Etsy Entrepreneur Gets Off to a Flying Start

Etsy Entrepreneur Gets Off to a Flying Start

A year-long series of RISD entrepreneurship initiatives is culminating in a trip to Berlin, Germany for one creative and enterprising young alum.

Kellie Riggs 11 JM, winner of an Etsy award for entrepreneurship

Based on the strength of her proposal, Kellie Riggs 11 JM has won a $1,500 fellowship to attendHello Etsy, an international summit on small business and sustainability organized by the online marketplaceEtsy.

The gathering of independently minded businesspeople will be held on September 17 and 18 in Berlin, with satellite events in several U.S. and European cities. It will offer participants tips and advice from social media and marketing specialists, legal and financial experts, community organizers and fellow entrepreneurs on how to launch and expand a sustainable venture.

RISD offered the Etsy fellowship opportunity to members of the Class of 2011 as part of anArtrepreneur Kit given to this year’s graduates to provide some of the online tools needed to help launch businesses and careers in art and design. Last winter the founders ofKickstarter, Quirky and Etsy came to campus totalk to students about what it takes to start a successful business and to announce new sections of their sites devoted to projects by RISD students and alumni. Since then more than 600 students and alumni have joined theEtsy RISD Team page and sought funding for their creative projects onKickstarter’s RISD-curated page.

Riggs’ experience at RISD has already brought out her own entrepreneurial flair. In the fall of 2009, she and classmateMisha Kahn 11 FD founded RISD Exposé, a student-run pop-up gallery and gift shop that provided a downtown venue for students to show and sell their work to the local Providence community. Now, with the Etsy fellowship, she is taking her talent global.

“My time at RISD has been a personal journey in discovering what is important to me as an artist and maker,” Riggs noted in her fellowship application. “Within my own work, I want to follow in the footsteps of artists/designers likeIsamu Noguchi and Gjis Bakker, who both straddle the line of fine art and design as commerce. I, too, feel I can be both an artist and jewelry designer/maker, creating environments where I can work in both ways simultaneously.”

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