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ami and branda at Etsy Hudson Siobhan Connally.jpg

etsyhudson exterior Siobhan Connally.jpg

Inside Etsy Hudson

Etsy Hudson. Yep, you want to work there.

By Siobhan Connally

Inside a sprawling, former cannonball factory in Hudson, 17 deeply creative souls mill about quietly creating magic.

Their daily mission? To make Etsy safe for humanity. Well, that and hula-hooping.

Working at Etsy Hudson may be as close to internet superherodom as mere mortals can come.

It also might just be the best job on the planet.

Many of the photos from this post are also in large format at the top of the page.

"There aren't many days where the clock strikes six and the place clears out," laughs Ami Lahoff, office and facilities manager of Etsy Hudson.

"I think of myself as a house mother. In a lot of ways I think it's really true. I am a mom and this is a young company. Some days I'm carrying around tools, putting up signage, and other days I'm meeting the public and providing support."

What they do

With 14 million members, 800,000 shops and more than $500 million in sales last year alone, Etsy has grown by leaps and bounds since it was created in 2005. And it's still growing.

"When we expand, it will happen here," said Lahoff noting that with new programs and services Etsy thinkers are always innovating.

etsyhudson exterior Siobhan Connally.jpg

Right now, what mostly happens in Hudson is customer service. Building community is their ultimate goal.

They spend their days answering emails, searching the interwebs for sellers and buyers in need of assistance and, perhaps most amazingly, turning a collection of random crafters and consumers into a tight-knit community.

"We get lots of love letters," says Lahoff, who notes that the buzz around them has been steady since Etsy opened the support services center last year.

"People who are new to Etsy, whether buyers or sellers, don't always understand how Etsy works. New buyers often get confused that they're buying from individual craftspeople and not directly from Etsy. They sometimes need help contacting sellers but they just don't realize how to do it."

New sellers are also surprised to find just how much support is available to them.

"We really are here to help them whether they need help to set up their shop or to make their shop better," said Lahoff, noting that it's not an impersonal system either. "We encourage people here to use their voice in their responses. We don't want to sound like robots and we don't. We sound like the way we talk."

"It's really a trickle up process here," says Branda Maholtz, assistant site lead and project manager. "We are the first line and when there's a problem or when there's something good happening we're the first to know. It's heartwarming that we get to help someone."

The Hudson location has always been considered an annex to Etsy's DUMBO office in Brooklyn.

"There are over 200 people in DUMBO. They're running out of space. When the founder of Etsy saw this place ... with a train nearby and also a thriving community of self-employed people, it was a perfect fit. There's a really close connection between product and makers and that's what Etsy is really all about."

The perks of working at Etsy

Etsy Hudson has two full kitchens with pantries stocked with locally procured snacks. Lunch is served to staff two days a week.

Yep, that's a boat near the Etsy Hudson lunch table. Why not?

The design of the work area is open, with desks arranged in pods for unfettered communication.

More private areas are available for video and phone conferences, as well as comfortable chairs scattered in living room setups for those who need to stretch their legs or get a change of scenery.

Natural light pours in to the upstairs office.

The upstairs kitchen, constructed by a local carpenter, has salvaged doors and windows, low VOC and natural beeswax finishes as well as poured concrete planter boxes.

Dogs are welcome.

vega the dog at Etsy Siobhan Connally.jpg

An apothecary in the Etsy offices -- available to staff and visiting public -- offers natural remedies for everything from headache to heartburn.

apothecary at Etsy Siobhan Connally.jpg

A pool table was purchased locally at ReStore.

Thumbnail image for pool table Etsy Hudson Siobhan Connally

Hula hoops are propped up in various areas. Employees find it stress relieving and helps them keep their creative juices flowing.

hoops2 Etsy Hudson Siobhan Connally.jpg

The décor at Etsy Hudson is often made by Etsy sellers as well as local shops and craftspeople.

One room, dubbed the Old West Room, is slowly taking shape with the help of local salvage stores and even one Etsy seller who came to the Hudson facility in person for help starting his shop.

Ami Lahoff stands in the Western Room of Etsy's upstairs offices.

"He was the cutest old dairy farmer, and he made lamps out of stanchions that used to keep the cows in place as they were being milked," said Lahoff. "He came out a couple of times for help with the website and when we saw what he was doing we knew we had to have one for our Old West Room. We were his first customers on Etsy."

It's this kind of interaction, as well as a sense of group independence, that keeps employees smiling.

Etsy folks have flexible working schedules, many working four days in the office and one day from home. They also have unlimited sick time, something Lahoff says encourages people to rest and recover rather than spreading illness around.

Twice a week the downstairs community area (recently made available when the office proper relocated upstairs) offers yoga classes and even a book club, both of which are also open to the public. Every Tuesday and Thursday employees share a catered meal they call Eatsy. Also on Thursdays guest speakers from the community come to share the fare and a bit of a chat.

"The speakers invite the next speaker and it's always a surprise. We've had a lot of interesting conversations that way."

