Finding Your Designer/Maker Tribe - Etsy Style

A typical meeting of our tribe includes plenty of tea, cake and friendly chatter. 

Being a creative, small business owner can have great benefits, including choosing your own working hours, doing a job that you actually love and being free to pursue whichever creative direction you desire. However, at times it can be very tiring and stressful to the point of burn out during the busy periods. One of the most reoccurring comments that I saw during this years #Marchmeetthemaker was that it was quite lonely running your business on your own and that friends and family just didn’t get it. It’s this type of feeling that makes it all the more important that you search out your tribe, whether that’s in the form of facebook groups, finding friends in people on Instagram or joining a local etsy team or craft group.

Until October last year I was working a full time job and running a small business. Between them, they took over my life and I didn’t have time to be sociable. I had my online tribe of designer makers I made good friends with through NOTHS and Facebook groups, but it’s not the same as seeing actual real life people. At the end of September I left my job and moved to a new area where I didn’t have any friends. It was at this point I set up the Somerset Etsy Team. The purpose at the time was to find new people who were local and who I could forge new friendships with. However, it turned out to be a lot more than that...

What is an Etsy Team?

An Etsy Team is a community group who have come together with a common interest, selling on etsy being the main one but there can be further sub categories such as location, marketing, product type etc, the list goes on. Each team has their own forum within the Etsy page where discussions can take place and connections are made. A lot of teams also have their own private facebook groups as this is much easier than remembering to check the forum page. Sellers run these teams on a voluntary basis and are not employees of Etsy. They're just normal people like you and me. Each team generally has one team captain, but the captain can also appoint team leaders to help them run the team, do specific tasks or just to support the captain in anyway possible.

Why should you join one?
Etsy teams are little communities in their own right. They are groups of friendly, like-minded people who are all trying to make a living doing what they love to do most. Quite often, these people are all in the same boat, part time, full time, juggling small children and a business etc. Chances are, you are going to have a lot in common with these people.

Selling on Etsy can be frustrating at times, especially if you think you’ve nailed the photography, tags and titles and all that comes with it, but if you can share these frustrations with people who get it then you might just find a solution to your problem. Teams are a fantastic source of help, advice and recommendations.

We don't just sit around drinking tea, we have themed chats, including shop critiques and help with product development 

Teams are also a great place for skill sharing. For example, if you do a lot of work in textiles and don’t use digital design programs like Adobe Photoshop often, then I’m sure you’ll find someone within the group who would be more than happy to help you or swap their skills for a little bit of help with something that you’re a whizz at. Or maybe you want to expand into a new market and need some help making up some samples, or you need a new logo or a graphic designed or maybe you just want a little bit of feedback. Meet ups are another great place to swap skills, advice, and share hints and tips.

Most teams will have meet ups, whether it’s once a month, once a fortnight or every so often. These are a great place to go and actually chat with people who completely get it. I understand that it can be hugely daunting at first, but I can assure you, it’s absolutely worth it. If you’re a really shy person and are worried about attending, please do message your local captain (I’m sure they won’t mind) and ask if they can pair you with someone who can meet you before the event so you’ve made at least one connection and don’t have to walk through the door on your own. It’s important that these meet ups are accessible for everyone. I’ve made solid friendships with a couple of people out of my team and it’s quite possibly one of the best decisions I’ve made.

This is myself, Joanne, the team captain with my amazing team leader, Jo. We're a friendly pair and love inviting new people into our tribe. 

How do I find a team?
If this sounds like this could be the thing for you the lovely Rachel from the Dorset Etsy Team has put together a list of location based teams and I’ve added in a couple more too.

Birmingham Ideas
Birmingham Originals
Bristol -
Glasgow (Glasgow Team also accept Etsy sellers from across Scotland)
Isle of Wight
Leeds -
London Local -
New Forest
Portsmouth and Southsea
South East England
South Cheshire
UK - Craft Britannia
UK and Ireland

If you’re looking for something that isn’t listed here (this isn’t a complete list of teams!) then it’s really easy to search. Let me tell you how.

1. Go to and scroll right to the very bottom of the page.

2. There are five columns of links and under the heading of ‘join the community’ is a heading for ‘teams’. Click it.

3. Here you will find any teams that you’re already a part of or where you can search for more. There is a little search box that says ‘search for teams’ inside it. Use this to find the sort of team you're looking for whether it is location or craft based etc.

4. If you can’t find what you’re looking for then why not create your own team like I did and use Etsy’s product search function to discover sellers near you and invite them to join you in a team. If you find that a team you want to join is inactive, before making a new team, send them a message to see if they want any help in reviving it or to make sure that they aren’t active elsewhere, like on Facebook for example. You don’t want to tread on anyone’s toes.

