Welsh women excel in the Etsy world and become self-made businesswomen

Four independent businesswomen put Wales on the Etsy map and launch new self-made careers during the coronavirus pandemic

Etsy is slowly climbing the leader board for the UK’s number one online platform for women wanting to start their own business for free following Big Cartel and Ecwid. Credit: Biz Stone

The coronavirus pandemic hit every industry in Wales. From schools to retail clothing stores, the impact of the pandemic and lockdown led to redundancies, pay-cuts and losing working hours for many Welsh women.
A Covid-19 and E-commerce survey of 3,700 consumers suggested that Covid-19 has changed the way consumers shop, moving from the high street to a more digital world, as ‘online purchases have increased by 47 percent in November 2020.’

Etsy is an American e-commerce platform that encourages users to start-up their own business and sell products focused on handmade items. Founded in 2005, Etsy has been a global phenomenon to the way we shop. In 2020, Etsy’s annual revenue was $1,725.63, an increase of $906.84 from 2019.

The UK website, Etsy UK has seen an increase in female sellers joining the platform since the coronavirus pandemic. Jenny Gresham, an Etsy spokesperson said 86% of sellers in the UK are women, 82% of businesses on Etsy are one-person led, 94% of sellers run their shop from home and 43% run their creative businesses full-time. The stats show that Etsy has been the perfect platform for women struggling through lockdown and seeking an income during the pandemic.

Here are four case studies exploring how these Welsh women under Etsy’s seller demographic of females in rural areas, turned to Etsy during their time of need. Clicking the ‘create account’ button is all it took to give independent-business life a go.

The Loft Studios in Pembrokeshire and Little Cwtch Crafts in Newport are run by two women who self-taught their way through the Etsy business world to accomplish life off financial support and return to paying rent and bills without having to rely on their parents. The businesses have improved the mental health and wellbeing of both Jessica Cox and Zoë Little who admitted to struggling with the lack of routine and work responsibility.

From unemployed to self-employed 

The New Enterprise Allowance (NEA), a financial support scheme that provides start-up businesses with a £66 weekly allowance during their first business period. To receive the benefit, the Welsh government state, 'You need to be receiving certain benefits and have a business idea that could work.'
Rising to success

The Loft Studios based in Pembrokeshire is run by 37-year-old Jessica Cox who started the online business during the first lockdown period in March 2020.

The online store found success on Etsy following Jessica’s decision to become an independent businesswoman, after the Covid-19 pandemic prevented her from following her career path and seeking a job in graphic design. 

Jessica Cox celebrating a milestone sale on Etsy in November 2020. Credit: Jessica Cox

The ONS state that 42,000 people in Wales who were seeking work between March and May 2020, were left unemployed during the first lockdown period due to the Covid-19 pandemic with a further increase of 22,000 people between August and October 2020.

According to statistics, the hardest hit industries were hospitality and the arts. Vic Phillips, a former employee at the Welsh Millennium Centre told the BBC there has been mass redundancies since the closure of the centre in July 2020, leaving many in the arts industry struggling to find jobs and an income.

“I had doubts on whether it was going to work,” said Jessica, who felt her biggest struggle was her own self-doubt.


The Loft Studios is a vintage-styled graphics design print store that has sold 1,702 items with 298 admirers seeking Jessica’s prints.

Jessica’s knowledge and skills in graphic design became a catalyst to her sourcing the card for her business that wouldn’t cost her too much of her savings. Jessica owned the printer she needed for her product before starting the business, leading to her turnover rate quadrupling. 

Jessica Cox best seller - Up to no good
Jessica’s best seller, ‘Up to no good’
Credit: Jessica Cox

Jessica’s knowledge and skills in graphic design became a catalyst to her sourcing the card for her business that wouldn’t cost her too much of her savings. Jessica owned the printer she needed for her product before starting the business, leading to her turnover rate quadrupling. 

The store’s increased attention has forced Jessica to revamp her home to incorporate a work-space area to celebrate her 1000th sale in November. The 1000th sale was that of her best seller, ‘Up to no good’ a firm favourite from buyers.

Jessica chose to use the worldwide platform to launch her business because “the fees are low the site is easy to use and you can have a shop up and running in minutes.” 

She added, “My advice to anyone starting on Etsy would be to keep trying, you have nothing to lose.”

