Houston—While studying for her PhD in biomedical sciences, Adrianne Stone took up jewelry-making as a stress reliever and side hustle, and sold her wares on Etsy Wholesale.
But late last year, Stone says, she began to notice bugs on the site and a lack of response from Etsy (NASDAQ: ETSY) about those issues. That prompted her to look up the New York-based company’s financials and then realizing the wholesale business “was only a fraction of the pie.”
Stone says she realized makers like her needed an alternative to Etsy, and she began to create her own site in between preparations for her PhD dissertation. “I bought the domain and threw up a landing page,” she says of Stockabl, her e-commerce startup. “At the end of the weekend, I had 100-plus applicants.”
Then, Etsy announced in June that it was shuttering its wholesale marketplace. “What we’ve learned over the past several years is that demand for wholesale from buyers hasn’t been as strong as we hoped,” Kruti Patel Goyal, Etsy’s general manager of the seller services team, said in a press release. “Wholesale represents a very small part of our overall business.”
Stone says she realized that the announcement meant it was now or never for her to start Stockabl. “If I’m going to get any of these people, I’ve got to get in front of them right now,” she says. So, this week, Stockabl made its debut.
In announcing the closure, Etsy Wholesale said only 5,000 of Etsy’s nearly two million sellers used the site, but, for Stone and other maker-entrepreneurs, that number still represents a viable market. Houston-based Stockabl joins a few other wholesale e-markets geared towards makers, such as IndieMe in Cape Coral, FL; Indigo Fair in the San Francisco area, Wholesale In A Box in Kingston, NY; and Hubba in Toronto.
Stone says Stockabl is charging a lower per-transaction fee—others can charge a commission of around 20 percent—and not requiring subscriptions as some of its competitors do. The more established companies in the wholesale market also tend to have bigger and better known names among buyers and sellers. “A lot of our buyers are smaller, independent boutiques,” she says. “Our inventory only overlaps by about one-eighth of products.”
Right now, Stone says she’s bootstrapping Stockabl and focused on bringing on users. (She did get her PhD in translational biology and molecular medicine at Baylor College of Medicine in June, but is focusing on Stockabl fulltime for now.) So far she’s approved about 950 applications from sellers and 200 buyers wanting to be on the site. For sellers, she says, “we look at, do they have experience; is their product professional-looking; their branding, packaging, photography, do they look legitimate? Are they meeting industry standards where there’s at least a 50 percent markup?”
In the scramble to get Stockabl up and running, Stone says, she brought on a few advisers, including someone who used to work at Etsy Wholesale. She’s looking for more help. “I’m looking to find people to help me scale this,” she says.