think of everything they would ask. Thus, I learned something very important during my first interview. Afterwards, I watched it, and I realized, I did significantly better on the questions I hadn’t prepared for!

Ah. Don’t overthink it. The thing I have to tell myself with almost everything I attempt.

It didn’t take long to realize that I really enjoyed media interviews. It’s a special combination of getting to talk to grown ups (work at home moms feel me on this one!), and feeling important/official. On April 7, 2022, came an opportunity to realize that I wasn’t half bad at it.

I had an interview with Yahoo Finance. Yes, I know, Yahoo Finance. I somehow didn’t put two and two together, until I was in the breakout room in a zoom call waiting to go on live television. I wasn’t live yet, but I could see what was currently being broadcasted in the call. The broadcaster introduced the segment that would include my interview. He started talking about Etsy’s stock. I saw a huge graph of Etsy’s stock price doing a nosedive.

And I thought, Oh. Shit. Yahoo Finance. Finance as in stocks! As in, a show meant for a bunch of people who aren’t particularly fond of these pesky Etsy strikers having a negative effect on their portfolios! Oh boy…

I was scared to watch that interview afterwards, until it got shared by someone who I was pretty sure wasn’t trying to make fun of me. So two days after it aired, I watched it. My eyes got bigger as I did.

I could see places where the reporter was trying to trap me into a bad answer – places I didn’t fall! For a work-at-home mom with with no professional media training, I think I did pretty damn good.

By 4/11, we were joking about how the interviews were coming in too quickly to keep up. By 4/12, we were too busy for joking! That day alone we posted 13 calls to Discord asking people to reach out to the reporters for interviews. Even with four of us on the core team doing nearly back-to-back interviews, we couldn’t keep up.

I had to download What’sApp, because reporters from other countries wanted to call me. My most epic moment occurred during a phone interview with someone from BBC. He asked what I sell on Etsy. I answered “I’m a gothic Victorian fashion designer!” He replied, “Oh. Wow! I wasn’t expecting that!” in a delighted tone – and I should add that he had the absolute smoothest British accent I have yet to hear. In that moment, I thought, “That’s it. I’ve peaked…”

There are a lot of ways to reach me. I discovered that, when there was a sea of reporters using each and every one of them all at once. My Etsy inbox. Facebook and Instagram inboxes both for my business and for the Etsy Strike project. The chat system, and message system on Reddit. The mod message system for our subreddit. The contact form attached to our petition. The contact form on my business website. Our Discord server. Private messages on Discord. The email I set up for media interviews and linked on My cellphone, eventually. One time a reporter called my husband looking for me. We still have no idea how that happened!

Every day during the strike, evening would come, and the Etsy Strike organizers would take a collective breath. Maybe the media frenzy would die down now. The following day we would think it had, until it started back up again late morning.

I really do love appearing on media interviews. By the end of the strike on 4/18, I wanted to turn into a turtle and hide in a shell for a very long time.

I couldn’t do that though. 82 thousand people had signed up for our cause, and the strike was done, but we weren’t done.

The strike was only the beginning.

This post is part of a series telling the story behind the 2022 Etsy Strike. Click here to start at the beginning.

A Petition To Josh Silverman

A screenshot of our petition, taken 72 hours after it was posted online.

March 8, 2022. The day Mattie swooped in and saved my life.

It sounds like an exaggeration, but that’s really what it felt like. Mattie joined Discord and introduced themself with this message, which I would see the following morning on March 9th:

I’m here because as individuals, Etsy sellers are completely at the mercy of a corporate structure that wants to squeeze out every bit of profit it can from makers and buyers alike. But if we organize (and maybe someday collectively bargain?!) we can win ourselves a better, fairer deal. I’m in it for the long haul, well beyond the end of the strike this April.

It’s hard to describe how I felt when I read Mattie’s statement about being “in it for the long haul”. I’m quite sure I made an excited sound into the cup of coffee I was drinking, in the dark, at 5AM just after my husband left for work. I responded:

Welcome! 😄 I’m so happy to have you. I have grand after-strike ideas/plans — but avoiding talking too much about them now because must! focus! So glad you’re in it for the long run too!

From that day on, Mattie jumped in, and just did stuff, which was exactly what we needed. Mattie found and reached out to them about helping us with this project. Mattie wrote about 80–90% of the petition itself.

Although I’m exceptional in many areas, I make up for it by being exceptionally incompetent in others. Essentially it’s a split between things that are creative (in which I’m mostly exceptional) and things that are practical (in which I’m exceptionally incompetent). Petition writing is a practical skill. And so, color me incompetent.

We decided that I would be the face of the movement, since I’m a walking stereotype of an Etsy seller. Work at home mom, and all that. I’m also slightly more secure in the face of potential retaliation, for various reasons. I have a website and a decent social media following at least on Facebook. If Etsy deleted my shop as a result of my strike related actions — it would REALLY suck, but I wouldn’t be destitute.

I’m the one whose face and name is on the petition that got us tens of thousands of supporting sellers in only a few weeks time. The one who could truly take most of the credit for our petition is Mattie.

The strategy that got it in front of as many early-on eyeballs as possible — that was me.

My strategy was simple. Recruit people. Get those people to recruit more people. Get those people to recruit more people. Use every skill possessed by the people in our growing movement to help it grow even more. And so on, and so forth, until we multiplied into a massive, unstoppable force.

