Home NewsUpdates What’s happening at Folksy – September 2011

What’s happening at Folksy – September 2011

by James
Folksy Featured Seller item Folksy Featured Seller item Folksy Featured Seller item Folksy Featured Seller item Folksy Featured Seller item

A selection of items from August’s most visited shops

Hello and welcome to another edition of the Folksy Monthly Update.  September marks the beginning of the autumn season on Folksy and the planning for the Christmas period is well under way.  We have lots to tell you this month about the site development work and our Christmas PR campaign so read on, this will also be our last Monthly update as we’ve decided to include this information in the seller email starting next week.

August Statistics

  • Orders for August were up 47% compared to August 2010.
  • We had visits from 314,154 different people, this is an increase of 75% on August 2010.
  • The 5 most popular search terms in August were: Christmas, Bunting, cards, crochet, cushion
  • Congratulations to Nikki McWilliams, CutiePies, SewYou Handmade, Pants and Paper and Gemma Nemer who were our most visited shops in August.

Folksy re-design

We’re delighted to announce that the site re-design work has officially started.  We have wanted to make improvements to the site navigation for quite some time and also allow buyers to find easier ways to discover items on the site.  The first phase of the site re-design will be finished in November, this work will concentrate on the homepage, site navigation and categories, after this launch in November, work on some of the other pages on the site will continue to be rolled out.  Our next update in October will include some information about changes to the category system but good news for our Supplies sellers is that we will be introducing categories for Supplies.


As most of you know we’re working hard to make Folksy the best place to find handmade gifts and craft supplies and in the process supporting UK makers and designers.  We’re growing, and as a consequence we’ve passed the VAT threshold, currently 20% in the UK (Most other countries and states seem to have lower sales tax). You’ll start to see the VAT on your bill soon. For the last two months we’ve paid VAT on all the bills (listing fees and commission fees) and we’re going to continue to do this for another two months, until the new site has launched in early November. From November we’ll be charging VAT and collectively we’ll be making our own contribution to the UK coffers. We hope that you’ll see the benefit of this small increase in fees reflected in the work on the site and PR and of course, sales.  You may want to pass this small increase on in the price of your items.

What can I sell on Folksy?

We have recently made some changes to clarify Folksy’s position on the What you can and can’t sell articles on Knowledgebase, these have now been combined into one page of information.  Part of this recent clarification concerns what Folksy considers to be a handmade item so we have split this clearly into two different areas.  At least one of the following criteria must be met to list a handmade item on Folksy:

  • Majority Handmade: The item is handmade by you and includes a majority of handmade components or is made through a craft practice for example knitting, drawing, lino cutting or woodwork.
  • Original Design: The only exception to the point above is when the item has an original design, such as knitted garments made using mass produced wool or handbags made using mass produced fabric. Also, the item may not be made by you (e.g. prints of illustrations or decals of original artwork) but must be your original design and not a copy of someone else’s.

This clarification will mean that some products that were previously sold on the site will now not fall under these criteria.  We have decided to put this policy into place from now for all new items listed.  For items that are currently on the site, the policy will apply from 1st November.  That gives any affected sellers 2 months to sell their stock, delist or edit to alter the listing to a suitable item.

Seller email

The first seller specific email newsletter was sent out last week and included some important information for sellers about recent changes to terms on Folksy.  The second email will be sent next week and will include the Monthly update information.  We understand not all of our sellers read the blog or visit the forums so direct seller emails are the best way to communicate effectively with all our sellers.  The seller newsletter will be sent out monthly and will include the information that is usually posted in the monthly update blog posts such as statistics and important site news, then additional content will be added over time such as helpful seller articles as the newsletter develops.  We’d like to make these newsletters as useful as possible so please let us know what you would like us to include by adding a comment to this post.

Christmas PR campaign

The PR work is being set up and we’ll be doing regular feature lists of items and crafts people to send out to journalists. We may be contacting you to source high resolution images of your work and your studio (or work space) in the coming months for our regular journalists’ pack. We’re hiring a PR and Marketing intern in to help us with some of this work. If you know of anyone who might be interested please share the post http://blog.folksy.com/jobs with them.

Grandma is waiting print

Thank you for supporting Folksy!  If you have any questions or queries then please contact Support on support@folksy.co.uk.  We’ll be back in touch soon with all your useful seller information in the next Seller newsletter, bye for now.

:) The Folksy Team – Sarah, James, Andrew, Doug, Frankie, Sian and Emily.

