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First Board Election

On the right is an image of a piece of paper with three squares lined up vertically, with the top square having a red check mark. On the left it says "First Board Election Blog post by Artisans Cooperative" with the coops logo of a chicken below.

UPDATED 1/11/24. We are extending the candidate deadline to end of day Sunday, January 21. We want to give people more time to absorb the new information shared in the Candidate Application post and after our Open House tomorrow (we will send out a recording afterwards as usual).

UPDATED 12/20/23. We are delaying the start of the Candidate Submission Period by a week due to the holidays and to allow the Coop leaders to take a week of collective rest between 12/25 and 1/1.

In January of 2024, Artisans Cooperative is holding our first Board of Directors election. This is a monumental occasion and a tremendous step forward for the ONLY member-owned marketplace for buying handmade goods.

Mark your calendars with the following important dates!

Start Date
Candidate Submission PeriodJan 2 – 21, 2024
Dec 25, 2023 – Jan 12, 2024
Open House with Candidate ForumJan 11, 2024 1 pm Pacific / 4 pm Eastern
Voter Information Packet PublishedJan 25, 2024
Jan 19, 2024
Voting PeriodJan 26, 2024 – Feb 08, 2024
Jan 22, 2024 – Feb 02, 2024
Election ResultsFeb 20, 2024
Leadership TransitionMar 1, 2024 – Apr 25,2024
Annual MeetingApr 26, 2024

The elected Board of Directors will consist of 7 people: 3 Artisans, 2 Supporters, and 2 Staff. Artisans will vote for the Artisan positions, and Supporters will vote for the Supporter positions. As we do not have any employees (Staff) yet, two staff “representative” positions will be voted as directors: one will be voted for by Artisans and one by Supporters, with the express purpose that those persons represent the interests of future staff on the board.

Of the 7 directors, 3 are officers: President, Treasurer, and Secretary. These 3 officer positions are determined by the board itself at its first meeting. The roles do not entail any particular hierarchical structure within the board. The President is responsible for holding board meetings and agendas, the Secretary is responsible for keeping good records for the Coop, and the Treasurer is responsible for maintaining accurate and responsible finances. 

Each elected director owes a fiduciary duty to the Coop. This means the directors have two legal obligations: the duty of loyalty and the duty of care. The duty of loyalty has to do with avoiding personal conflicts of interest. The duty of care has to do with acting prudently and competently.

To meet those obligations and protect themselves and the Coop from liability, the directors must act in good faith and use appropriate decision-making procedures (like researching the options). This is called the “business judgement rule” – it protects those directors from liability, even if the decision they make ends up being unwise. 

In our Sociocracy, the Board of Directors are also the “mission” team. They are like the navigators of the ship, ensuring we get to the right destination. 

In addition, in our bylaws, the Board of Directors is responsible for “managing the property and business of the Cooperative.” This could cover any Coop business matter. 

In practice, during the early stages of our start-up, the Board of Directors is also a working board. They will need to take on some of the work of the Coop in teams with other members. In 2024, we recommend that each Board Director either be on a team or lead a team until we have sufficient staff.

The new Board of Directors will learn from, and ideally work alongside the current interim board for the two months between the election and the first annual meeting of their term. All five members of the interim board have also personally committed to being available for questions, guidance, and support in 2024 for the new board (whether or not they run again).

The term of a director is 2 years. In this inaugural year, half the board will serve 1 year terms to set the board up for future staggered terms ensuring that the entire board does not turn over at once. The newly-elected board directors will decide for themselves which terms they are on at their first meeting. 

Statements from the Interim Board

Our interim board has shared some statements about their experience so far:

Olga, Interim Board President

Being on the interim board this year has been a whirlwind experience and I’m really excited for the upcoming elections to get some new folks deeply involved with some of the core decisions we’ll have to make during an integral next 1-2 years for the Coop! Our biggest strength is our membership with all of the variety of experiences and viewpoints that we all bring. So as new voices and energy come into this space, we will only become stronger as a business. 

My favorite part of being on the board this year was getting to be part of setting the open, transparent, collaborative, and member-serving tone as we launched the Coop. I deeply believe in the Coop as an important equity-centered and inclusive alternative for artisans to have in order to run their own businesses and think being on the board offers a big opportunity for folks to take on this mantle on behalf of the membership. As part of the board, you really get to take the lead on shaping the direction of the business and the strategic priorities for the Coop, so it’s a great space to get to think at a really high level to understand the cCop in a different way. 

A challenge for me while being on the interim board was definitely finding balance – as someone who (like many of us) has a day job and is an artisan by night, things really shifted to day job, coop by night, and then artisan by very late night! Although this is also confounded with team lead work and the many things that were time sensitive to the launch. I think the next board role will look pretty different as we move from the startup phase to hiring and growth. And I’m really excited for the next board to be able to shape what this different phase looks like. 

