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Our Handmade Policy

Hand dyed combed top in dusky rose and slate blue by Sycamore Fibers

[UPDATED 9/20/23]

50 years ago, artisan and philosopher David Pye said “It is impossible to find a generally satisfactory definition for [craftsmanship]… It is a word to start an argument with.” 

Nevertheless, we must somehow try to curate what kinds of products we want on our cooperative marketplace. We need to somehow ensure the goods are genuine, original, and authentic.

To do so, we rely primarily on an engaged community, using our strength as a cooperative: people power.

With a careful checks-and-balances system of accessible onboarding, consistent labeling, incentivized peer verification, and swift action on community reporting. we believe our Handmade Policy will stop bad actors and encourage authentic artisans.

Our Handmade Policy includes:

  • Definition and Guidelines
  • Verification System
  • Enforcement System
  • Glossary of Terms

Version History

9/20/23 v6 Added section 1.5.5 referencing a new Mature Content / NSFW Policy

8/17/23 v5 Added section 1.6.5 clarifying that the marketplace is only for “goods” not “services.”

7/27/23 v4 Accepted all proposed changes from Version 3 (V3) following legal review. No changes.

6/20/23 v3 Updated definition of “Micro-business” and “Collective” in the Glossary, added numbering for easier referencing. Version 2 (V2) can be read here.

5/2/23 v2 Feedback from members of the community initiated a few revisions to the policy, including “Needs Modifications” and a flow chart for the verification process. Version 1 (V1) can be read here.

To come up with our policy, we consulted several resources: 

  • In the spirit of platform cooperativism, we asked users of the marketplace for their input in designing it through a “Handmade Definition Survey” conducted from February 8-26, 2023. (Read the poll results.) 
  • Other handmade policies, including Etsy’s in 2013 and 2023, Felt, Society6, GoImagine, Indie Sellers Guild, and others. 
  • Research and reading on craft history and craft theory, modern gig work, and cooperation:
    • The Nature and Art of Workmanship by David Pye
    • Craft: An American History, by Glenn Adamson
    • For All the People, by John Curl
    • Platform Cooperativism, edited by Trebor Scholz and Nathan Schneider
    • After the Gig, by Juliet B. Schor

We’d love to hear what you think! Share your thoughts with us via email or in the comments below.

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!

37 thoughts on “Our Handmade Policy”

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  7. I am very interested in moving away from Etsy as I am sure thousands have written to tell you. I am wondering if you will be allowing Vintage (AUTHENTIC and Supplies) to be sold on your site?

    I am a Longtime vintage seller on Etsy (12 plus years) and would love to know if you will be allowing vintage and supplies (not mass produced but vintage supplies, for example, vintage Christmas corsage parts and this type of thing)

    I really look forward to hearing back from you, as I would love to be part of your launch in October!

    Thanks so much, in advance, for your response,

    A vintage seller on Etsy

    1. Hello! Thank you for your interest in joining Artisans Co-op!

      We do not allow vintage craft supplies to be sold on our marketplace. Section 1.6.3 of the handmade policy goes into detail about resellers, vintage or otherwise. “Re-sellers and entrepreneurs whose business is to sell others’ products, whether curated vintage goods, licensed artwork, or even authentic original artworks commissioned from an authentic artisan with a commercial license” are excluded from our handmade definition and will not be allowed on our marketplace.


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  9. Hi Artisans Coop!

    I’m so excited to read about your platform!

    I’m wondering if my art prints would comply with your definition of hand-made. I am a full time, freelance artist who creates prints of my work, all signed by me and complete with my maker’s mark. I got into this line of work precisely because seeing to the millionaires and billionaires at galleries was leaving a bad feeling in my soul; I also didn’t like the thought of art being exclusive, I wanted anyone to be able to have a copy if they liked:)

    I would be appreciative of any insight you can share and wish best of luck with the cooperative either way!!

  10. Hi,
    I currently have a shop on Etsy and plan to join your membership. Do you allow self-designed/illustrated oracle and tarot cards that are then printed by a local printing company?

  11. I’m a painter of gaming miniatures. I don’t make the plastic / metal / resin miniatures, but I do a lot of work in sanding mold lines, filling gaps, and making small changes with epoxy resin. I then paint them and “base” them with flocking, stones, and the like. I’m not sure if this qualifies as “handmade” because it’s unlikely that my brush will destroy the miniature the paint, but could easily destroy the hours I’ve put into painting said miniatures. I can provide examples of before and after if necessary.