Etsy is also a group that cherishes celebrations -- anniversaries, holidays, birthdays offer ample reasons for busting open a pinata filled with bouncy balls or sipping on mid-afternoon root-beer floats. Etsy Hudson also implemented a Thirsty Thursday where coworkers kick back, drink a beer or a glass of wine after a hard day's work and play a game of darts.

Fostering a safe, creative environment has always been the mission of Etsy corporate.

Etsy Labs

Starting in May the community will see more of Etsy, inside and out.

"I think the number one thing people approach us about is how we can work together as a community. How we can collaborate. How they can use the space. Yes, we want to do more of that. That's always been the goal," said Lahoff, who joined Etsy in September.

Plans are in the works for an open house in May as well as monthly craft events. More community engagement is also in store, with collaborations between other local organizations. In April, Etsy will be one of the venues for the Hudson Opera House Movable Feast fundraiser. They'll also collaborate with Habitat for Humanity's Hudson ReStore for an Earth Day project.

Branda Maholtz shows off some of the equipment Etsy has for crafting events.

colored threads

"Whenever people find out I work for Etsy, the thing they're most curious about is when we're going to have a an event and how they can get involved," laughs Lahoff, noting that they've learned that, in this small city, sometimes the best ways to spread the word about events are decidedly lower tech than they're used to.

"I'm always saying check our Meetup page. This is a flyer town. If we're going to get people to look at our calendar, if we're going to have a comprehensive calendar, we have to get them here with a flyer. The supermarket bulletin boards are huge and people are seriously getting stuff done on those bulletin boards, big time," laughs Lahoff.

"I got my vet on a bulletin board. She was advertising that she does home visits."

Siobhan Connally shares her writing and photography at Ittybits & Pieces.

Find It

Etsy Hudson
359-361 Columbia Street
Hudson, NY 12534


All those crafters and no one with an iron handy to get the folds out of their lovely banner?

OMG I love Etsy! Thanks for this article - I had no idea. How awesome.

my mind. it's blown.
and I would SO steal that dog.

I've been kicking myself all year since the job postings went up and I didn't send in my resume! Ahh! This looks amazing!

I had no idea they'd opened up offices in Hudson!

It's so great to see businesses setting up office space there. It's a wonderful community, and places like this are a good balance to the Warren St. restaurants/antique shops/boutiques extravaganza.

Now if we could only get Regretsy to open a space in Albany.

AMEN Eschatologist!

This shows how old I am: as I was reading this fascinating post on working conditions that include hoola hoops, dogs welcome, snacks, birthday pinatas....my thoughts automatically turned to: what's the salary scale, benefits, pension plan? I guess that makes me a dinosaur (and a unionized dinosaur, so I'm doubly extinct).

Really -- I'd love to work at Etsy. After I retire with my defined pension. (Thanks, Tier IV !)

@chrisck It is funny how focusing on pay and perks in the pay department end up defeating hula hoops and dogs.

I would love to bring my dog to work - but I prefer being able to afford a comfortable life for both of us and not having him being allowed in the office.

Ah, 'tis true this need for healthcare and retirement plans. But the idea of having fun at your job and paying your bills doesn't have to be a trade off. See Etsy's careers page here: http://www.etsy.com/careers/

In addition to dogs and bikes and generous time off, it also notes company-paid health benefits for employees.

I agree with Siobhan. And considering how much of our daily lives is spent at work, I think I'd be willing to accept a slightly lower salary in exchange for loving my job. There's a lot to be said for that, and as Siobhan pointed out, they do offer bennies. Besides, I've worked jobs that I didn't love and that didn't pay well!

I think it's just a matter of finding the balance of what's most important to you. Having just recently visited a friend who works at Google, I think I'm definitely down with workplaces that are making attempts to make your time spent there more pleasant.

Siobhan & Jess:

I don't disagree. And Etsy may indeed have a good balance.(Unlimited sick days? My union had to fight for 3 extra days sick for me.) But I'm a labor activist and sometimes wonder if young people trade off serious economic compensation -- things they may value more in the future when they are raising families or planning for their old age -- for fun work environments. It's great if you can have both, but don't get bought off by hoola hoops.

Bread and roses! Bread and hoola hoops!

I agree with chrisck - my idea of work benefits nowadays doesn't just include health insurance. That is nice, but I also look at additional school/career opportunities offered, pension or 401k availabilities, cash or other types of financial bonuses... If a company is going to make a certain amount off of me, I would like to be paid for my work.

I think most young people now are grateful to have any job at all. Having a job that offers benefits? Amazing! And unheard of for me in the last... uh, seven years.

Earlier this decade, I kept a job that made me miserable and didn't pay a living wage, because it had great health insurance. I wouldn't choose a fun job over a well-compensated one. I value financial security more than I value free lunches. But Etsy's benefits are as good as other similar companies.

I love the fact that they took their passion and made a business out of it. They are actively part of revitalizing their community with jobs, reusing old buildings and giving a chance to artisans to make a living from their craft. It's the old co-op mentality that has worked for centuries. Way to go!

My dream is to move to the catskills region and write code from the comfort of my cabin. This just altered my dream to: move to the catskills region and write code in Etsy's hudson office. Beautiful.

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