What I’d like to be carried forward is an eye for our growth and keeping in mind the future membership we hope to reach to make the Coop a thriving place – it already is but I’m excited as we grow and change to see what we can become in the future!

Erin, Interim Board Secretary

Artisans Co-op’s values resonate with me: economic self-determination, strength through cooperation, and having the audacity and determination to build our ideal marketplace despite incredible obstacles and critics. This translated to me as doing the right thing no matter the odds, and I wanted to contribute to that. It was gratifying to be able to think deeply about questions that would mold the characteristics of the Coop and that would determine the Coop’s path forward, and it was especially gratifying to do this with a group of like-minded people – all bringing different ideas and perspectives and opinions, but all with the same loving interest in the Coop. It’s so rewarding to discover others’ ideas that I wish I had thought of, and to enjoy community in cooperatively building on each other’s ideas to create best-possible solutions. 

Coming from a hierarchical business and military background, a non-hierarchical cooperative structure using the sociocratic model was a big adjustment for me, and luckily for me, the other board members were patient and happy to explain things and answer my questions. And I love it! The marketplace of ideas may take longer, but it results in much better decisions and plans than just one person calling the shots. I bring this up to say that anyone with an open mind and a heartfelt interest in the Coop can be an effective member of the board. 

What I’d like future board members to keep in mind is to always champion the interest of the individual artisan, and keep that at the heart of everything. Every decision impacts an individual who, despite obstacles and challenges, is sincerely working hard to earn their living from the fruits of their own hands.

Valerie, Interim Board Treasurer

I want this co-op to exist in the world, so I loved being able to make that happen as part of the Interim Board of Directors. I felt like I made a positive difference in this world. It was both aweing and satisfying to see it grow, brick by brick, and every once in a while I just looked back and marveled at how far we’ve come. I also really liked meeting kindred spirits around the world and making new friends. 

It is never easy starting something new. Entire systems have to be made from scratch, from the very high conceptual ideas and policies to the lowly templates and how-to guides. It was very hard to balance this amount of start-up work with the organizational growth and I sincerely hope it will be easier for the next board members now that we have created so much. As a “high-performing introvert” by nature, who feels most at home as a hermit with her cats and her veggie garden, the biggest challenge for me was always being “on” (interviews, meetings, phone calls, socializing). 

I hope that what the next board carries forward from what we’ve started here is an inclusive, practical, and gracious organization. That sometimes means making practical compromises and letting the little things go in service of our shared greater mission. 

I am so excited for the next board to take the Coop to the next level. To me, that means hiring our first employee as the first priority. That might mean revisiting our financing options with the membership, or taking on debt.

Lizzy, Interim Board Director

I liked being able to help grow this group from a few dozen of us to the hundreds that we have today. It has been amazing being on the Interim Board, getting the chance to spread my “managerial” wings a bit with my colleagues, and seeing our hard work pay off with incorporation, hundreds of members, and a working website within a year. 

The challenging bit was finding balance: not only between coop stuff and my day-to-day life but also between Interim Board duties and Team Lead duties. I am neurodivergent and so when I find something I am passionate about,  I tend to dive right in, and drown myself in serotonin for a while. Keeping myself straddling the line of passionate and above water has been difficult but I think because this is a cooperative (and because of the rest of the amazing Interim Board) I was able to find that balance. 

I would like the future board to keep in mind the cooperative spirit, keeping both artisans and supporters at the forefront and not just focusing on the profits. I would love to see Artisans Cooperative branch out with various other “coops” like Artisans Cook, Artisans Write etc.

Miss Thera, Interim Board Director

Being on the interim board has been a great experience overall. I liked helping develop the organizations policies and procedures from the ground up while keeping artisans needs at the forefront of our work. 

The biggest challenge has been balancing my personal & business life with board and coop work. I am always diving head first into things I am very passionate about and the past 1.5 years, Artisans Cooperative has been in my head basically 24/7. The excitement of what we have been building has been overwhelming in the best ways, but other parts of life always like to get in the way and the times I wasn’t able to work on the Coop with the focus I would have liked were always a hard time for me. 

I would love to see our board continue to keep artisan and supporters in the front of their work as we continue to grow the organization. Having worked on this for over a year now, and seen how much we have accomplished, I know that we can carry this forward and make it the marketplace we are all truly happy to be a part of.

The interim board has accomplished the amazing feat of launching a marketplace aligned with cooperative and Artisan-first values. It’s now time to continue growing and building with those values in mind. 

As we prepare for our first official elections, consider whether you’d like to run for the 2024 Board of Directors. Take this chance to change the world – these kinds of opportunities don’t come by that often! 

About Artisans Cooperative

We are growing an online handmade marketplace for an inclusive network of creatives: a co-op alternative to Etsy.
Shop the marketplace!

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