For Edgartown resident Esther Laiacona, the idea of starting a Facebook page for women to post and sell their goods seemed simple enough.
“Basically, what I’ve found is that a lot of women have either had businesses that have failed or they can’t afford the rents in retail, ” Ms. Laiacona said.
“Everyone uses social media these days, so I thought, why not take advantage of it in a positive way.”
So, on November 24, with that mantra in mind, she created M.V. Women’s Co-operative Holiday Craft and Gift Shop, a way for female artisans to post photos, videos, and descriptions of everything from handmade pottery, metalsmithed jewelry and stitched bracelets to fiber arts, recycled and upcycled materials, art glass, wood, and fashion pieces.
Within a week, the group attracted more than 50 members. After two weeks, there were more than 200 followers.
“It seems to have inspired a lot of people,” Ms. Laiacona said. “It’s exciting, and it’s gotten them excited. But most importantly, it gives these women another outlet to sell their goods.”
An amateur photographer, artist, and mother of three, Ms. Laiacona said she is an advocate of female businesses owners and entrepreneurs. In addition to taking online sales and marketing classes, she has also created the pages M.V. Sales and Marketing and M.V. Honey Can-Do, a barter-based or low-fee exchange page on Facebook where users can find anything from snow plowing to gift wrapping.
“I’m very passionate about business, sales and marketing, and creating an entrepreneurial lifestyle,” Ms. Laiacona said. “Living here in the Vineyard, my philosophy is you can create any life you want. You can decide how you want to live.”
The idea for the Women’s Coop page was born out of a passion to see other women succeed, or at least supplement their income in the off-season, Ms. Laiacona said. “It was inspired because I want to see women benefit from what they do,” she said. “I want to see them grow and make money and generate income, especially during the holidays and the winter.”
Randi Hadley, an artisan who sells her hand-sewn aprons in the Vineyard Holiday Gift Shop in Vineyard Haven, said the benefits of the Facebook page are two-fold.
“I do it partly so I can stay sane during the winter,” Ms. Hadley told The Times. A personal chef who cooks for a private family in Menemsha in the summertime, she said the extra income doesn’t hurt either.