Folksy Ltd

Interview with James Boardwell about Folksy & how it started

Hi everyone. I thought you might all be interested in this. It’s an interview with James Boardwell about Folksy, why he started it and how it has grown since then. He talks about how important the forums have been to the growth of Folksy, his proudest moments so far and hints at some new directions we might be exploring later this year. He’s also really honest about the mistakes he believes we made back in 2012 which you’ll probably all remember if you were around back then.

I’d love to hear what you think.

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@folksycontent Ha! James worked in the department that I work in now! :grinning: I bet he knows some of the people I work with, who have been there from the start!

xx

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A very interesting and enjoyable read.

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Really interesting, now I know where it all began, didn’t have a clue, here’s to the future. :slight_smile:

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I loved reading this article!

As for FB they’re alienating us crafters at the moment (just look at some of the recent topics on this Forum). If they want to compete with the crafting platforms they will have to start treating us all much better!

Sam x

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really interesting to read…thanks for sharing…makes me feel more like a part of the family.

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Thank you for this James, it explains a lot.

You built a chat-room where incidentally people could sell. That’s why these forums are so friendly, but the shop tools less impressive. While it was new and fun and you weren’t looking for a salary it was all great.

Then you tried to go upmarket. You succeeded in driving away many of the Mums-at-home who were the inspiration for the project, but without the SEO and marketing to compete with the big guys.

It’s probably time to think long and hard about the future of Folksy.

If it’s for everyone, let them all come; take their listing fees and grow. If it’s a niche British Handmade only, then police it strictly and promote it proudly. If you want it to be a supplies shop you need a better search and category breakdown than the competition.

If you want it to return to being a chat-room then please say so. I already spend longer in the forums than looking at shops, and I’m probably not the only one.

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Musing on what I read yesterday and some of the other posts on this thread, I also came up with this.

It is a great strength that Folksy’s ethos is primarily to support handmade and to understand that it cannot be excessively monetised. That is where Google, Amazon and in the future, Facebook all come unstuck. They primarily look to monetise people who are already selling craft on their platforms whilst providing no support at all. There isn’t much point in looking for a “slice of a cake” when the cake is a cupcake, and your slice is two thirds of the cake.

Sam x

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A very interesting interview! Totally shocked at the level of attraction years ago being as high as 5m per year with thousands of listings per day. Now less than 4400 sellers on board and he says that emphasis for the future is - "We’re looking at becoming less reliant on end sales revenue."
Personally, with only one sale on here but none in my other shop, I had been seriously thinking of concentrating fully on this platform and fill up my shop. Now, I’m not convinced that the sellers on Folksy are at the forefront of the plans for the future.
I’m not sure what other people will think about his plans to concentrate on “learning and supplies” and what effect that’ll have on more established businesses or me just starting out?

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I’m not sure what concentrating on ‘learning and supplies’ means either or how I feel about it yet but I’m hoping after the 2012 debacle, which he does at least acknowledge they handled badly, they will give us all a chance to feedback on their plans.

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I have to admit, if I’m looking for supplies my first port of call is most likely to be Ebay, for the vast choice, range and value for money whereas if I’m looking for something handmade I think of Folksy.

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The way I’m reading this is…they are going to add something to do with learning, like sellers who offer classes and workshops can list these here? And perhaps add / increase the Supplies section and products? Well, it depends what Supplies mean, though. Is it like more Patterns and Tutorials for Crafts…?

Well, I don’t know…I hope the focus on Handmade, British Handmade that is, is huge here.

Up to the “big changes” in 2012, my shop was doing brilliantly. I had 200 sales in a year, which was equivalent to my first three years put together. Then, suddenly, the emphasis was on cutting edge new designers. There was a book featuring a group of them. Then a Renegade craft fair featuring the same group. We “old but reliable” sellers felt rejected. It seemed that Folksy management were more concerned with attracting more groovy young sellers than supporting the sellers they had.
My shop never picked up after that, but I’m still here. Where are the groovy young sellers? Gone somewhere more profitable, no doubt.
Sorry, perhaps not relevant, but time to get it off my chest…

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I too read the plans for the future with a bit of consternation. If the focus was to get more revenue from sales at least it would mean trying to increase the customer base for the existing shops, as it is it just looks like they are hoping to attract more sellers for the listing fees.
Over on the other side they are now focusing on supplies and tutorials, shame if Folksy follows suit.

“Octopusgate” was a debacle, but having done the clean up I wish it had been maintained.Lots of people up ed their game and lots left. It makes me cross that assembled mass produced charm on a hook type stuff is being allowed to gush back in.

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( just did a huge snork at “octopusgate” @DeborahJonesJewellery - i remember it well :wink:

  • reminisce * )
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Hello! Great to read your responses and feedback on that article (also snort, and cry, at “octopusgate” @DeborahJonesJewellery @fionaT).
Some people mentioned that they were concerned we would be moving in a new direction with supplies and ‘learning’, which I mention latterly in that article. We are very focused on supporting your needs as makers, with advice about selling and making, a marketplace platform to sell, and a forum to discuss things around making and selling.
Supplies is something that has come up as something we could offer and we ran a survey and did some research earlier this year to better understand if this is something that you wanted and it seems like it is (especially for ‘commercial’ type supplies). But it’s not a change in direction, rather something we could offer to you in addition to the other things. And that’s as far as we have taken it at the moment.
“Learning” is again something we’ve looked at, to offer tutorials to people interested in craft, both buyers and sellers coming to Folksy. But we would only do this if it proved something you would use (by trailing it). We’ve learnt that lesson (and yes, we were very naive and stupid and yes, we wish we could turn back the clock and do it differently :frowning: ).

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I personally miss the early days (2008-2010) when you would check the home page on folksy and never know what you would see - it was a stream of listings, organised by tag. It was fascinating and chaotic, not always showcasing what you and me might see as craft (and alienating some people)!

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Ha, probably, though it was 12 years ago now!

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@JamesB I’m going to look at my staffing list to see whose been here the longest and find out :wink:

Re the old days on Folksy, I really miss having a ‘non signed in’ homepage for shoppers that looks the same as the signed in homepage we have now. I think it would be more engaging for everyone to see what we see when we’re signed in, lots more items to tempt shoppers with, on what could be their first visit to the site. It might also bring us more views/customers to our shops again.

I’ll let you know if I find any old timers (not age-wise) in the office!

Natalie x

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Folksy seems to be for the young designer/maker. Take at look at the interviews section on the Blog, the designer interviews are definately short of the more mature person, and by that I mean the over 40’s age group.
Folksy has been losing a few shops lately and this must be a worrying trend. I thought the “Made in Yorkshire” was a little exclusive and so started the blog on the forum “made in somewhere else” which thanks to others has brought other counties to the forefront, but Folksy has ignored the potential of promoting makers from other areas. Take a look at the forum post “Made in the East Midlands”.
I loved designing/making/selling on Folksy but I like a fair playing field which is openly fair to all which I don’t think Folksy is.

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