Now you can buy an embroidered pillow or handcrafted earrings next time you order water filters, dog toys and the new Taylor Swift CD.

Amazon has opened Handmade at Amazon, a craft store selling artisan goods, directly challenging the marketplace dominated by Etsy.

The site launched Oct. 8 with more than 88,000 products from about 5,000 sellers in more than 60 countries. The site has six categories: jewelry, home decor, artwork, stationary and party supplies, kitchen and dining items, and furniture.

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"Customers can discover artisans from around the world, and shop local from artisans based in their community with the familiar Amazon experience they know and trust," said the news release announcing the launch of the new site.

Austin-based Jessica Tata and her husband, William Knopp, began selling their brass necklaces and hand-painted leather keychains on Etsy four years ago.

"We started out making things for fun, put things on Etsy on a whim, and it took off for us," says Tata. They sold at crafts fairs and in markets, then eventually sold wholesale and on their own website. Amazon marketers contacted them about selling on the new site and their shop, Son of a Sailor, was featured on Handmade's launch day.

"We have a great deal of loyalty to Etsy and we feel that Etsy really revolutionized the handmade world and made it possible for people like myself and my husband to start a business," Tata says. "However, we have watched it change, as things will over time. Some of the original vision of Etsy has become a little diluted."

Etsy was criticized by some when it eased its manufacturing rules in 2013, allowing sellers to hire workers or outsource production to small-scale manufacturers, reports the New York Times. Critics said the change meant the site was flooded with mass-produced items, often made overseas but sold under the guise of handmade.

"That was a huge shift for a company whose vision was founded on 'handmade.' And it's really difficult to police that," says Tata.

Handmade by Amazon collageAmazon features profiles of many of its new Handmade artisans. You can search by location if you want to buy from an artisan near you. (Photo: Amazon)
No mass production

At Amazon's Handmade site, all product must be "made entirely by hand, hand-altered, or hand assembled (not from a kit)," according to the FAQs for interested artisans. Mass-produced products are not permitted.

Potential vendors must give detailed information about their products and creative process before they're considered for the site.

"The application process is intense," confirms Tata. "They seem to be spending a lot of time trying to fairly determine if sellers fit into the handmade category they defined."

Just a few hours into the site's launch, Tata said the investment has been worthwhile as she looked at her sales figures.

"I feel like Etsy has become the go-to for people searching for handmade and searching for interesting. They have that draw and they have become the Google of handmade," she says. "That said, with Amazon, I thought instantly we are going to be exposed to a customer base that is huge and global. As we've gone into this, we've been a little scared and also very excited."

As the New York Times points out, Amazon's reach dwarfs Etsy's. Amazon has 285 million active customer accounts versus Etsy's 22 million.

Looking for a deal?

Jennifer Carroll is a graphic designer in Lebanon, Ohio, who sells calligraphy-penned personalized ornaments, handwritten letters and wedding invitations in her Etsy shop, Paint Jar. She says if Handmade's fees are comparable to Etsy's, it may be worth looking into, but she has some reservations.

"My concerns would be that most of the population goes to Amazon to buy something for a lower cost than they can find in stores. My hubby does it all the time, so there would be a big hurdle to get over if people are looking for cheaper goods on the Handmade site than on Etsy."

Mary Jo DiLonardo covers a wide range of topics focused on nature, health, science and anything that helps make the world a better place.

Amazon gets into the arts-and-crafts business
The Internet giant challenges Etsy for a piece of the artisanal pie.