Crafting an income

Little Cwtch Crafts owned by Zoë Little based in Newport was created on the 6 March 2020.

Zoë, a 29-year-old from Newport resigned from her job as a primary school teacher due to stress during the pandemic. With no source of income, Zoë decided to create her online store to sell handmade crafts, using the last pay cheque from her teaching role.

Zoë Little i working towards a more stress-free career with Etsy. Credit: Zoë Little

Since leaving her job, Zoë has struggled mentally and said she has experienced feeling a lack of purpose in her life, along with suffering from depression.

The store has given Zoë a new found happiness and has allowed her to focus on the growth of her business through the Welsh lockdown. Little Cwtch Crafts offer jewellery, keyrings, coasters and more. A challenge for Zoë, who said on reflection, she wishes she had specialised in one product to save on time, money and stress.

The store has sold 714 items in a year and has 89 likes on its Etsy page. The store is quickly expanding following Zoë’s dedication to learn SEO through YouTube and an experienced family member.

“Tags and keywords are imperative for growth and sales,” said Zoë.

A priority for Zoë is to include the Welsh language in her crafts, as she believes the language isn’t as recognised on the platform. Zoë has noticed a trend in purchases with customers purchasing products they relate to, such as the ‘working from home’ flasks.

The bilingual store has over 100 reviews rating the store five stars and has 1,626 followers on Instagram. Since reaching a wider audience on TikTok, the weekly sales have doubled.


Due to Zoë’s business expansion, the increase in demand has been overwhelming. Zoë said she has struggled to keep up with the increasing orders which has led to a proportion of lost sales. Zoë recently invested in a new printer and heat press to help with the processing of orders; the investment has caused Zoë’s profits to suffer.

After experiencing a quiet winter, Zoë said, “My turnover profit really does depend on the time of year.”

Pricing products was a challenge admits Zoë, who made errors pricing her crafts when the store first opened, leading to a decline in her resource budget. Learning from her mistakes Zoë said, “Shipping and postage was a learning curve… Some products broke because I wasn’t packaging them well.”

Following trends, Zoë decided to start creating ‘behind-the-scenes’ reels on Instagram. The business move has helped restore profits.

Looking to the future, Zoë is trying to adapt to the growth of her business and said she is adding crochet items to her store after noticing a popular demand for the product.

‘Cwtch wood cookie’ by Little Cwtch Crafts. Sending a hug to loved ones through the post. Credit: Zoë Little

New Businesses

Two small, Welsh, female-owned up and coming Etsy businesses eager to follow in the footsteps of The Loft Studios and Little Cwtch Crafts.

Alo Luna, a Welsh sea glass jewellery store on Etsy created by Laura George from Caio Carmarthenshire, started in January 2021 following Laura’s unemployment.

Laura is a 25-year-old actress and production crew member in London who found herself without a job, without an income and moving back in with her parents during the first Welsh lockdown.

“Over 10 jobs that I had lined up for filming were cancelled,” said Laura, who made the decision to create her business initially to “brighten up someone’s day.” 

Laura has sold 62 pieces and has started a Pinterest to showcase her hand-crafted jewellery. Laura aims to target a female audience that she believes will be interested in purchasing her product. According to Statista, in 2020 more than two-thirds of Pinterest users were women and 21.4% were aged between 20 to 29 years compared to 5.7% of male users.

Laura added, “From a Welshie who has never run a business before, just going for it!” 

Starting out 

Sparkle and Flicker is owned by Jess Barnes, a 23-year-old teaching assistant in Llanishen Cardiff. Jess started the business in December 2020 after school closures forced her hours to be cut from a five-day week to one, leaving her income to suffer and her car insurance unpaid.

The candle and wax melt store sold 18 products in three months and has made £145. A slow start for Jess who hopes it will increase as the business gains more traction on social media. 

Jess stated, “I’m nervous about the business doing well, especially as it’s still in the early stages… watching YouTube videos of Etsy entrepreneurs helps tackle my anxiety and encourages me to put my worries into my work.”

Etsy Swansea team captain Victoria Isaac said the online company provides active teams in areas around Wales to provide instant support to local Welsh women on their business journey.

We run physical Etsy markets and training programmes within the community to promote small businesses and will hopefully be restarting the programmes in the future

Victoria Isaac, team captain of Etsy Swansea 
A map showing where each Etsy business is located in Wales