Handmade by Etkie

Sydney Alfonso was born and raised in New Mexico.  With an intuitive sense of design and an ability to easily engage with artists from diverse cultures, Sydney has rapidly scaled a small startup into a growing design company.  In mid-2014 Sydney launched Etkie, a design company supporting Native American women artisans.  Etkie designers co-design exquisite products and sell these into higher-end markets, earning living wages for the women and delighting customers with unique jewelry.

Graced with a natural ability in sales and marketing, Sydney has been able to build Etkie’s success with sales growth that could soon outpace organizational infrastructure.  "This is the hustle stage, its super important -we’re creating for customers, which we can’t do well if we don’t know them" explained Sydney as she consideres the challenges of building a brand based startup while creating the infrastructure of the business.  Coming into Creative Startups, Sydney was confident about many areas of her business and felt comfortable managing various aspects, especially sales.  However, finance and accounting present a greater challenge.  Keenly aware of this challenge, Sydney has effectively used the Creative Startups process and network to increase her own level of knowledge and to identify CS Mentors and content experts who complement her skills.  Maintaining contact with CS Mentors and staff, Sydney has applied the resources of Creative Startups toward her new venture’s success.

Sales for Etkie were $60,000 for 2014.  For 2015 Etkie is on track to grow sales to $125,000.  Sydney has hired six Navajo women artisans who now work fulltime, earning more than twice the average wage for the region.

Looking ahead, Sydney plans to expand into new sales channels, and work with production partners who can implement new designs through 3D manufacturing.  She aims to raise private investment in 2015, enabling rapid growth of online sales and, ultimately, more living-wage jobs for artisans in indigenous communities.