Awards Process and Criteria

We have a few ground rules for all of our nominated businesses. Please make sure to read below.

  • Business must be established for at least 12 months.
  • Nominations are open to any business that conducts business in the US or Canada.
  • Nominations are open to the public (as in nonmembers), however members may nominate for free. Only Academy of Handmade members will be able to vote on the winners for Best Artist, Handmade Community Superstar and Outstanding Supporter Business.
  • You may nominate in multiple categories, but you may only nominate one business per category.
  • You are welcome to nominate yourself! By all means, if you feel like you're the best in a category, then you should nominate yourself.
  • While the nomination process is open to the "public", it is specifically geared toward members of the craft and maker community. Therefore, this is not a process where you should solicit aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. to nominate you unless they are part of the community. 
  • On the nominations form you will be asked about the nature of the nominated business, anything that makes it a leader as a business and in its artistic endeavors, and its involvement in the handmade community. These answers will be supplied to members during the voting process.

Nomination Fees

Non-Members: $15
Members: Free


Definitions for Handmade & Supporter Business Categories

Please refer to the definitions below when nominating someone.


  • Artists’ work must be primarily done by their own hands. Any machines used in the manufacturing process must be operated by the the artist-owner.  All products by the artist do not need to comply with this, but they should have at least one product in their business that does.

  • Micro-Business Mentality: You want to create a viable business for yourself doing the thing you love-- making a particular product or products. While you desire sustainable growth, you are not interested in becoming the CEO of “I Make_____, Inc.” You aren’t a tech start-up that wants to just create great ideas, prove they’re great then sell your business. Your whole reason for being in and staying in business is because you believe there is something special about what you have to offer through creating. That doesn't mean this won't change, but this is where you are at in your business right now.

  • Involved with Manufacturing Process: Because you have a micro-business mentality, your path to sustainability does not involve farming out everything you can so you can make more money and creating factory-style assembly lines. It does involve outsourcing particular parts of your work, but ultimately you enjoy making products that others enjoy so you would never consider letting someone else have all the fun!

  • Involved in Creative Process: Your creative spark is what makes your business stand out from the rest. You have a special way of expressing yourself through your work. Your products could never be designed by someone else because then, they just wouldn’t be yours.  

  • All artistic businesses nominated must be owned in part by someone who is involved in the making of the product(s).


  • Supporters (not artists) must have a significant involvement in the handmade community, with content and clients relating to handmade business.

  • This can be any kind of business service that serves to teach, inspire or assist makers in their businesses.

Best Artist Categories

  • Paper
  • Woven Textiles: Loom items, etc.
  • Nonwoven Textiles: materials such as felt, etc.
  • Needlework (knitted, crocheted, and embroidered items)
  • Metal
  • Ceramics
  • Upcycling
  • Wood
  • Edible
  • Mixed Media/Other
  • Stones and Living Materials
  • Leather

Other Categories

  • Community Superstar sponsored by Aftcra, with a $100 gift card from Paper Mart
  • Master Maker sponsored by Creativelive
  • Best Business Supporting Handmade


We talk more about the awards and I why created them on this podcast.

When are nominees notified of their nomination?

We send out emails bi-weekly to nominees, so please wait at least a week before inquiring about a nomination.

Can I know who nominated me?

We really don't want nominations to occur in order to curry favor with a nominee. Some people have asked if they could know so they could thank the nominee and while that is a lovely gesture, there are also a lot of logistics that go into disclosing nominators to nominees and keeping some private. If someone nominates you it is up to them if they feel like disclosing their identity to you. 

Can I nominate myself?

Oh yes! If you really think that you've been doing an awesome job this last year, toot your own horn, by all means!

Why do nominations cost?

There are very real expenses organizing this process, as well as it just a lot of time! Many awards of this kind have fees of $35+ for nominations. We want to make it as attainable as possible to give someone a high five while still able to make the awards sustainable.

What do I get if I win?

First you'll receive major props and high-fives for really kicking butt at your business this past year. Best Artists will receive a special prize package that includes business and craft tools and services donated by our sponsors. This includes:

We will also be adding more sponsors to this list so stay tuned!

Sponsored BY


These businesses are our special partners in celebrating makers through our show. Follow them-- they will be giving out discount codes for nominations!

And These Generous Partners