Q&A:Dayna Isom Johnson on what's new at Etsy and how to find it

Dec 05, 2019

As a trend expert for Etsy, Dayna Isom Johnson is in constant pursuit of new shops and sellers with the latest designs. She is always on the look out for handmade and artisanal items among the 2.1 million active sellers. Dayna is also a judge on the NBC series "Making It," which highlights crafting.

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Hi everyone and welcome to this chat with Dayna Isom Johnson, Etsy's trend expert. Dayna knows what's hot and what's not among the 2.1 million active sellers on Etsy. She is familiar with the many kinds of handmade and artisanal items on the site. Let's chat about what to look for this holiday season.

Are sustainable weddings becoming a strong trend? How can I make my wedding ecofriendly?

 As the world becomes increasingly eco-conscious, couples are choosing stylish and sustainable solutions for their special day. Incorporating reusable straws, biodegradable confetti, or vintage decor are just a few options to make a big impact on wedding guests, without making a big impact on the planet.  Here are some additional items to consider: Clear reusable glass, seed paper thank you cards or dried flower confetti. 

What trends are you hoping to see in 2020 and what are you hoping will retire? I'll go first: mason jars used for everything and shiplap decorations

 HA! I don’t want to give too much away here because we’re going to release all of our predictions for 2020 next week - stay tuned for more! But I will tell you is that we’re declaring 2020 the “Year of Purpose,” which means that 2020 is a year for new beginnings and making meaningful change. In this age of environmental and social awareness, shoppers will be thinking about their actions – and that includes what they’re purchasing – more than ever. 

Hi Dayna! How do you recommend vetting items bought on Etsy for quality?

Etsy has specific policies that all sellers need to adhere to in order to sell their items, but shoppers should always read reviews and feedback from other buyers to help understand what to expect from the seller. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the seller if you have any questions about what you’re buying! If you need some ideas of what shops to buy from, check out our Editors’ Picks pages, which are curated lists of products hand-picked by our editorial team, the Etsy Journal, the Etsy Instagram, and keep an eye on my favorite items and shops at Etsy.com/Dayna.

Hi. Please tell me this trend is on its way out? I'm over all the cutesy sayings on shirts, cups, walls, etc. What is a good alternative?

 

I’m afraid that trend isn’t going anywhere, but I do think the sayings we’re seeing will start becoming more unique and less mainstream. If you’re totally over this trend though, I  would recommend going for something completely personalized – maybe adding a family name or custom initials onto what you’re buying. 

Thoughts on combining affordable IKEA furniture with some designer pieces from sellers on Etsy? Mass production meets the best of niche to create a cool home?

 

I love the idea of combining affordable and luxe pieces! What’s great about buying furniture on Etsy is that not only do sellers offer pieces at a variety of price points – so there’s something in every budget – but you can also work directly with the seller to customize a piece to your style and measurements. There are great ways to add special touches to big box furniture, like adding removable wallpaper or decals to the front of drawers or changing out the original knobs on a dresser and adding leather pulls instead. 

In the thick of party season here. What are the latest trends in hostess gifts?

There are SO many great options for hostess gifts! Some of my favorites for this year are personalized cheese boards, modern barware, and, if you have some time to plan, custom house portraits. If you’re more of a last-minute shopper, there are great printable options – you can download a beautiful print and frame it or add a personalize a wine label to a bottle.

So I'm looking to decorate my home for the holidays but want to make it unique. What are some trendy items that I should include?

 

I absolutely love that you want to do something different that will wow your guests and neighbors. I recommend you go BIG and BOLD – I’ve been talking about maximalism all year, so don’t be afraid to go all. I’m talking mixed textures and prints, and all of the color. A few ways to do this is to get an over-the-top wreath, patterned ornaments, or patchwork stockings. 

What is trending upward for Christmas décor - those red pickup trucks with a green tree in the back? Plaid dishes? Or have these things already peaked? What old décor trick is coming back, but in a fresh, new way?

What’s winter without plaid and timber? Shoppers are loving woodsy patterns and cozy textures that reflect a retreat from the fast-paced frenzy of everyday life. On Etsy, there has been a 17% increase in searches in cabin style and a 51% increase in searches for plaid decor in the last six months (compared to the same time the previous year).

The biggest and boldest trend of the year is all about mixing of textures, prints, and eye-catching details. We are welcoming the “more-is-more” mindset with open arms: in the last six months on Etsy, searches for colorful decor have increased 26%, searches for textured items have increased 14%, and searches for patterned items have increased 4% (all compared to the same time last year). So bring on the tinsel, pom poms, and tassels! 

 

As for what’s making a comeback, eye-catching and luminous, stained glass is a stunning statement-making showing back up in holiday decor. But we’re not talking about old-school designs: Etsy sellers are reinventing the time-honored technique to create modern adaptations for present-day shoppers. And on Etsy, searches for stained glass have increased by 69% in the last six months (compared to the same time last year), telling us that this revived trend isn’t going anywhere. 

I'm planning to propose to my girlfriend but don't know what type of ring to get her. I know she loves Etsy jewelry so I wanted to see if there were any styles that you recommend!

 

Congratulations! The Etsy bride is always looking for something unique and special and engagement rings are no exception. Some styles I’m loving right now are non-traditional shapes, rings that add a personalized touch – like incorporating the couples’ birthstones – and cluster stone rings. 

Hosting my first Christmas dinner at my new home (yay!) and need some tips and ideas Christmas table decorations. Would love your help!