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Maisy Muffin September 6, 2011 - 9:01 pm

Sounds exciting.!’m looking forward to all the new improvements coming up in the next few months. I love Folksy now and it sounds like it’s going to be even better! Martine

Zoe / Zebedee September 6, 2011 - 9:04 pm

Great to know about whats going on behind the scene / screen. Thank you for the update. Zoe x

Christine September 6, 2011 - 9:56 pm

Looking forward to seeing & using the much needed new categories for supplies……yayyyy !!!!

Flora September 6, 2011 - 11:25 pm

Sounds like some exciting developments ahead :) Also sounds like I’d better pull my finger out on my Christmas pieces!

Linda September 7, 2011 - 7:29 am

I like the sound of the newsletter and, like Flora, I will have to get into gear for Christmas

Leanne September 7, 2011 - 11:04 am

Most magazine and journalists have already finalised their Christmas editions as all Christmas PR needs to be done by July/August. If your only getting an intern now, you missed the boat………

Rachael September 7, 2011 - 2:27 pm

Tbh, it’s only the big glossy mags who work so far in advance on features and they’re not really Folksy’s target market/audience anyway.
Looking forward to seeing the new look Folksy!

kat September 7, 2011 - 2:54 pm

I agree – most journalists on regional/specialist magazines and general newspapers have only given a fleeting thought to Christmas. I know this… I am one.

Leanne September 7, 2011 - 3:04 pm

Fair enough @Rachael and Kat. I retract my earlier statement.

Nicole Bromley September 7, 2011 - 3:06 pm

If you live in Guernsey which is VAT exempt are you able to remove this from the new billings?

Lucy Farfort September 7, 2011 - 3:33 pm

Thanks Folksy. I’m really pleased to hear that you’re revising the terms pf what constitutes ‘handmade’. As i see a lot of the same products, which is just made from a combination of mass produced items put together.
Although some of this stuff is still really nice, i feel that these things should not be classed as handmade.

As someone who creates their own designs, i feel pretty despondent when i see a product which only consists of bought in bits, masquerading as handmade when i know it has taken minutes to put together.
Sorry for the rant.

Margaret September 8, 2011 - 9:09 am

I’m very disappointed in the change of direction that Folksy has taken and the way that some lovely and talented sellers are having their work looked down upon because some think their work is not handmade enough. These items still take skill and artistic flair to create, and part of the appeal of Folksy to me was the sheer variety of goods on offer and the way that many different types of creativity could be found under the same roof, this seems to no longer be the case and I’m concerned about the further changes to come.

Margaret (Louisa15)

caroline September 8, 2011 - 9:27 am

There is a lot of ill feeling flying around about the changes being made. There is also lots of confusion. It mainly seems to be around what is and isn’t allowed, and how those decisions are reached- and whether those decisions are being reached fairly and equitably.
To help clarify things I think it would be useful for sellers to see some examples of things that have been accepted and some similar that have been refused. Then be given the reasoning behind these examples.
Questions to ask.
1. Who is deciding? Is it a judgement call, or a matter of opinion? Is it one person, or a few all using their own judgement?
2. Are those making the decision clear as to the criteria? Is the criteria they are using that which was listed yesterday in the support email, have they taken into account the extra info sent out yesterday as clarification, which appears to muddy the water?
3. Is someone else arbitrating where there is disagreement?
4. Is there a right of appeal?
5. The new rules are a clarification, please can you present a ‘before and after’ so it clear what has been clarified.

Kind Regards

james September 8, 2011 - 10:27 am

@Leanne yes, many publications complete their Christmas editions in July or earlier. We’re aiming for the weeklies and even daily publications though which we feel is a good start. The long lead times of monthly magazines doesn’t suit a marketplace that well, but we’ll definitely be doing longer term planning for publicity going forward.

Jenny September 8, 2011 - 11:34 am

I agree with those principles of orginal design and hand made v hand assembled as it is stated BUT some sellers in particular jewellery items you have told sellers their creations are hand assembled not handmade so therefeore not appropriate for Folksy then other shops have done exactly same thing, same process, same amount of time spent and told theirs is okay, the same rule is not being applied equally and fairly to sellers and shops.

Would it not be better to have some process when shops open of photos submitted of some of their items in the category they are going to list in so you can advise them if their items are “handmade” v “hand assembled”? rather than only take action if other sellers report “inappropriate content” of others work?

Hope to hear a reply soon about this.


heather aka NiftyKnits September 8, 2011 - 12:00 pm

Firstly, I’m very pleased that you are now emailing all sellers, and not assuming that they will read the blog/twitter/whatever.

