Home More... Clarification to Handmade on Folksy

Clarification to Handmade on Folksy

by James

This week has seen Folksy make some clarifications to its terms around our definition of “handmade”. In 2008 we stated that items which could be sold on Folksy must be “majority handmade” using the craft skills of the maker. Although this definition has not changed, it has not been sufficiently enforced and has been interpreted differently by makers and designers. We therefore took the decision last week reiterate our definition of handmade. The timing of this decision was based partly on reacting to a groundswell of complaints and also in consideration of the re-launch in November. At least one of the following criteria must be met to satisfy our definition of handmade (taken from the full terms) and list on Folksy:

  • Craft Skills: The item is handmade by you through a craft practice, for example knitting (either using a pattern you have created or one that you have permission to use), woodturning or sewing.
  • Original Design: The item has an original design. For example we allow knitted garments made using mass produced wool, handbags made using mass produced fabric or jewellery designs using mass produced beads as long as these are based on an original design. Also, the item may not be made by you (e.g. prints of illustrations or photographs or decals of original artwork) but must be your original design and not a copy of someone else’s.

You only have to meet ONE of the above points for your work to qualify as handmade. If in any doubt whether your work meets these criteria please email support@folksy.co.uk Our decision to clarify the terms is also in direct response to:

  1. Negative reaction to many items on Folksy which were ‘assembled’ from mass produced items.
  2. The growth in the number of ‘assembled’ items as a proportion of the total work on Folksy. Jewellery in particular, was affected.
  3. Our vision for the business, which is to focus more on craft skills and build a brand which is clearly aligned with handmade work (as well as craft supplies).

There exist a number of services online that allow you to sell items and Folksy needs to have a clear identity if it is to grow and continue its success and support skilled makers and designers.

Concerns about the clarification to Handmade

We have read the feedback on the forums, on email, twitter, Facebook and on blogs and whilst there has been lots of positive support for what we’ve sought to do, there has also been concern about the clarification and our communication of it. The negative responses revolve around a few points, each of which I’d like to respond to.

  • It’s not fair as many have invested time in promoting their work on Folksy and they might not be allowed to sell there now.

People who have spent time and money on promoting their work on Folksy can still save their listings and use them to sell. The definition applies to all new listings. However, listings made before the 7th September do not need to comply with the definition of handmade until November 1st. This gives people selling ‘non-handmade’ items time to sell their item or change their listing to a ‘handmade’ item if they should wish to.

  • It’s too ambiguous and isn’t being implemented consistently.

We’ve consulted widely and have produced a definition of “handmade” which we feel works for buyers, makers and designers. We may seek to improve the wording but the spirit of the definition will remain unchanged. The support team have been implementing the definition with continuous reference to the criteria we have and whilst we don’t discuss individual accounts, we are being consistent in our decision making, being incredibly careful where we set precedents for different artefacts and offering our rationale on our decision to everyone who contacts us with a query.

  • The communications around the clarification have been poor and left many unsure about where they stand.

We realise a managed communication should have been in place before we made the announcement and we should have justified our decision at the time, rather than after the event. We apologise for not managing this as well as we would have liked. Going forward, we’ll be making the new terms more obvious around the site, in the context where they are needed, such as new listings and in shop set-up. We’ll also be making a simple document for makers and designers to reference – the current support system is aimed at addressing specific queries and is too complex for people just wanting to know basic terms.

  • That we’re policing the handmade policy by encouraging people using the site to report items that breach our terms.

We use a variety of different mechanisms to moderate activity on Folksy. The support team view hundreds of items a day and check on the work of a sample of new sellers. We also allow people to “report inappropriate content”, a post moderation tool used by the majority of marketplace websites. Items reported are viewed by the support team who make a judgement on whether that item contravenes any of our terms (such as handmade, but also copyright, pornography etc.). Buyers and makers do this of their free will and we don’t expect people to do this, nor do we rely on people to do it, it is just one of the ways moderation functions.

Some people have suggested that we should ‘vet’ new shops or newly listed items. We are looking at a process of accrediting new sellers before their work is published (not juried according to taste – but whether they meet the terms) on Folksy and this could well be something we look to implement going forward.

In the meantime and to help people see how we are implementing the clarified terms, here are some examples of what we do not consider to be handmade. This is not a comprehensive list and if you are unsure if your work may be affected please contact support via our Helpdesk.

Examples of what we do not consider to be handmade.

  • Jewellery made with one charm or stone that hasn’t been made by you attached to earrings, necklaces, rings etc.  If the charm is the defining feature of the piece, then this doesn’t constitute an original design, this applies even if there are the addition of other charms or beads to the piece.
  • One mass produced element on a card does not constitute an original design.  Multiple items on cards that are used to build up an original design are fine.
  • Gift tags made using images that are not created by you.
  • Confetti made from mass produced stamp cutters.
  • Use of mass produced rubber stamps on items with no other design or associated craft skill.
  • Any badges and mirrors that do not use original designs.

Our decision should not be taken as a value judgement on ‘assembled’ work. Some of it is brilliant and also sells well. Our decision is aimed at defining Folksy as a brand and a business for the long term. We wish all those people who sell items we no longer support, or who have chosen not to sell on Folksy, all the very best. We would like to thank everyone who continues to support Folksy. Going forward we aim to show that the work of makers and designers on Folksy will be better supported because of the decision we have made regarding handmade now.


