Etsy.com turns 5 on Friday, and crafters are celebrating with more than 450 parties across the globe.
The website, which facilitates the buying and selling of all things handmade, was launched by New York artist Rob Kalin on June 18, 2005. Today, more than 400,000 artists use Etsy to sell nearly 6 million listed items, from jewelry to ceramics to paper crafts.
Site administrators encouraged Etsy users to organize birthday parties for the site. Screen-printer Coryn Enfinger stepped up to throw the Tampa bash at Tempus Projects gallery in Seminole Heights. The cities hosting the parties are competing for the most RSVPs on Meetup.com. Last week Tampa was No. 4, with 122 confirmed participants. Enfinger expects up to 300 attendees at the Tampa Bay shindig.
But don't expect any quilters or basketweavers.
"I think it's more of a hipster event than that," said Tracy Midulla Reller, creative director of Tempus Projects. "I wouldn't call it a craft fair. I would call it an indie vendors' market."
At the event, about 30 vendors will sell their wares outside. There will also be crafting stations, music and free refreshments — including treats provided by local bakers competing in a "prettiest cupcake" contest.
Reller, 36, admitted she's not a crafter. But she agreed to host the party at her gallery in an effort to forge relationships with more artists.
"It's really outside of my comfort zone. I'm not going to lie about it. But I like that it's not your ordinary art event," said Reller, 36, of Seminole Heights. "I kind of like smacking the fine arts snobbery in the face."
For Efinger and her husband, Adam, handmade crafts are big business. The couple owns Central Printing, a screen-printing business in Seminole Heights. Almost a year ago, they also started selling their wares at etsy.com/shop/darkcycleclothing.
"It's been amazing for business," said Enfinger, 24, of Seminole Heights. "It was a side business, (but) it's actually bringing in more revenue than our screen-printing shop."
Enfinger enjoys selling T-shirts to consumers all over the world who appreciate handmade goods.
"I think there's heart and skill in craftsmanship that really goes into it. That's absent from big box stores," Enfinger said. But with Etsy, she added, "It's a more personal experience."