“Etsy has made it possible for a lot of small businesses to get off the ground,” says Dale Dougherty, co-founder of O’Reilly Media and the publisher of Make magazine, which covers the do-it-yourself economy. “But even the most successful crafters run up against the limits of their own labor. Handmade can be a limited idea.” In other words, the very qualities that make Etsy so attractive to new sellers put the most successful Etsy sellers in an awkward position: They must stay small or abandon Etsy. For founder Rob Kalin and his investors, the questions are even tougher: Can a site dedicated to DIY scale? Or is Etsy, despite Kalin’s ambition and grandiosity, just a small idea?
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