We are announcing the formation of Artisans Cooperative during October 2022: the US National Co-op Month.
This is our Mission Statement:
Artisans Cooperative is crafting an online handmade marketplace for an inclusive network of creatives. We are a member-owned, member-run and member-benefiting co-op. We promote creativity, support artist livelihoods, and connect people through an equitable artistic community.
We envision a better online shopping experience for artisans and customers alike by using the cooperative business model.
Cooperatives are different from traditional businesses. They operate their business by a set of universal principles that put people and communities over profits. They are self-reliant, self-determining and self-help organizations that make business ownership accessible to all. Most importantly, cooperative members own the business and control it democratically (not Wall Street investors or hedge funds). And cooperative members are the ones who financially benefit from its success.
Our cooperative formed as a result of the #EtsyStrike. Strike leaders went on to form a nonprofit, the Indie Sellers Guild (ISG). But a group of us Etsy sellers who met through the strike wanted an alternative to Etsy. We wanted the alternative to be a worker-owned cooperative, because history has shown that investor-owned alternatives get bought by Etsy to hold their monopoly, like Depop and Elo7. When Etsy announced they had earned $161 million in net profits in the same breath as another fee hike on artisans, we imagined the social good a co-op could give by distributing $161 million equitably into the pockets of its artists.
We first searched for an existing cooperative effort to join rather than starting a new one. Three of the four cooperative efforts marketed by ISG on its website did not match our vision for an inclusive and artisan-owned cooperative: they were either not cooperatives, not inclusive of all artisans, not focused on handmade goods, or not artisan-owned. Instead, the group merged with the fledgling cooperative effort Guild.art which had a similar mission.
Together with their combined followers on Discord, we named the organization Artisans Cooperative through a series of votes and created the foundational documents, mission statement, social media accounts, domains, and branding in preparation for this announcement.
Our branding centers on a characterful and colorful chicken mascot that resonates with us as artisans beyond the “coop / co-op” wordplay. The chicken is a quirky, hard-working bird found worldwide that produces valuable eggs and comes in all sizes, shapes, and colors. Chickens celebrate the diversity of our business, both in craft and identity.
Artisans Cooperative is in the early stages of development. Our next steps are to gather a virtual community of artisans, supporters, and partners through our website Artisans.coop. We will also gather support through social media and grassroots organizing. We will support our members during the holiday season with gift guides and social posts while we work towards an interim directory website.
In order to democratically formalize the details of the organization with a large community – including the bylaws and the marketplace – The Artisans Cooperative is also recruiting an advisory board and applying to start-up accelerators and incubator programs. With our early advisor from the ICA Group, Shavon Prophet, we will be seeking formal assistance, business advice, and legal advice with the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives and plan to apply for the competitive Start.coop 2023 cooperative incubator program.
The Artisans Cooperative is entirely volunteer-run and self-funded through small donations. We are actively recruiting more volunteer help and fundraising for additional support on start-up costs.
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!