The Etsy for independent sellers and conscious consumers seeking an “uncensored artistic community” is called Witchsy. Beginning in 2015, cofounders Penelope Gazin and Kate Dwyer turned away from established platforms to pursue authenticity and a certain “lawlessness” that did not exist elsewhere.
In its first two years of operation, e-commerce platform Witchsy.com saw nearly $610,000 in revenue and has since been connecting rising artistic talent directly with the consumer. Not losing the essence of its founders, both still answer all customer support e-mails.
Witchsy speaks to a largely female-identifying consumer. And the demands of this shopper are clear: discover new artists, support social causes and connect with an abrasive feminist agenda that hasn’t been allowed to exist without moderation previously.
“We wanted to create a space that wasn’t hindered by censorship rules that are dated and give a space for artists of a high caliber to express themselves,” Dwyer said to WWD on how Witchsy differentiates itself among other creative marketplaces.
Historically “powered by people,” creative marketplaces are intended to champion the artist and satiate a consumer appetite for product discovery. Companies such as Etsy, Tictail, UncommonGoods and now Witchsy are among those supplying storefronts or independent “shops” within their larger global communities for artists and makers to display their goods to thoughtful consumers.
It’s a vibrant market, and as of June, Etsy estimated a buying market of nearly 36 million consumers, according to its financial report.
Offering product categories such as pins and patches, art, style and lifestyle — Witchsy unveils “socially aware” collections in which a portion of profits are donated to causes including the Anti-Violence Project and the ACLU, among others.
According to Dwyer, these consumers resonate with brands championing conscious consumption and a strong storyline rooted in its DNA. Close by, a localist mentality is appealing because it “feels personable and like a local community” within a proliferation of goods online and increasingly automated shopping experiences that may limit opportunity for human connection.
“There is a growing trend for authenticity and conscious consuming,” Dwyer said.
But while authenticity is trending as a major purchase motive across mass market and luxury price points, Dwyer said companies hopping on this bandwagon as a means to stay competitive will likely falter. Consumers can sense falsely aligned missions — and for competitive differentiation, companies must make their mission an extension of themselves.
With a constantly evolving product curation and platform for discovering emerging artists, Witchsy hopes to stay ahead of the curve. Next steps include growing its base of more than 22,000 sales transactions while staying close to its “lawless roots” and socially aware mission inherent in both founders.