Give Back Tahoe: The Etsy Craft Entrepreneurship Program | SierraSun.com

Give Back Tahoe: The Etsy Craft Entrepreneurship Program

Special to the Sun

Our local economy is largely tourist-based. This means many jobs are low-wage with no benefits, and incomes fluctuate with weather.

Seventy-six percent of our workforce overpays for housing and too many local residents depend on critical service agencies when paychecks don't cover everything.

Now is the time to pursue viable solutions that will boost our local economy and support our families and residents.

Sierra Business Council (SBC), the Sierra Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and the Queen of Hearts Women's Fund are major players seeking innovative solutions.

Through their joint efforts, the inaugural Etsy Craft Entrepreneurship Program, whose mission is "to empower creative people in underserved communities to create pathways to entrepreneurship with Etsy," was completed in Truckee this March.

Kristin York, Director of Business Innovation at SBC, applied for the program after hearing success stories from other communities. Our region was identified as a perfect incubation site.

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Seeing the program's potential to cultivate economic stability for residents, the Queen of Hearts awarded it a $10,000 grant. Shortly thereafter, the program presented 12 instruction hours over 5 workshops to 19 participants, free of charge.

Krista Tranquilla, a local artist with pieces in 30 shops as well as Etsy, taught the Etsy provided curriculum. Etsy was a key step in developing her own business, and Krista know that the inside information and training will help entrepreneurs jumpstart their online businesses.

"Connecting with this 'new economy' helps local woodworkers, jewelry makers, invitation crafters and artisans become self-sustainable and boosts our community's economy," Kristin York hopes.

The classes covered best practices in photography, product descriptions, search engine optimization and more. Participants were overwhelmingly positive and several are pursuing SBC marketing and finance workshops.

With the Queen of Hearts' grant, the program will run several times. SBC has spoken with the North Tahoe and Truckee Family Resource Centers about running a bilingual or Spanish-led program.

As our region develops, we must be innovative about cultivating economic stability for all residents.

To participate in a series, email Jessica Perry Carr, SBC and SBDC Program Manager, at jcarr@sierrabusiness.org.