I’m also pleased that you’re cracking down on items that aren’t handmade. – although, personally, I don’t have an issue with *some* so-called assembled jewellery when artistic input has clearly taken place. Others…not so much.

However, like Jenny and Caroline above I wonder who is doing the vetting? It is very hard to be sure about anything outside your own field. When I started out, I was under the impression that if I’d bought a knitting pattern, it was OK to sell the finished knit. I was soon told that wasn’t the case – but by fellow knitters, not by admin.

How will you know?

If you’re relying on items being reported, will you check for other similar items? Will you be able to be sure that it’s not just a seller trying to remove competition? One of my knits was removed from “another site” recently – there are currently 600 other active items that *could* fail under the same rule.

What saddens me most is how much ill-feeling this has caused.

james September 8, 2011 - 2:46 pm

@heather hello, well the original design criteria only applies if your item is not hand crafted using a craft skill. We could not hope to police the copyright of every single item before it was sold. The onus is on the maker or designer to do this (as it is with most retail) and where others’ notice a breach of copyright to flag this up. It is such a shame that ill feeling has been fostered (and even promoted by some). We do understand some people feel hurt at not being able to use Folksy to sell their work and in a way we feel flattered that people care so much. But there are other services that support non-handmade / assembled work. We must focus on offering a better service for those committed to handmade.

Esme September 8, 2011 - 3:12 pm

I won’t pass anymore comment on the what fits handmade criteria other than its a shame people felt they had to leave folksy.

I am interested in the new site redesign, are you going to be expanding supplies so that handmade supplies are easier too find, as at the moment some are listed as handmade and some in supplies, which get mixed in with the non handmade supplies. No offence to the commercial supplies (i like both), but sometimes its nice to see the distinction between the two when tying to find things.

I also have a question about the VAT will you be adding it on to each listing/fvf or just adding a VAT total too our bills at the end of each month. Just so I know :-)

james September 8, 2011 - 3:54 pm

Hi @Esme,
Yes! Supplies will start to be treated differently and we’ll start to have a clear segmentation of handmade supplies and commercial supplies. Each will have its own category with its own sub-categories. It’s one of the things we’re super excited about.
VAT will be added to your monthly bills and will be added on the total amount (listing and commission) you owe.
Hope this helps :)

james September 8, 2011 - 4:12 pm

Hi @Jenny,
We don’t really consider time as a criteria for something being handmade. The craft skill and the artistry in the design are the key things. People don’t usually pay for time invested in an object per se, they pay for the skill and the design. Some people have been informed their work does not qualify because it is assembled with no original design, whereas others are making things from an original design.

Your suggestion about moderation is very welcome. We’ve been looking at ways to make the process of moderation simpler, including ‘accreditation’ when you set up a shop, however, this is not something that is in scope for the current round of work.
Best, James

Esme September 8, 2011 - 5:18 pm

@James Thank you for the info on the VAT and will look forward to the coming changes too supplies, sounds good :-)

heather aka NiftyKnits September 8, 2011 - 8:15 pm

@james: you say “@heather hello, well the original design criteria only applies if your item is not hand crafted using a craft skill. We could not hope to police the copyright of every single item before it was sold. The onus is on the maker or designer to do this (as it is with most retail) and where others’ notice a breach of copyright to flag this up.”

BUT in the September Sellers newsletter it states: “for example knitting (either using a pattern you have created or one that you have permission to use)”

Will people using copyright-protected patterns be required to state and prove that they have permission?

Jamie Fry September 8, 2011 - 8:46 pm

From what I have read this is a huge disappointment for me as I figure you will say most of my items are no longer allowed on the site and therefore i will have to either change what i offer or give up on this site. WHat I will say is that my items are handmade, a robot didn’t assemble them, I only have a few of each and are not mass produced and I can spend many hours upcycling finds and designing items using colour combinations and different components.I think Folksy are in danger of losing some loyal users.

TheCraftyBride September 9, 2011 - 2:07 am

I have kept out of the debate on the forums but I have read all of the comments in the main threads about it. I do agree that this process was much needed as it was starting to look like Ebay sometimes, the same old same old kind of thing. I know many people are angry and upset but if they enjoyed their craft and took pride in their work then surely they would want to move on from threading a pendant on a string and to challenge themselves to make something more complex and unique. I am looking forward to seeing what this site will offer me in the future, hopefully a more professional platform.

