By Laura Christman
Empowerment can be found in beaded bracelets, woolly hats, quirky hair-clips, plush dog beds or felted bunnies. Because if you have the creative flair to make something, it might just make you a successful entrepreneur.
A five-class series coming to Redding in June is built on the idea of creativity leading to financial stability. And that fits nicely with the mission of The Women’s Fund of the Shasta Regional Community Foundation to support Redding women and their families.
“It’s Your Etsy Business” begins June 18. The Saturday sessions at West Coast Innovations on Larkspur Lane are presented by the Women’s Business Center of Jefferson Economic Development Institute and funded by a 2016 grant from The Women’s Fund.
The free classes provide those interested in starting a store on Etsy – an Internet marketplace of handmade and vintage items – with basic-business know-how, including successfully pricing, marketing and photographing their products.
“We’re giving them all the tools they need to have the best Etsy store they can have,” says Sher Barber, Women’s Business Center program manager for JEDI.
The aim is to empower women by helping them start and grow creative businesses. Etsy is a good fit for rural areas, Barber says. It offers the flexibility of working at home and reaches a wide audience so product prices don’t have to be limited to what would work at a store in a small community.
“People from around the world are buying these things,” she notes.
Robin Fator lives in Redding and sells tulle wedding skirts for $225, lace bridal gloves for $45 and many other special-occasion fashions through her successful Etsy business, Dark Pony Design.
“It started out slow as a part-time hobby,” she says. “Originally it was something to do for a creative outlet. As time has gone on, it has become a business – something that definitely helps support my family.”
She’s sold her fashions to customers in New York, Miami, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Dubai. Fator went through training to become a certified Etsy instructor and will teach the classes offered by JEDI in Redding. JEDI, based in Mount Shasta and devoted to strengthening local economies, is one of two Etsy-certified training organizations in California.
For women struggling economically, an Etsy store can supplement income or replace a day job, Fator says. The classes will help those who have a creative idea but aren’t sure how to make it work, she adds.
“I think it could be a really powerful thing for this area,” Fator says.
Barber says participants will be eligible for free one-on-one counseling from JEDI for help with their business ventures.
JEDI received a $10,000 grant from The Women’s Fund. In addition to the Etsy classes, the money will pay for two Women Thrive events in Redding. The first is scheduled June 10 at Simpson University. The program, geared to 80 or so participants, will offer inspiration and skill-building strategies, as well as a networking luncheon. Di Strachan, winner of a Visit California Poppy Award for a San Luis Obispo County tourism program, is guest speaker.
The second Women Thrive event is Aug. 2 and will give businesswomen a chance to showcase their products and services. Details are still in the works.
Call Jenny Payton at 530-926-6670 for details or reservations for the upcoming programs. To learn more about JEDI, visit e-jedi.org.