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Become a Member of AHAS

Membership applications are currently not being accepted. If you would like to be notified of the next time it opens, sign up for our waitlist here.



You want to be understood. You want to be connected. You want an anchor you can come back to as you look to grow your business. But it just doesn’t feel that easy.

Maybe you’re shy or introverted. Maybe, between life and owning a business, you just don’t have the time or energy to make this happen. Maybe you just don’t know where to start.


You want more than forums and Facebook filled with self-promotion and hobbyists.

It’s not uncommon for us to hear that makers feel:

  • Disconnected from their peers who are also doing great work.

  • Unsure of how to move forward.

  • Out of place in forums and Facebook filled with self-promotion and hobbyists.


We actively foster a community that is welcoming and totally not scary with opportunities for even the shiest of makers to connect! We go beyond just posting in a group. Which means you have opportunities to understand your business in new ways, get feedback and accountability, plus connect with other talented makers!

The Directors

We’ve got nearly two decades of experience working with makers-- we’ve kinda seen it all! Our passion for creating meaningful connections, valuable resources and opportunities to celebrate makers continues to grow.


Sharon Fain, Founder and Director

After years working with handmade artists, I knew there was a missing element: community outside of “work.” Our interactions seemed limited to fleeting chats at craft shows or maybe occasionally someone would organize a meetup.

It wasn’t enough for a people who are professionals. And in my own work in marketing and PR, I had the ability to be part of a professional association and it helped me greatly! On top of that, I wanted to celebrate the great things makers are doing through an awards show that was peer-based.

Now, four years into Academy of Handmade, I’m so excited to have connected hundreds of makers, celebrated handmade artists through our awards show and supported them through valuable resources and programming.



Isaac Watson, Director

Isaac Watson, Director

Like many makers, I stumbled into starting a handmade business when I started making upcycled jewelry as a hobby, and quickly discovered that there was a huge community of other makers helping each other figure out how to run this whole business thing.

As my handmade business grew, I started working on a an Etsy-sponsored educational program and realized that I was way more interested in helping out other makers with their business than working on my own, so I closed up shop and focused on starting a business to fill in the gaps when the Etsy project ended.

This eventually led me to join forces with Sharon and the Academy of Handmade to take things to the next level, and I’m excited to be working together going forward on supporting you and the maker community.


We think the community you get from Academy of Handmade is pretty outstanding, but don’t take our word for it.


“I have met other stellar artists and creators in the community through the great workshops and gatherings the Academy of Handmade has hosted. It’s a super awesome organization that honors handmade artists as well as creates a professional association for handmade artists and business owners.” -Miriam Dema, Miram Dema Art & Design


"The perspective of other members is priceless! I really benefit from the weekly discussions. Being a solopreneuer is quite isolating, and it's hard to find others that can relate to some of our common concerns. Our friends and family love us, and are compassionate but at times have no idea why we are frustrated due to long tail keyword expectations or other terms that we deal with regularly that are foreign to them.

Being a member of the Academy of Handmade has given me so much confidence. I used to have so many days of self doubt. To have access to so many like minded creatives who are supportive and are just as passionate gives me hope." -Adwoa Grier, Adwoa Designs


"Even though I'm not within the physical region of the Academy of Handmade, being part of the community digitally has been inspiring, uplifting, and so educational! I've discovered some fantastic and inspiring fellow makers, plus the daily educational content is highly useful as I grow my business. I'm looking forward to seeing a full-on MidWest chapter in the near future!" -Elyse Welcher, Little Wings Design



So much! We've really tried to provide you with access to a community and resources that can support your business. Below is the core of what we provide to members. For only $10 a month you get...

  • A digital resources library
  • 24-hour forum access
  • Chance to apply to exclusive mentorship program
  • Holiday Gift Swap with other members
  • Online chats, hangouts and calls
  • Discounts on chapter events
  • Local chapter support where available
  • Free nominations for the AHAS Awards
  • AHAS Awards voting privileges (for members only)

That's right, for the price of about two fancy coffees a month, a movie ticket (less than a movie ticket if you live in LA!), or whatever you spent on your last trip to Target (let's be honest, you can never get out of there without spending more than $10), you get:

Opportunities to Learn and Get Feedback: Our member-only online forum, Product & Design Roundtables, library of resources, and workshops all help to give you business support from your peers and experts in the field.

Social Gatherings and Support: It’s essential to have people that are friends in your industry. So, we try to facilitate social experiences including happy hours, studio tours and coffee meetups. Plus just knowing that someone else on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook is a member has made it easier for online social interaction and support to happen.

Shaping the Future of the Academy: Our Annual Members Meeting gives you the opportunity to hear what’s happening with the Academy, what other members are up to, reflect on your own business, and give input into where the Academy is headed. Don’t live in the chapter areas? No worries! We do our best to gather your feedback before the meeting.