Jenny Greenslade September 9, 2011 - 3:18 pm

Thank you James for your reply. I understand that time is not criteria for handmade therefore can you tell me specifically what type of earrings are okay to list? Beaded on a headpin on fish hook? As some have been allowed with for instance couple beads and bow on top and others with just crystal have and one of my items swarovski heart charm was not? Where is the design element in those items accepted. I don’t understand the difference still?

I think a lot of jewellery designers who have read the forums are not 100% clear what is okay and what is not regarding earrings, necklaces, pendants and bracelets.

You have categorised one whole section for pendants yet if we cannot have one pendant as a focal on a chain are we therefore only allowed to bead with a focal pendant? that is not clear.

Hope to hear from you in detail.


Jenny Greenslade September 9, 2011 - 5:14 pm


Sorry to seem a bit pedantic but also if i were to use a blank copper or brass or sterling silver circle disc and for instance hammer it, stamp words on it with metal letter stamps, oxidise it and add beads and charm would that be classed as an original design then? as lots of different techniques and skills are required. The same sort of thing with a pendant if i rivet and stamp hammer oxidise on a blank circle of metal and beads at the top too plus a small brass charm it would be an original design using more skills than putting a pendant which has been bought on a chain regardless of how long it took me, although it would take a lot longer to make and design with the different elements to look right.

I see that the jewellery on Folksy will become more intricate with more skills creating them with the tightened up criteria I just hope that they do result in sales thats all and that more promotion in November is forthcoming as at yet no friends of mine have heard of Folksy that i have mentioned too so it would be excellent if Folksy does is found more easily via internet.

Thank you


Tom's Photography Store September 10, 2011 - 4:36 pm

Quoting from your page on “What can I sell on Folksy?” Here is point 2:
“2. Assembled items

We don’t allow items on Folksy that have been simply ‘assembled’ from mass produced components with no original design involved, for example:
■Nappy cakes, gift baskets etc.
■Assembled jewellery, this when the defining characteristic of the item is the charm or mass produced piece on it, for example, a mass produced charm attached to a chain.”

Surely, there must be some sort of “original design” in the piece of jewellry even if the “defining characteristic of the item is the charm or mass produced piece on it” where the item is just NOT purely “a mass produced charm attached to a chain”.

Also, where do we stand on selling photography?

zotodesigns September 11, 2011 - 1:49 am

All I know is I have a hobby I make it, I sell, I buy new hobby stuff from it! I pay tax and ni from it and from my 60 hour boring job! I pay a fee to advertise and a fee if I actually sell it! So why do I have to pay their bills too? So to sum it up I pay vat when I buy the roar materials and vat when I sell them again?!! Oh well it was a good site while it lasted, let’s hope they see sense sooner than later.

Sue September 11, 2011 - 12:33 pm


I understand what you say about VAT however, this is the world we live in. From many suppliers I buy from you also pay VAT on the postage – that’s pants, but it is life.

jamesb September 11, 2011 - 4:34 pm

@Heather – we will not be actively asking for proof of knitting patterns used in every listing. In listing on Folksy you are legally obliged to follow copyright legislation so the onus is on you to use non-copyrighted patterns. If we find patterns have been used which are copyrighted then we will be forced to remove them according to our terms (and Eng and Welsh law).

@Tom’s Photography Store – well, we see an original item as being something which the designer or maker has brought their artistic vision to, something which is unique. Ultimately our view is based on what we believe the buyer interprets as ‘handmade’. It’s not black and white, however, and there will as ever be some judgement we have to make. But people will know if they are obviously copying the designs of others. Photography is fine to list, if it is your photographic work. If you have specific queries about your work pls do contact support.

@Janny Greenslade – hello. I think what you’re getting at is where does craft skill start / stop. Where craft skills have been used that involve high skill and technique, then it is fine. Where something has been ‘assembled’ from bought parts with no craft skills as such, then it wouldn’t.

The VAT question! VAT is a sales tax applied wherever the service provider is based (hence the large number of internet sales companies re-locating to Jersey!) and as we’re based in England we are legally bound to charge 20% on our invoices.

Do please contact support for any individual queries, and thank you to all those who are providing constructive feedback. We appreciate the communications around this were not handled as well as they could have been. We didn’t envisage the reaction we have had, but we’re trying to respond to each individual, justify our decisions and be fair in our support of what we think is handmade.

Best, James.

TheUrbanTiger September 13, 2011 - 3:44 am

With the VAT -what will be the increase on sellers fees and listing fees?

Comments are closed.