Etsy CEO Josh Silverman on the online rise of the cottage industry during the pandemic

April 21, 2021, 11:45 PM UTC
Etsy CEO Josh Silverman on Leadership Next.
Photo courtesy of Etsy

During the early days of America’s head-on battle with COVID-19, news stories about shopping tended to focus on toilet paper and cleaning aisles of big-box stores. But while people were scrambling for packs of two-ply, online retailer Etsy, which gives crafters, artists, and other independent retailers a platform for selling their goods, saw explosive growth. And those sellers included 10,000 people who, within two or three days, started making masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Sales on the site more than doubled in 2020, says CEO Josh Silverman. “This was a time when opportunity met preparedness,” he says. “We had a time when Americans desperately needed all kinds of things, and the supply chains of the big mass retailers couldn’t keep up.”

Silverman joins Fortune’s Alan Murray and Ellen McGirt on this week’s episode of Leadership Next, a podcast about the changing rules of business leadership, to discuss the ways the “cottage industry came to the rescue [during COVID-19] through Etsy.”

During the conversation, Silverman also goes deep on the ways Etsy pushed to make sure that buyers were able to find what they wanted on the site—not an easy task when there are more than 80 million items for sale at any given time.

The two key factors for Etsy’s growth, says Silverman, who joined the company four years ago, are focus and accountability.

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