Let’s Celebrate with an Awards Show! While nominations are open to the public, Best Artists are selected by members. Plus members get discounts on tickets to the awards show and free nominations.


  • You take your business seriously and are always looking to improve it
  • You take your craft seriously and believe in a quality product
  • You are looking to invest in a community and other makers
  • You believe that we are better together
  • Facebook groups are an overwhelm of information and drama
  • You are committed to making time to devote to your business and the maker community
  • You want to help others build their businesses
  • You are able to take and give advice, but know that ultimately you are in charge of your business and responsible for its success


  • You are looking for quick fixes and overnight success
  • You don’t have time to give back to a community
  • Your business is a hobby
  • You are unable to make a commitment for a full year to a community
  • You don’t want to do the work
  • You’re not open to new ideas and other ways doing things


Chapters are an integral part of creating community at the local level. All local events are free or discounted for members. Nonmembers are welcome to join us for up to three of our Signature Events (Product & Design Roundtables, Handmade Happy Hours, Lunch & Learns, and Coffee Talks) before we ask that they join as a member. Nonmembers are still welcome at our workshops and other events that are not designated as Signature.

Our current chapters are Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Seattle, Portland, Austin and San Francisco. If you like more information on chapters you can visit our chapters page or email


Being in community with people doing similar work to you is one of the best ways to get perspective and help understanding the path forward. You aren’t alone on this journey! Don’t think that professional friendships and meaningful connections are “just for other people.”


Great! We’ve got answers (hopefully!). These are some of the questions we most frequently get asked. If you have more, don’t hesitate to email us at

How does membership work? We open up membership quarterly (January, April, July, October), but you can pre-apply at any time. Once you’ve been accepted you will soon be given access to our forums and can participate in our programming. At the end of your year with us you will be asked if you would like to renew.

Who is eligible for membership? Membership is open to anyone who is professionally involved in the handmade economy, either as an artist or supporter (more than a fan, but someone who is a resource to make handmade business possible). Because the Academy exists to strengthen handmade businesses, hobbyists, fans, consumers, fine artists and designers who do not handmake (provided that they do not support makers in some capacity) are not eligible to join but are encouraged to participate in events and activities open to non-members. When we say "handmade," we primarily think of those arts which have typically been considered "craft" vs. art or design. Your hands should touch what you make and you are part of the the manufacturing process in some way. OR your business should support others who do.

What exactly is a supporter business? Anyone who supports the business of handmade through blogging, craft shows, coaching, consulting, graphic design, teaching, writing books, etc. This could be almost anything, but we ask that if you join as a support business that makers are key audience that you serve. We will ask you to discuss this in your application.  

I don’t live in a chapter area, can I still be a member? Absolutely! Our members are all over the US and Canada, though there are certain in-person events you wouldn't necessarily be able to take advantage of. But a significant portion of our programming is online, including our weekly coffee chats, mentorship program, accountability partnerships, member only forums and resources directory.

But we totally understand if you are looking for that local connection to the maker community. That's why we are also actively looking to expand our physical presence in communities through chapters. If you are interested in starting a chapter, read more here.

What if I only make one or two things with my hands and the other things I have are manufactured by someone else? We recognize that your business might have a few different aspects to it. That’s totally okay! Just remember that there is a particular ethic to this community that was outlined above to know if we will be a resource for you and if you will be able to contribute to our members.

I make printables or other digital product that I sell on Etsy. Can I apply? Yes, but because this role is one that does not involve handmade manufacturing it is probably not going to be the best fit in terms of aligning with the goals and problems of other members in our community (such as wholesale, craft shows, etc.). That said, what you make is certainly part of the community and if you think you can help other businesses, we would love to have you as a supporter business!

I am an illustrator. How will I fit in with your group? Illustrators are welcome to apply who do not consider themselves fine art and are active in the manufacturing process. We would want to know more about this in the application process. To know if our community will benefit you, will largely be up to your judgment. Consider that our members are mostly part of the handmade marketplace scene (craft shows, farmers markets, Etsy, wholesale to boutiques, etc.) and not typically shown in galleries, etc. That said, we do have several members that have a handmade business and also make art.   

I am a designer that has all of my products made by someone else. Can I apply? For the most part, no, not as a maker. We usually consider “handmade” to either include the use of hands in the beginning creative process (through hand drawings, paints, etc.) or through the manufacturing process (taking a computer design and using craftsmanship to make that design into a product) or both. Because of the intensive nature of this kind of work, makers need support from peers who understand these labor practices, pricing structures and other unique aspects of making. However, if your business is able to somehow offer support to handmade businesses, we encourage you to apply as a supporter.

