Google helps us look at who is interested in buying our products.”Sydney Alfonso
When Sydney Alfonso spent a semester studying abroad in Istanbul, she worked with a woman’s cooperative that helped local artisans sell their handmade jewelry. When the program ended, Sydney returned to her home state of New Mexico with a desire to help empower indigenous women. “The situation here was similar to my experience in Turkey. There were women struggling on Native American reservations but who were capable of making these beautiful things,” she said. In 2014, Sydney launched Etkie, an ethical, for-profit company that gives Native American women a platform to earn living wages and provide for their families. “There’s a lot of trauma — historical and cultural — in these communities,” Sydney said. Etkie, which means “impact” in Turkish, offers handcrafted jewelry that blends traditional craftsmanship with modern design. “I was a super-green entrepreneur when I started this, but that was also a blessing in disguise because I had to figure everything out myself,” said Sydney.
Etkie began as a B2B wholesale business and has since expanded to online sales. “Five years ago, there weren’t as many successful direct-to-consumer companies,” said Sydney. “By building our wholesale side, we’ve had more of a profit margin to invest in digital, and we’re just starting on that journey.” In an effort to ramp up Etkie’s direct-to-consumer efforts, Sydney started running different ads on YouTube and Google Search to better understand her customers. “Google helps us look at who is interested in buying our products,” Sydney said. “By being able to see what resonates on a large scale, it’s easier to home in on what messaging is working and what is getting clicks.”
Available in seven countries around the globe, Etkie produces about 5,000 bracelets per year. Since 2017, the company has grown 30%
year over year. Sydney also cites a 10% increase in sales coming from digital, thanks to her advertising efforts with Google. As Etkie continues to grow, Sydney remains true to the inspiration that launched Etkie — helping women support themselves and celebrating their creativity. “Our business encourages people to pay for craftsmanship and acknowledge our artisans,” she said. “We’ve fostered a group of consumers who really care about where they buy their products and the actual impact it has on the community.”