MOUNT DESERT — Northeast Harbor artist Jennifer Judd-McGee was one of 14 artists and craftspeople from around the country who went to Washington, D.C., last week for three days of talks with federal officials on Internet commerce and micro-business issues.
They met at the White House with members of the White House Business Council and with Erin Andrew, director of the Office of Women’s Business Ownership of the Small Business Administration (SBA).
On Capitol Hill, they met with staff members of a number of senators and representatives including Maine Sen. Angus King.
The trip was paid for and the meetings arranged by Etsy, the e-commerce website where 1.4 million people sell handmade and vintage items, artwork and arts-and-crafts supplies.
Judd-McGee is an illustrator and paper cut-out artist who also creates mixed media collages. She has made more than 3,400 sales since becoming an Etsy member in 2007. She said she probably was selected to be among those making the trip to Washington as the result of a feature story on her in an Etsy report last fall.
She said the Etsy sellers engaged in “advocacy and lobbying” with congressional staff members on a number of issues including changes they would like to see in international shipping regulations “so that small packages sent from one seller to one buyer somewhere else in the world won’t be held up in customs for months, as is now often the case with some countries we ship to.”
She said a highlight of the trip was spending time with Andrew of the SBA.
“She talked about how the Obama administration is very supportive of the ‘maker movement’ and of micro business ventures, and about the different resources for women wanting to grow their businesses.”
Judd-McGee noted that 86 percent of Etsy sellers are women.
She said Andrew talked about government programs, as well as organizations such as SCORE, that can help with small business development.
“I know of a number of other women-owned micro businesses around MDI, and I’d love to be able to request some sessions for people like me to grow their knowledge and skill sets … without needing an MBA,” she said.