I have part of my work made by someone else. Is this still handmade? Most makers have some aspect of their work that is not created by them (usually certain materials). The degree to which it can still be considered making and not just “assembling” is somewhat subjective. Some people may have supplies they buy that figure heavily into their work, however it is their creativity that transforms it into something special. Others might work to create pieces they have designed then have someone else assemble or put on finishing touches. All of this can still be considered handmade. Please make sure to be as clear as possible in the application about the creativity you infuse into your work and your participation in the manufacturing process.

What if I am not doing my handmade business full time? We encourage business owners of all types and scale to join, but the point is that you are pursuing it as a business and not a hobby. That’s totally cool with us if that business is just on the side so that you can make some extra money or it’s part-time for now until you can get to a place where you can quit your day job.

What’s the application process like? The membership application involves the following steps and can take up to weeks to process your membership when applications open depending on the season.

  1. Application Fee and Membership Dues: You will be required to first pay your non-refundable application fee ($15) up front and your annual membership dues (paid at $10/month) will begin after you have been accepted. Dues will be canceled if you are not admitted into the Academy (so we try to accept you within that two week window. If you are not accepted in that time we will refund you the money that you were charged).

  2. Application Submission: Please fill out the application form giving as much detail as possible. This will help us in deciding if you meet the eligibility requirements.

  3. Acceptance: Congratulations! You are now officially a member of the Academy of Handmade Artists and Supporters and may enjoy all of its privileges as well as the responsibility to celebrate, strengthen and connect with the handmade business community you have now joined.

  4. Non-Acceptance: If you do not meet the eligibility requirements, you will receive a notice telling you why. If you feel there has been confusion and/or error in the decision you may petition the Academy for another look at your application. Further details will be given at the time of non-acceptance.

I’ve got other makers who I am already friends with that give me support, why should I pay you money for that? Great question. If you feel like you get regular support and social interaction through facilitating your own events and attending experiences you believe like-minded folks are at, then that's awesome! Many of our members are also part of other business support organizations because we know that everyone has unique business needs. More than anything, we want you to feel like that you have the resources and support for your handmade business readily available to you. If you've found this elsewhere then fantastic!

I run my business with a partner or partners. Is there any kind of group discount? It depends. Email so we can talk about it more.

This is for a year. What if I want to quit? We understand that "life happens", but are VERY strict with our one-year commitment. Your payments are for a full 12 months and this is not a "cancel any time plan." A year is a year and it's important for us to maintain a commitment to community through this. You can remove yourself from membership, but your payments will continue through your committed year. Signing up is a promise to us that we depend on for financial predictably, work flow and other items that might not be a big deal to a corporation but affect our small business greatly.

Our Members Have More to Say!


"It's a place to belong. Having this community (which for me, is virtual, since I'm in the southeast) helps encourage me to keep at it and learn from othersFollowing along with different members, even from afar, and having content that's carefully curated just for creatives, connects us all together through community and education." -Sarah Mandell, Once Again Sam

"Creating a path to running a successful handmade business does not come with a manual and many young solo-employee companies struggle to connect with other businesses. During the last four years, I've discovered the key to success, for me, is networking and mingling with other successful entrepreneurs. Connections help to push me forward in all aspects of my business. I seek to surround myself with people who are smarter and more knowledgeable than myself. I've found all these things and more with the Academy of Handmade. I love the online experience of meeting people from all over but also connecting with my local chapter at in-person events. I am looking forward to continuing my journey as an Academy of handmade entrepreneur." - Rebecca Saylor, OodleBaDoodle and Co-Captain of SF Etsy


The community I've found in the Academy of Handmade has been invaluable to me both as an artist and small business owner, and for the growth of my stationery business. Before becoming a member, I'd participated in groups where support was inconsistent, resources were mediocre and engagement faded over time. AHAS is the opposite.

The value of this community seems to continually increase with the addition of new resources and opportunities for creative business owners to connect and learn from each other in smart, meaningful ways. It is not only a space to connect with fellow artists, but a space to prioritize growth and accountability as small business owners. Rather than competing, I continually see members celebrating each other, sharing savvy business strategies and offering constructive feedback with true insight and generosity. Sharon Fain has built something truly remarkable with the Academy of Handmade, and I am so grateful to be a part of it. - Kimberly Taylor-Pestell, Lacelit

You are a talented maker and you deserve a community of peers who can help you become better at your business, show that you are serious about it and enrich your support network.

Academy of Handmade does not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations. These activities include, but are not limited to, membership, hiring and firing of staff/contractors, selection of volunteers and vendors, and provision of services. We are committed to providing an inclusive and welcoming environment for all members, volunteers, vendors, and anyone else that works with our community.