The Improper Bostonian - Craft Works

What an honor it was to be chosen as one of the Top 5 entrepreneurs by The Improper Bostonian magazine. Read on to learn more....

Craft Works is the world’s vintage and handmade goods bazaar, a practical path for artists, their suppliers and audiences to curate a marketplace for one: You.


Just as founder Rob Kalin intended, Etsy provides a big, big sales outlet for small, small artisans who might otherwise have no reach beyond their doorstep.

Bets are, though, that what Kalin envisioned in 2005—when he launched his site as a desultory 24-year-old in Brooklyn, trying to find a better way for artsy-craftsy folk to sell their wares—falls far short of what Etsy is today. With more than 14 million members and some 800,000 shops proffering singular crafts and fashion to an online universe, Etsy has become a half-billion-dollar operation on the basis of charging a listing fee of 20 cents an item and 3.5 percent of every sale. 

Of many theories as to the conception of the name, a Reader's Digest interview—reflecting the bravura and bravado of its founder—says Rob Kalin wanted a nonsense word for his company title “because I wanted to build the brand from scratch.” Kalin said he took it from the Italian word etsi, which he heard a lot in Federico Fellini’s 8 1/2 (of course), meaning “oh yes.” In Latin, et si, means “and if.”  

Although Etsy’s size can make some sellers feel adrift, the following local artisans have found success by hitching themselves to the online crafts juggernaut.


This cool industrial kitchenware line by Jordan Castro, a former construction/real estate project manager living on Plum Island, was forged in the economic crash. Castro, 36, specialized in architectural facets made of concrete, like mantels and benches, but “that business became untenable,” he says. Searching for eco-friendly wares for entertaining, he envisioned fabricating small concrete items that could be replicated, not customized. “I liked to cook and started making salt cellars, and last year got on Etsy.”

His line of “Kitchen Requisites & Epicurean Accoutrement,” includes bowls and coasters, caddies of simple, contemporary design, for $60 to $185. And the marketplace exceeded his expectations. His little kitchen implements bring in revenue of about $200,000.