Reviews of Homeward Bound

“3.5 out of 4 stars” - People Magazine                                                               “The brilliance of Emily Matchar’s new book is that it exhaustively describes what disillusioned workers are opting into: a slower, more sustainable, and more self-sufficient lifestyle that’s focused on the home. Matchar synthesizes dozens of trend stories … into a single, compelling narrative about the resurgence of domesticity….Refreshing.” -The New Republic                                                       "[P]rovocatively explores what the movement says about the role of women in society today.” – The New Yorker                                                                       "I unreservedly loved it…It’s empathetic and funny and thoughtful and smart, and I encourage all of you to read it."– The Hairpin                                                         “Cogently argues that choosing a more hands-on, DIY lifestyle – family farming, canning, crafting, can, without sacrificing feminism’s hard-won gains, improve on an earlier time when ‘people lived more lightly on the earth and relied less on corporations, and family and community came first.’” - ELLE                                                               “[I]ntelligent and insightful...essential reading.” - Christianity Today                                                       “A lively and perceptive reporter… a valuable and astute assessment.”—Publishers Weekly                                                         “A well-researched look at the resurgence of home life…. Offers intriguing insight into the renaissance of old-fashioned home traditions.”— Kirkus Reviews

What is New Domesticity?

This blog is a look at the social movement I call ‘New Domesticity’ – the fascination with reviving “lost” domestic arts like canning, bread-baking, knitting, chicken-raising, etc. Why are women of my generation, the daughters of post-Betty Friedan feminists, embracing the domestic tasks that our mothers and grandmothers so eagerly shrugged off? Why has the image of the blissfully domestic supermom overtaken the Sex & the City-style single urban careerist as the media’s feminine ideal? Where does this movement come from? What does it mean for women? For families? For society?                                                                                     My book, Homeward Bound: Why Women Are Embracing the New Domesticity, which explores New Domesticity in greater depth, will be published by Simon & Schuster in May 2013.

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The Etsy economy

etsy badge

My visitor name tag from Etsy. What DO I love??

On my recent East Coast trip, I got the chance to visit Etsy’s headquarters, in Brooklyn’s industrial-chic Dumbo neighborhood. The offices are just as cool as you might imagine – crocheted “sweaters” on the exposed ductwork, giant cardboard monster sculptures in the corridor, floor-to-ceiling murals of deer.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Etsy lately, and how it’s become the center of the new “handmade economy.” This economy also includes the indie craft fairs and artisan markets that have sprung up everywhere lately (pretty much every medium-to-large American city has sprouted a new, youth-oriented handmade fair in the past decade – here in the Triangle, we’ve got the Rock and Shop, founded in 2004). Our generation is not only into “making stuff,” we’re also into selling it.

But here’s my question: why are Etsy and all the handmade fairs so overwhelmingly female? Men like to make stuff too, obviously, and plenty of men are artists or designers. But when it comes to these new types of “buy handmade” microbusinesses – a type of business Etsy says is the wave of the future – there’s a lot of XX chromosome action. Something like 96 percent of Etsy sellers are women, and indie craft fairs are also heavily female-dominated. What about this kind of business appeals so much to women? Slate writer Sarah Mosle has a rather controversial answer. Any other thoughts?

7 comments to The Etsy economy

  • I’ve always seen Etsy as another version of an MLM, where a few at the top might be able to scrounge a living off of it, but it’s unrealistic for the majority of users. I think Sarah Mosle is right on–it’s a feminist fantasy for the stay-at-home mother, a dream to have it all without “sacrificing” home and children.

    • Laurence Topliffe

      Maren, I would like to write directly to you after reading your note about the change with Mormonism. I am not a Mormon nor am I a member of any religion. I am also not an atheist. I think you will find a conversation or two enlightening. Hope you’ll write me at forpeace (at) lisco (dot) com. Cheers, Laurence

  • For me, crafting is primarily a hobby projects are selected on a project-by-project basis, whether it be sewing a costume for the kids, or making them a custom alphabet scrapbook to practice their letter sounds. I just can’t see how anyone makes enough money to make it worth their time, effort, skills and supplies. I think this is why I don’t bother with Etsy, except as a buyer…and even then, my (few) purchases have come from people that specialize in harder to find custom work (like tin-work–I ordered a very nice historically accurate reproduction of a vasculum from the one and only tinner on Etsy), or people that I know IRL that sell through Etsy, and stuff that I don’t want to take the time to do myself (if the price is right).

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  • [...] my book, I delved a bit deeper into Etsy and the culture of e-commerce. Though I talked with lots of very happy, successful Etsy sellers, I also met lots of very [...]

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  • [...] “very very small” business model, which we’ve talked about/critiqued before on this blog, is getting a lot bigger. The online craft company is expanding into conventional retail, [...]