Don’t just take my word for how great these little communities are. Here are a few comments from the Somerset Etsy Team:
Charlie – Stitchsperation
“I love meeting people in the same boat (or at least a similar one) as me, who understand the struggles of running your own creative business. Having other creatives to bounce ideas off is invaluable. It's always good to find your 'tribe'”

Tamsyn – Maid of Glass
“Like Charlie said, it's a brilliant opportunity to meet others who understand what you're doing and have a similar mindset. It's also great to be able to share Etsy tips and tricks with others and be able to help each other out and benefit from each other's strengths.”

Jess – Jessica Scissorhands
“It also brings together people who although have very different businesses are reunited under the 'Etsy' tag if that makes sense! Because of this the advice and tips are so wide and varied from many different points of view.”

Jo - Adventures and Tea Parties
"Finding the Somerset Etsy Team is the best thing that could have happened to me. Being new to the county and hardly knowing a soul, I joined thinking it would be nice to chat about running a handmade business and well, to have some people contact. But, it's been so much more than that. Not only have I made some very dear friends but I've found a creative tribe that I feel so completely connected to and as a naturally shy person, being with super friendly, likeminded people has made me feel so at ease with everyone in the team that I literally hop up and down with excitement when it's meet up time! I can't recommend enough the value of joining a local team and will be telling everyone I meet who's on Etsy to find their local tribe too."

If you've already found your tribe then amazing, if not, good luck and I really hope that this helped!

My Top 3 - Photo Editing Apps

Today, I wanted to share with you my top 3 apps for editing photos on my phone. It's something I find myself repeating when I'm talking with people about Instagram so thought I'd jot them down here. If you follow me on Instagram already (@joannehawker if you don't) you'll know that I absolutely love it. I take 97% of photos for my feed on my little iPhone SE and edit them on there too. I'm not really a fan of the standard Instagram filters, so I sought out new ways of getting the photo quality I wanted. The photo above was also taken on my phone, (well, it had to be because my camera was in the picture!) and edited using the apps I talk about below. So, here we go, what's on my phone?

1. Lightroom

Adobe Lightroom has a whole ton of editing options and you can quickly brighten up that dull, dark, poorly lit shot with its range of editing options. There are also plenty of presets/filters to play with, although, I don't use these as much. My favourite thing about this app is how easily I can whiten images and pull up the exposure without completely killing the rest of the image and that the shadows and blacks are two different things. I do like really bright shots and this my little secret weapon for that. It takes a bit of experimenting to learn what you can get away with but it's most definitely improved the quality of my images by far. This is my number one go to app for fixing photos.


This is my go to if I feel there is something missing from my image or if I feel it needs a filter of sorts. There are a variety of free filters and then there is the option of buying even more if you're after something very specific. There is also a whole range of editing options here too, some of which I'm still experimenting with. The skew one for sure. I love that this is an option, I just haven't found a reason to properly use it yet. And straighten! (although you can do this in Lightroom too) I'm very good at taking wonky pictures if I'm in a rush or being impatient. Best of all, this app is completely FREE. You can also post your images to a VSCO feed, which is pretty cool and isn't something I've properly explored yet but it seems to be a good way of discovering some great new people to follow.

3. Layout

This app is by Instagram itself and in my opinion, one of the better apps for creating a collage of images. One of things that really make me cringe is badly formatted collages or ones with ugly backgrounds and weird shapes. It's all about clean, well put together, good fitting shapes for me and layout definitely delivers on this front. You don't even have to do much. Just select all the images that you want from your camera roll and layout shows you all of the different arrangements you could have with your photos. Once you have selected your arrangement, you can then move the images around inside of their boxes so that the right parts of the photos are shown. If you're not happy with that image you can just tap replace and swop it out for another, or mirror or flip it. My favourite bit and this is going to sound really silly, is the simple white borders that you can add to divide the photos. If you've ever tried to do that in photoshop then you know how annoying it is to get that dead right. This app does it perfectly at the tap of a button. I actually used it to make all the collages above. Again this is completely free and I wouldn't use anything else.

Quick recap!

So, these are the little icons that you need to be looking for if you wish to have a closer look at any of these apps in the app/play store. These are just the apps that I personally use and who knows, there might be better out there, but I just wanted to give you an insight into how I create the images for my Instagram feed. If you've read this far, thank you and I hope that some of this might be useful! If you've got any good app suggestions for creating content I'd love to hear about them.