By Spencer Feingold

Since its founding nearly 15 years ago, Etsy has grown to dominate the peer-to-peer e-commerce marketplace thanks in no small part to women. In fact, 87 percent of Etsy’s 1.9 million active sellers worldwide identify as women — a statistic that the platform proudly says highlights the changing economy.

“Women are twice as likely to be caring for a family member at home or are not able to work out of their homes, so entrepreneurship and self-employment really gives them that opportunity to earn a living,” Althea Erickson, the company’s head of advocacy and policy, told Cheddar in an interview Friday.

And female preeminence is not just isolated to a single market. Women make up 90 percent of sellers in Australia; 87 percent in the U.S., Canada, and France; and 86 percent in Germany.

“By and large, the world is moving towards self-employment, towards independent work,” Erickson said. “Etsy sellers are really emblematic of that shift.”

The Brooklyn-based company — best known for connecting buyers and sellers of handcrafted goods — has grown significantly in recent years. In 2018, Etsy reported $3.9 billion in gross merchandise sales, a jump of 20.4 percent from the year prior, and posted $603.7 million in revenue, an increase of 36.8 percent from 2017.

“We kept our focus on improving search and discovery, building trust in the marketplace, expanding our marketing channels, and investing in services that fuel our sellers' success," Josh Silverman, Etsy’s CEO, said in a statement.

Etsy’s stock ($ETSY) — which began trading on the Nasdaq in 2015 — has been up 45.74 percent in 2019 and over 125 percent in the past 12 months.

Recognizing the fundamental role women have played in its success, Etsy has done a number of campaigns to foster female empowerment. In honor of International Women's Day last month, for example, the site curated a collection of products made by sellers that paid homage to historical figures such as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Rosa Parks, and Malala Yousafzai.

Etsy has also used its influence to lobby lawmakers for policies that support female entrepreneurs and at-home sellers.

“Etsy sellers are micro businesses, they are businesses of one,” Erickson said. “Their needs and concerns are very different even from a business of 10 or 20.”

Erickson added that the platform actively lobbies Congress for policies that ease tax challenges, expand access to healthcare, and for net neutrality laws that ensure sellers have an “even playing field to compete online.”

Advocacy is necessary, Erickson said, because women on Etsy “make a living and make a life.”

For full interview click here.