A resurgence in handmade crafts over the past several years has opened up a treasure trove of products and lifestyles that make websites such as Pinterest and Etsy possible. The community has grown into festivals and conferences, and now, it has its own Academy Awards.
Sharon Fain and KC Sears, the founders of the Academy of Handmade Artists and Supporters (academyofhandmade.com), started this project because they thought makers needed more acknowledgment. "Every industry has awards where you can enter your stuff for recognition," Fain says. "But in [the crafting community], there were only online contests that didn't have anything to do with peer approval. It was more about how many Facebook friends you had."
The girls ought to know; they were in it. Fain helped Sears with the PR and marketing for her company Make.Shop.Live., for which Sears makes everything from bottle-cap pin cushions to naturally dyed textiles. Making money is part of it, but Fain believes it speaks to a greater cultural shift. "People want to get back to a less capitalistic, pyramid-scheme type of world where they can contribute directly to a business," Fain says. "We're interested in things that are unique in a society where most things are mass-produced."
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The Academy of Handmade is a way to solidify this shift. They host intensive workshops to help people turn their hobbies into small businesses, focusing on everything from wholesaling to booth design to product photography with a panel of experts who offer tailored advice. "The social aspect of this means a lot to people," Fain says, pointing out that at-home businesses can be isolating, causing crafters to spend too much time with their cats.
The first awards show will be held on April 26 at Art Share in Los Angeles. Non-members can nominate their favorite maker for $10, but if you have a deeper interest in the community, consider signing up for a 12-month membership for $85 and nominate for free! Polls close on March 19. Hell, even if you're not a crafter or supporter, join! The bigger the community, the more resources and strength to fight the man!