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As the purveyor of 11 million handmade and vintage items, Etsy has become the Web’s biggest marketplace for arts and crafts. Inside the warehouse, young workers toil in clusters, some offering technical support, some tending to the company’s website, others dealing with customers directly. The company’s light-filled office—which showcases its wares and its playful sensibility—is essentially a nursery school for grown-ups.
The place is more funky than tasteful. In the middle of one wall-mounted art installation hangs the Etsy mantra: “STAY HANDMADE.” (Etsy’s name is derived from pseudo-Latin and pseudo-Italian: “et si.” It’s all rather hazy.)
Employees—who enjoy company-sponsored weekly yoga classes—are encouraged to customize their workspaces. Each is given a hand-carved desk and $100 as a decorating startup. One new hire, May Wilkerson, has a nest of wooden Russian dolls, what looks like a silk leopard-print scarf to cover her computer, and a somewhat beleaguered spider plant. “My desk is a work-in-progress,” she says, and clearly she hopes it will remain so.