The rise of e-commerce platforms, such as Shopify and Etsy, has made it easier than ever to start small businesses. In 2020, there was a 14% increase in e-commerce in the U.S., with greater increases in other countries (UN, 2021). The creative professions (artists, designers, and writers) have especially flourished on these sites, offering unique products without a physical store location. Talking directly to two creative entrepreneurs can give insight into the unique ways that they market and think about their creations.
Allison Warren, founder and owner of ModernPlum, a Chicago-based textile company, has been selling products online since 2014. She says that “the starting place [for artistic entrepreneurs] is not necessarily only to make money or scale. Creative people like to keep operations tight, and remain engrossed in the making process”. These “tight operations” that Allison mentions makes starting a creative business online a profitable option for sellers. Although e-commerce platforms charge a small fee for usage, they make products available on the world market, and can help businesses just starting out access large segments of the population.
One teenager, Caroline Thies, began her own business, Life Still Is, in July 2020. She sells custom prints and hand-made products focusing on resilience. Caroline uses social media to market her company, and calls it “a science [that] really helps you succeed”. Caroline also recommends using multiple sources for marketing; she uses a weekly newsletter, a YouTube channel, Instagram, and Etsy. The growth of her business demonstrates that young people can be successful and that there are many tools available to help them succeed.
Entrepreneurs like Caroline and Allison are not unusual. The creative professions are ranked 7th in the United States for the highest number of self-employed workers (Simovic, 2021). Using tools such as social media, online selling, and other tools can help these small sellers access a wide consumer base and break into a market dominated by large corporations. Teenagers and other young people especially, can profit by celebrating and sharing their unique creative talents with the world.