With The Next Web Conference right around the corner, our speakers are prepping their presentations. However, before they arrive, we wanted to learn more about them.
Linda Kozlowski is the COO of Etsy, the popular online handmade marketplace where sellers can reach a global audience and sell their handmade items.
If you’ve never heard of Linda, before joining Etsy she was the COO of Evernote for three years, managing global operations. Before Evernote, she lived in Hong Kong for four years working for Alibaba.com, where she also lead global marketing and business development.
Linda used to work in journalism and public relations for 15 years before she became interested in helping businesses, which has lead her career in roles that are marketing and operational focused, such as those at Alibaba, Evernote, and now Etsy.
As the COO of Etsy, it’s likely safe to assume that she buys a lot of handmade items. When I asked her about her handmade item buying habits before joining Etsy, she stated she used to buy lots of handmade things at craft fairs and even on Etsy before officially joining the Etsy team. In particular, she enjoyed buying vintage barware and cooking items from Etsy, stemming from her love of food and cooking.
Since joining Etsy and moving to New York, she furnished her entire apartment from purchases she made on Etsy. Not only did she want amazing handmade items in her home, but she wanted to work with sellers on a buyer-to-seller relationship, learning about working with Etsy shops and sellers from the viewpoint of a buyer. She called this experience “eye opening” and has helped her understand more about transactions made on Etsy.
Linda has a nicely furnished apartment thanks to Etsy, but her purchases don’t stop there. She said she buys on Etsy roughly once a week. In particular, she enjoys buying jewelry pieces, clothing, and skin care items from handmade micro entrepreneurs on Etsy.
Most people experience Etsy through buying from Etsy shops. But the heart of Etsy and what keeps it going are all of the different shops and the variety of handmade and vintage goods that are available and constantly changing.
Linda says she’s never had a shop on Etsy or actually have sold anything on the platform, even though she does enjoy sewing, but for her personal enjoyment only. “I think [selling on Etsy] is fascinating and I’ve really loved meeting our sellers and understanding more about their experiences,” Linda explains.
So with all of the things that Linda has purchased from Etsy over the years, what does she consider her most wildest or craziest item?
“One of the wildest things I’ve ever bought [on Etsy] is something called a Captain Chicken. It’s a stuffed chicken made in the Midwest. It was the topic of conversation in one of the meetings we had about search and how to match titles with appropriate images. As we were going through and looking at sample images, I just fell in love with this chicken because he was so beautifully made and so unique. He is one of a kind. That’s definitely the wildest thing I’ve ever bought,” says Linda.
Outside of the Captain Chicken, Linda does have some really nice pieces she has purchased and fallen in love with from Etsy. When asked about her most favorite item she’s purchased on Etsy, she tells me it’s her dining room table. She purchased the solid walnut table from a seller in Portland, Oregon. “It’s just one of the most beautiful tables I’ve ever seen, and I just remember when it was delivered I was so incredibly happy with the quality and the design.”
While her dining room table is her most favorite item from Etsy, two other items are a close second and third. They are a set of enamel salt dishes that are from Berkley, and a clean, modern style cocktail dress that she worked with a seller from Bulgaria on creating.
Etsy being the very unique company that it is is sure to bring some crazy, funny or sad story. When I asked Linda about a story she wanted to share, she detailed what happens at their monthly meetings. One of the things Linda has stated that she loves in the monthly meetings is the talent show that is put on at the beginning.
Yes, you read that right. A talent show at a meeting. Linda described how these talent show acts are pretty elaborate and well thought out by all the talent that Etsy employees have, and has become quite impressed through the various acts over the different meetings. She’s fascinated by their musical and performance talents even though she doesn’t consider herself musically inclined herself. One of her favorite skits was a melody of movie hits sung with the help of a handbell choir.
Linda’s principle role at Etsy is marketing and the global nature of the business. She is fascinated by the diversity and changing nature of businesses on a global scale, and that is one of the many things that drew her to Etsy.
At The Next Web Conference, you’ll get to hear her detail more about her experiences working with companies on a global scale, in particular how the internet has made it much easier to reach a global audience, but at the same time presenting new opportunities and challenges.
Linda explains that she plans to discuss how “companies must establish business and product strategies that can be easily scaled globally, while adapting to the needs and preferences of local audiences” if they want to succeed on the global stage.
With Etsy, it’s all about “supporting the micro entrepreneur however they want to live their life, however they want to work, and really grow their own business, and that part has been incredibly important to me,” details Linda.
“We can span all corners of the globe with helping these individual micro entrepreneurs connect to each other and is something that really brought me to Etsy and is something I’m very passionate about.” Etsy has grown to become a global marketplace and Linda greatly enjoys seeing the impact that a global business such as Etsy has on the world.
This post is part of our contributor series. The views expressed are the author's own and not necessarily shared by TNW.