Start-up Cooperative Online Marketplace Receives Backing of US Federation of Worker Cooperatives and USDA Rural Grant
Crafters are transforming the energy of the Etsy Strike into a marketplace of their own. After its October 2022 announcement that it is building a cooperative online marketplace for the artisan community, Artisans Cooperative is now revealing that the startup has recruited the help of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives and, through it, grant funds from the USDA.
The U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperative (USFWC) will foster and support Artisans Cooperative in its early stages through their Co-op Clinic. As grant facilitators of the USDA Rural Cooperative Development Grant program, the USFWC will allocate grant funds toward the start-up technical assistance of the Artisans Cooperative. Funds will be used for setting up democratic governance structures and business plan support. Crafters, makers, and artisans are disproportionately rural: an Etsy demographics report from 2015 found 39% of Etsy sellers in the US were rural, as compared to 21% of the national average.
Artisans Cooperative was born from the April 2022 Etsy Strike and is being built by creatives. The group announced its intention to build an online handmade marketplace – a co-op alternative to Etsy – in October 2022, and plans to launch the basic marketplace by October 2023. Membership will be open to artisans and their supporters and partners.
Artisans Cooperative Organizer Valerie Schafer Franklin said, “Crafters and customers crave a better marketplace for handmade goods. We can’t count on greedy Wall Street executives to deliver it. That’s why crafters and customers are coming together to build the marketplace we both want: filled with unique, creative, and authentically-handmade goods, and owned and operated for our own benefit as member-owners. Membership with the USFWC and the technical assistance and training they provide is essential for our ability to launch an artisan-owned alternative to Etsy in record speed.”
Matt Feinstein, Co-op Clinic Program Manager for USFWC, said, “The USFWC is happy to support the crafters and customers of Artisans Cooperative who are taking on Wall Street greed and returning power to the crafters. The cooperative model is the best way to ensure that a company’s mission remains focused on the needs of its workers and the communities they are a part of. USFWC’s Co-op Clinic and our team of expert staff and advisers are ready to help Artisans Cooperative use the cooperative model to create a better online handmade marketplace.”
The United States Federation of Worker Cooperative is the national grassroots membership organization for worker cooperatives. Their mission is to build a thriving cooperative movement of stable, empowering jobs through worker-ownership. The Federation includes more than 350 business and organizational members. We represent the 1,000 estimated worker co-ops and their 10,000 workers across the country.
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.