    1. Hi, Ashe, thank you for writing. How you’ve described what you do does indeed qualify as “handmade” with reference to our Handmade Policy. You’d be using skill and judgement in your work; and you mention the potential of destroying hours through a mistake – that illustrates that your work is governed by the Workmanship of Risk. Section 1.5.4. specifically allows work that is produced through “significant and original in-house modifications to mass-produced, recycled, or vintage goods through the workmanship of risk…”
      I hope you join us!

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  13. i sell on etsy at I produce the molds, and hand cast concrete statues, and figurines, and custom paint to match the customers photo’s, I call it mini me painting. Most of my work is garden decor, and pet loss memorials. is this acceptable to Artisans cooperative?
    i’d love to be done with etsy.
    Thanks, Sue

    1. Based on what you’ve described here, that definitely sounds like it meets the Handmade Policy. When you produce molds, cast concrete, and paint, you are making under the “workmanship of risk.” Join us! -Valerie

  14. I have a longtime shop (AngelDei) on Etsy selling wire-wrapped heirloom gemstone rosaries and jewelry with purchased supplies. Does that qualify to be on your site?

  15. Hi! I am a business owner and I create handmade press-on nail sets, as well as apparel, tumblers, tote bags, and wall art. Would my press-on nails be allowed on the marketplace?

    1. Hey Nik! I’m part of the Handmade Verification Committee here at Artisans Cooperative. I would need more information about the actual process of how you make the press-on nail sets etc. Are you painting the images on the nails, are you printing them on special paper and then applying it to the nails, are you printing directly on the nails themselves etc?

  16. I enjoy making quilts by hand and domestic machine. I use purchased quilting cottons not of my own design. I enjoy reproducing vintage quilt patterns and creating my own. I’ve never sold but am considering selling. Would my quilts qualify as original works as I do not make my own fabrics.

  17. i am an unpublished writer. I see that you have a subsection in the store for books and such but there aren’t any available. I have only just started thinking about selling my stories and want to know how I can meet the handmade requirement. I’d prefer to sell something like an ebook but I’ve look into printing options too. How do I sell on this site within the guidelines? Thanks!

    1. Yes, we consider the written word a craft! We allow digital downloads for e-books, outsourced production runs that you ship out of your home/office, and print-on-demand for “print materials,” which includes books.

  18. I do laser engraving on various mediums, but primarily wood and acrylic, which is what I am interested in listing. I use both flat, wood which I cut and semi finish, and pre-made basic pieces such as cutting boards. I use the laser to “burn” the images on the cutting boards and to cut the flat wood. I also do the same with acrylic cutting and engraving shapes and engraving designs on them. I them ship them with a lighted base so that it can be used as a nightlight, desk decoration, etc. The images I use are a combination of customer’s photos, original sayings, and purchased original sayings from other sources.
    Would my work be considered for listing on your site as even the slightest mistake can ruin my work as the laser doesn’t feature a “go back” button.
    Thank you.

  19. I am extremely excited about what I have read about your co-op marketplace. I have had my Etsy shop for over 4 years and have done okay for awhile and have been a Five Star Seller for a couple of those years. I am the sole proprietor of my handmade beaded earrings. (Primarily glass seed beads from around the world). My themes are multi-cultural, universal, global holiday, etc. My beadwork takes hours and hours, I can and do occasionally (self-admittedly) finish a pair of perfect earrings only to discover there is a mistake at the very beginning of one which cannot be allowed!). The last two years on Etsy have been a disaster competing with all the other sellers “mass producing” handmade beaded earrings sometimes showing more than 3,000 sales in their one little shop!!!! I could die and go to heaven in the years it would take me to bead 3,000 earrings by myself! Would I be a candidate for your marketplace and co-op?

  20. Hi,
    I currently make stickers of my art I draw everything by hand, using traditional media or digital. Right now I am very small and make vinyl stickers on demand with my silhouette cameo 4. I was also thinking of turning some of my designs into prints (would be print on demand because I don’t know what would be popular) and potentially putting my art on Washi tape (I just like tape, what can I say?). I would have to get a printing company to do the tape for me but it would still be my art. Would this still all be hand made?

  21. Impressive work good peeps!

    I have a close friend from Kenya who is working for an NGO in DC – and whose side gig for years has been importing her sister’s handmade bags and selling them at nonprofit sites and events and sending the money back to her sister in Kenya. Would my friend qualify as a member given her role as her sisters partner-intermediary?

    1. Dana, thank you for asking. We allow several types of business structure, including “small business/family business” and “collective/mutual aid society.” A member can definitely serve as the business’s point of contact on the marketplace to sell products that their business partner creates.

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