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Handmade Policy

Artisans Cooperative is the first "verified" handmade marketplace. On this page, we’ll explain what we mean by "handmade" and "verified," and how our engaged community verifies handmade status and enforces non-compliance.

Why "handmade"?

Ownership matters and fair prices matter. That’s why we need to talk about the cost of handmade. Read about the value of handmade, the pricing of handmade, and the risk of making things by hand:
Fair Prices & Shared Ownership >>>

What does Artisans Cooperative mean by “handmade”?

“Handmade” is a cultural concept, and its definition has vexed artists and thinkers for hundreds of years. We do not propose to solve this impossible problem, but to define what “handmade” means for our marketplace.

As a community, we have created a policy that creates a technical definition of “handmade” for our marketplace with some specific examples of what we do and do not allow.

Our technical definition of "handmade" is:

  1. The definition of an artisan for the purposes of our marketplace is a person, micro-business, or collective that produces handmade goods for sale.
  2. Handmade goods are authentic original works produced with the care, dexterity / skill, and judgment of the artisan, under the workmanship of risk.
  3. The workmanship of risk is an original idea proposed by artisan David Pye. In essence, it means that at some point in the process, the artisan could ruin the work.

For more information, including clarification on whether some types of products are allowed, a glossary of terms, and details about in-house, outsourced, and Print-on-Demand (POD) production, please read the Handmade Policy

What does Artisans Cooperative mean by “verified”?

Artisans Co-op has a process by which actual humans verify that a shop can be considered “handmade,” in order to ensure that every product on the marketplace is authentically handmade. To do so, we rely primarily on an engaged community, using our strength as a cooperative: people power.

Verification happens through a voluntary Handmade Verification process: shops on the Artisans Co-op marketplace submit a Handmade Verification Application, which asks questions intended to establish whether the shop is in compliance with our Handmade Policy.

For each application there are two reviewers, who are fellow verified handmade artisans overseen by our Handmade Committee. Reviewers are incentivized to participate because they earn membership points for their reviews and time, and because as fellow artisans, they care about having a genuinely handmade marketplace with fair competition.

The two reviews are “blind.” If both reviewers agree it meets the policy,  the shop will earn the label “verified.” This will appear as a shop label on the marketplace and  filter / tag that customers use in search. We also plan further benefits of the “verified” label, such as marketing features and social media posts.  

How does Artisans Cooperative enforce their Handmade Policy?

Enforcement of our Handmade Policy relies on our caring community and engaged membership. It is done entirely by humans, not bots. Verification is the first level of enforcement, because shops that do not pass verification will not be allowed to sell on the marketplace.

For shops that don’t submit applications, or for products that might slip through the cracks, we have a safety net:  the power of community is harnessed to enforce compliance.

We provide a report link on each and every listing and in our website footer - This link opens a form where a number of alleged violations can be reported: non-compliance with the Handmade Policy, intellectual property rights / DMCA takedown requests, and non-compliance with our Mature Content / NSFW Policy, Terms of Service (ToS), Privacy Policy, The 7 Cooperative Principles, or any of our other policies.

Successful enforcement reports earn members points. However, in our Handmade Policy, we also have measures in place to prevent bad actors from using the enforcement process abusively or incorrectly, and to protect artisans from that burden.


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

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