A simple strategy, but a lot of technical expertise was needed to pull it off. We needed to be everywhere — on every social media platform. We needed content to share to keep people engaged and hyped up about the strike. We needed somewhere to send people to find out more information about our movement than what can be shared in a social media post. People needed easy/low effort ways to help us spread the word. And finally, for those we reached that wanted to get more involved, we needed to make it easy for them to join our working teams.

I created accounts for us on every social media platform. I created a WordPress website for us at to send people to for more information about the movement. I created content to share to spread the word about what had been happening with Etsy. Content about our planned strike. Content about why it was important. Content about how we needed help.

Eventually, the help started rolling in. I created systems that would work for organizing the people helping us. In Discord, you can give people “roles” and later, you can ping everyone who has a specific role, all at once.

A request for infographics posted on Discord

We recruited people who could do things that are beyond me. We recruited someone who understood Discord bots, and they set it so that people could choose their own Discord helper roles by clicking on emoji images.

We recruited graphic designers and digital artists who helped us up our image game. This set of infographics by Kittynaut was our most popular post during the time leading up to the strike:

Infographic set by Kittynaut. OMIGOSH GO CHECK OUT THEIR SHOP!

We recruited people who could make videos as well as photos. Eventually there were videos about us circulating around, as well as the image-only social media campaigns that I had started. We recruited people who could write blog posts. Our blog became more interesting as my voice was joined by others on the team.

And finally, we recruited people with actual real experience in labor union organizing.

Yes, this whole thing had started (for me) with a Reddit post about how we needed “an Etsy sellers union.” How to create it? Completely beyond me.

But luckily, I wasn’t alone any more. I had Mattie, and a growing team of incredibly talented people who, like Mattie, were in it for the long haul.

It was starting to feel like there were no limits to the things we could accomplish.

This post is part of a series telling the story behind the 2022 Etsy Strike. Click here to start at the beginning.

Our First Real Breakthrough

Photo by Tom Barrett on Unsplash

I’ve mentioned before how online communities for Etsy sellers tend to not be very supportive if you’re having issues with Etsy. When I tried to spearhead an Etsy Seller strike, I discovered these spaces are not supportive of striking Etsy sellers either.

Wait. Did I say “not supportive”? That’s an understatement of laughable proportions. If we put pro-strike vs anti-strike sentiment on a scale, they’d be off the scale at the negative end. They believed we were all idiots for trying to plan a strike. They weren’t at all shy about telling us.

As of March 3rd, 2022, I had only tried making posts to share info about the strike in spaces with “Etsy Seller” in the name. It was a rather demoralizing activity.

And it didn’t match real life experience. I knew quite a few Etsy sellers. All supporters of the strike. All in complete agreement with every one of our demands. All completely fed up with Etsy’s corporate greed.

And I mean, logic. Our basic fees to use the platform had more than doubled in less than four years. On top of those basic fees, we were paying out the nose every time one of our items sold through an Offsite Ad. All this while objectively, the platform is much worse now than it was four short years ago.

Were people really happy about that?

Things were starting to look a little hopeless. How could our movement gain any traction if all the online communities ostensibly by and for Etsy sellers were so rabidly against what we were trying to do?

On March 3rd, 2022, something changed. A random series of events that resulted in our first major breakthrough. Value Added Resource (an online blog that posts “Ecommerce News, By Sellers, For Sellers”) wrote an article about us.

Even though Value Added Resource is a small publication, I was still very excited to discover they had featured us! I went to Reddit, and started to post it to r/EtsyStrike. Then I thought, wait, this article looks newsy. It’s pretty similar to the type of content I see posted to r/News. What would happen if I posted instead to r/News?

My post was removed from r/news. For being from a “disreputable source”. It happened at exactly 100 upvotes, so I think it was an action taken by a bot. Still, it was the first real breakthrough of the Etsy Strike project.

That post made it to 100 upvotes in only a few minutes. It also got quite a few comments in that time. 100% positive comments. From Etsy buyers who were fed up with the platform being full of the same mass-produced junk you find on Amazon, Ebay or Aliexpress. And even a few from Etsy sellers who completely agreed that we needed to band together and try to fight back.

A lightbulb went off in my head. I realized if I wanted the Etsy Strike to reach enough people, we needed to find a way to reach Etsy sellers outside of communities with “Etsy” in the name. I had no idea what was going on with those spaces — but obviously those weren’t the people we needed to reach.

I also realized I needed help — lots of it — if I was going to come anywhere close to the number of people I needed to reach. 5.2 million active Etsy sellers is a lot of people. So that meant the people I needed to focus on reaching were the people most likely to jump in and help.

Who were those people? People like me. People fed up with the bullshit.

When Etsy killed my online business, in a way, it made me lose faith in America. Like many people in my country, I used to believe America was this magical place where anyone can make it, if they work hard and never give up.

I had worked so fucking hard. I never gave up. I poured more than a decade of my life into a platform that had chewed me up and spit me out, just as soon as businesses like mine were no longer the ones they found most profitable. I was so fucking angry, and still, I wasn’t giving up. I was fighting back.

I needed to find other people like me — people disenchanted with the system, and ready to fight back. I knew exactly which subreddits to find them in. They were the same ones I’d been hanging out in myself, trolling for snarky memes about “Late Stage Capitalism” and similar topics.

My primary disadvantage was that 5.2 million Etsy sellers is a lot of people. It was also my main advantage. I could throw a rock into nearly any online space, and if I didn’t hit an Etsy seller, I’d probably hit someone who knows one.

I finally had a strategy, and I would see where it would take me.

This post is part of a series telling the story behind the 2022 Etsy Strike. Click here to start at the beginning.

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