Congratulations on your new place! There’s nothing more exciting than hosting the first holiday in your very own home. To get things started, look for items that you can repurpose when hosting in years to come, like well-made plates and vintage glassware that has stood the test of time. To add flair to your table this year, try incorporating my favorite trend of 2019, maximalism, by piling on textures, patterns, and colors. I also love surprising guests with a personal touch, like custom place cards on the table.

Love you on Making It! What's been your favorite part about being on the show?

It’s so incredible working with the legendary Amy Poehler, Nick Offerman, and Simon Doonan, but what I really love is working with some of the most talented makers across the country and seeing their creativity and masterful skills come to life. It’s also so inspiring to I fall in love with the maker community and get creative themselves.

For more holiday gift ideas, check out Helen Carefoot's story on alternatives to candles and other old standbys.

Help! I can't figure out what to get my boyfriend for Christmas this year. Anything unique or trending that you recommend?

Personalized items are the way to go for the person who’s hard to shop for. I recommend adding an initial or a special date to a leather wallet, wooden muddler, or even clothing to surprise him with something totally unique. If he’s into a specific hobby, like music or cooking, try finding something that’s both personal and useful – he’ll think of you every time he looks at it.


what holiday decor are you tired of seeing?

 

Minimalism! I’m all about the “more is more” mindset, and I’d love to see shoppers embrace their inner maximalist and pile on the textures, patterns, and colors for their holiday decor.

Our 2019 Holiday Gift Guide has recommendations on gifts for the home, wellness, travel and more. 

They are looking for people who are incredibly creative, highly skilled, can work very quickly and are extremely nice. I just love watching them.

That's so nice of you to say! They are some of the best in the business!

I love Etsy, but my biggest problem is the search function. Can you make it easier to narrow down choices? I may have an idea of what I want but no way to easily look through the choices.

One of the best ways to get more specific in your Etsy search is to use search filters. For example, filtering by price can surface a completely different slice of the market than a search without a filter. Location searches are also really pleasantly surprising, and it’s often where I will find a really cool undiscovered or newly opened shops in my city. To narrow down results even more, use multiple, descriptive terms – for example: "green knit scarf" will return fewer, more specific results than just "scarf." Also think about using a minus sign (-) in front of a word to exclude that term from your search. For example: "dress -red" will exclude any dresses tagged with "red." 


If you need some shopping ideas, also check out our Editors’ Picks pages, which are curated lists of products hand-picked by our editorial team, the Etsy Journal, the Etsy Instagram, and keep an eye on my favorite items and shops at Etsy.com/Dayna.

She needs a new bag that can be worn crossbody, but will be large enough to carry a script at camp this summer. She is about to turn 13, so I'm thinking more bag than purse, but she is also a NYC kid during the school year, so it needs to be a little sophisticated, or at least not overly cute, or perhaps cute in an ironic way? My real question is how to construct a search so I only have to look at 1000 choices, not 30,000 or more. The "crossbody" term is easy to add, but how to I search for "not too small but not big enough for an adult to use as an overnight bag." Thanks so much.

See my answer above! 

Sounds like messenger bag may be the way to go?

Messenger bags are great but backpacks are also very popular.  One way to make the bag unique (and ensure she doesn’t lose it at camp) is to personalize with her name, initials, or patches. 

How do you scope out the best products on Etsy?

I am constantly on the hunt for the newest and greatest trends emerging on Etsy. What I love about Etsy is that our sellers are often on the forefront of these trends because they can go from idea to product more quickly than a traditional retailer. 

I also work with our data analytics team to find out what shoppers are engaging with and what is peaking in terms of search. Lastly, I see what traditional forecasters like WGSN and Trend Bible are predicting.

What's a must-have personalized accessory that I should get for my upcoming trip to Hawaii?

Sounds like such a fun trip! You can’t go wrong with a custom straw bag, some personalized jewelry to wear in the evenings, or even a tailor-made cover-up for the beach.

What was it like working with them?

 

It was amazing to work with the iconic duo of Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman. Not only did they keep me laughing the entire time, but they’re also incredibly dedicated to the maker community and have so much passion for the show and the people who watch it. 

Would you say there's been an upsurge of vintage items available on Etsy? Are the majority of available items still handmade?

Vintage has always been one of the top categories on Etsy, but the resurgence of many vintage styles, from mid-century modern furniture to ‘70s-inspired clothing to embroidered home decor, has given vintage a major boost in recent years.  

Do you think more people are crafting than before? If so, why?

As more and more technology and automation is introduced into our lives, shoppers are seeking a break from the constant time spent behind screens. Crafting is increasingly becoming an escape from all of the technology, offering people a much-needed dose of creativity and imagination.

One problem I have is there is so much good stuff out there on Etsy that it feels overwhelming -- when you're recommending shops/makers, what are you looking for that makes them stand out?

When looking for shops and makers on Etsy, I’m always looking for that wow factor: something that I’ve never seen before that truly feels one-of-a-kind. I also look for quality craftsmanship in the item and interesting stories behind the maker.

Do you have any recommendations for holiday gifts for teenage girls?

My time is almost up, but check out our Etsy gift guides for tons of ideas for everyone on your list. 

Sadly, we've run out of time. Thanks to Dayna Isom Johnson for joining us today, and to everyone who sent in questions. Enjoy the rest of the week and good luck with the holiday preparations!

In This Chat
Jura Koncius
Jura Koncius is a Washington Post staff writer who specializes in home and design. Read her daily Twitter feed @jurakoncius for the latest in decorating trends, shopping, decluttering and organizing.

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