Shared from the 11/14/2016 Panama City eEdition

Bay artists make long-distance connections

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Lucy Langlois creates and sells handmade art pieces on Etsy from her garage. PHOTOS BY HEATHER HOWARD/THE NEWS HERALD

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A mosaic turtle, created by Lucy Langlois, features tempered glass, discarded from car windshields, as its scaly skin.

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BELOW: A collection of Langlois’ many-colored supplies are seen in her Panama City garage studio.

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Lucy Langlois creates and sells handmade art pieces on Etsy from her garage.

HEATHER HOWARD/THE NEWS HERALD

Every weekday artist Lucy Langlois brings coastal-themed mosaic boards, colorful wooden octopuses and mermaid designs to life in her Panama City Beach garage studio.

She starts each piece of art by hand-cutting wood into whatever shape she desires and gradually adds vibrant colors or accessories. The whole process can take three days.

Her studio is filled will all the usual artist tools: paintbrushes, hammers, large and sturdy work tables. Her artwork—sometimes produced ahead of time, sometimes made-to-order and customized by whoever’s ordering—sells anywhere from $800 to $1,000.

But Langlois does not use a brick-and-mortar art gallery or store. She’s instead turned to the online marketplace Etsy where artists can sell their handmade items to customers—who may be in other states or countries.

The website is easy to use with searchable keywords and tags, Langlois said—though she added sellers should research their market before jumping in. This upcoming February will mark her fifth year using Etsy—which she promotes through Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

“I went online in 2012,” she said. “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done... Etsy and the Internet, they’re specifically for your item. You’re able to target a lot more people.”

The amount of items she sells varies—while Langlois declined to say what her average income was, her artwork is a fulltime job. She does her own shipping and has sent items all across the world. Some customers have vacationed in the area and stopped by her house to pick up an item after ordering, she said.

Local sales

Langlois is not the only person using Etsy. T h o u g h E t s y w o u l d n o t i n f o r m a t i o n o n how many people use it locally and statewide, the Bay County Chamber of Commerce said it’s something that’s caught on in the area.

“We have not seen any specific impact from Etsy, but I do know several of our members that sell their items locally and online which has boosted their sales and reached customers outside of Bay County,” Brittany Cole, Chamber of Commerce vice president of communications, said. “This is just another way that we can help put Bay County on the map and visitors can see what great businesses we have here and how creative they are.”

Brick-and-mortar

stores can co-exist with Etsy and many local businesses sell items both in their store and online, Cole added. Social media is also another tool businesses use to promote their brands, she said.

“We encourage everyone to shop local not only during the holiday season, but year round,” Cole added. “If you do shop at Etsy, please try to find local retailers that use the website. Shop local and support your friends and neighbors.”

Growing use

Etsy was founded in Brooklyn in 2005 and currently has over 27 million buyers and 40 million items for sale, according to their website. These transactions take place throughout the world, the company said.

There are 1.7 million active sellers and in 2015 annual gross merchandise sales were $2.39 billion. Still headquartered in Brooklyn, the company also has offices in Germany, Ireland, France and other countries.

In the second quarter of 2016—which ended June 30—the company’s revenue grew by 39 percent, according to a press release.

“During the second quarter, we expanded our global community to include approximately 1.7 million active sellers and 26.1 million active buyers,” Etsy CEO and chair Chad Dickerson said in the release. “We... provided high impact services to help our creative entrepreneurs start, grow and manage their businesses. This continued focus and discipline led to growth across all of our key metrics and, as a result, we are raising our financial outlook for 2016.”

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