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Linziloop September 12, 2011 - 5:07 pm

I would just like to say – Thank You! Finally, the end of assembled jewellery – that will make searching for things SO much easier as I found the jewellery was starting to really clog everything up, and it’s not exactly inspiring to see.

I think this is an excellent policy for a handmade site and I can see Folksy moving forward in leaps and bounds because of it.

It also shows your support and genuine appreciation of those who put the time and effort into properly making their items.

Hopefully it will also make pricing between items more consistent so people don’t see the cheap assembled jewellery alongside the properly handmade stuff and wonder what the heck is going on or that they’re getting ripped off by the person selling the properly handmade stuff.

Love it xxx

Tania September 12, 2011 - 6:47 pm

As an artist/maker I strive to create new ideas that have (at least a degree of) originality, although this can be challenging with so much out there. I joined Folksy in the belief that it was a leading forum for all things creative and was not diluted by other forms of enterprise. I have nothing against people making a living using existing designs and methods but true creative enterprise needs to defend the time, effort and originality that it entails. The new policy will effect one or two of my products that I have produced to cater for a mainstream market (e.g. message gift cards) but I still whole heartedly support this move. It would be far easier for Folksy to “sell out” by allowing anything that is saleable on the website. Well done for sticking to your values Folksy!

Charlotte September 12, 2011 - 7:21 pm

This is a much better description of what is and isn’t allowed, with good examples to illustrate. It has helped me clarify which of my items (cards) I need to adapt or delist!

Olivia September 12, 2011 - 8:11 pm

Thank you, I found this very helpful…

Ricardo September 12, 2011 - 8:31 pm

Brilliant, Thanks.

Well said.

Quirky Quartz September 12, 2011 - 9:02 pm

HERE, HERE! I’m fairly new to folksy, but I agree whole heartedly with the new policy, it’s a bit heart breaking to spend an hour on a peice to put on the site, only to see it next to a mass market, assembled item, going for a similar price, which probably took five minutes to araldite together and stick on a chain.
It will give room for the true artists and artisans (of which there are many, you clever folk) to be seen, and to keep the prices fair. WELL DONE FOLKSY! Happy crafting everyone, see you on the other side of November :-)

Sarah September 12, 2011 - 9:07 pm

This is great to read Folksy, thank you for tightening up. I cut all my own dress patterns and find my clothing listed along side people using recognisable designs from patterns that are sold for personal use only.

heather aka NiftyKnits September 12, 2011 - 9:50 pm

This is much clearer, thank you. I look forward to seeing the removal of all the commercial-pattern knits.

Caro Fenice September 12, 2011 - 10:14 pm

I have heard loads of negative stuff flying about about this but I have to say, after reading it for myself, that I wholeheartedly agree with your decision. Well done guys :D

jamesb September 13, 2011 - 11:08 am

Thank you for the comments. It’s really heartening to know the clarifications are helpful to so many people and the direction is one you agree with.

Hannelore September 13, 2011 - 12:01 pm

Although you keep saying that you are just clarifying and applying the rules, it seems strange that you actually featured some sellers on your blog in the past that make some of these wonderful, but sadly disallowed, items. That means they did not “slip through” but were actively approved.

see: Candle Making :: Inspiring Creativity
Posted by Hilary on September 14, 2010

So candles in glasses etc. were OK then but not now? Does the skill of melting, scenting, colouring,layering etc. not count? What about the customers? As a customer I never buy loose candles, as I don’t want to have to find a container or saucer for my candles.

Also I found a couple of “vintage charm” necklaces featured in your blog a while ago. Although they are “vintage” charms they are just that, a charm on a chain. So a charm necklace is “Handmade” if it has an old charm on it, but “inappropriate” if it is a modern one. They did mass-produce stuff in the 50s and 60s you know! The same skills are used, the same creativity is used but suddenly they are wrong.

I appreciate you do not want twenty sellers selling the same pendant on a chain with no distinguising creative touches, however most people want to put something of themselves into it to give it its “unique selling point”. That was certainly the case of many of my friends on Folksy who are now having to find alternative selling venues, just before the major selling season.

I have not really had time to look at other blog posts, but I’m sure there will be many other examples of other now “inappropriate” items that have been featured in one way or other on your site or blog.

Many of the items that now are no longer desired for your vision of Folksy have been traded on here for a quite a few years and have become “Custom and Practice” over this time. Because of this you really have set a precedent and this is now understood to be the contract that sellers enter into with Folksy. This constitutes a “Course of Trade”, as the T&Cs have customarily not been enforced. Where a person has for a period of time entered into similar contracts “in good faith” with Folksy, i.e. as confirmed by Folksy accepting the 20p and not imposing any new control at the time of acceptance, that person should have every expectation that Folksy would perform this new contract in the same manner, i.e. that the listing should be allowed to run for the length of the contracted period. If Folksy is changing the way it is applying the T&Cs, it really should allow the listings previously entered to run their full time or otherwise refund the monies. Not only would this meet the legal expectations of their Customers, it would be nice.

It is sad that talk about Legal Rights have to come into it instead of being a community where we help each other to build up our businesses.


Cat Among the Pigeons September 13, 2011 - 1:14 pm


I think the clarification you have made regarding handmade items is fair enough and I do welcome it. However you have not addressed the issue of what to do with items that have been listed and paid for that are no longer considered handmade? Will you allow them to complete their time paid for online until they are delisted? or if you force Folksters to delist will you refund them the money spent on the listing?


SeaTearS September 13, 2011 - 1:34 pm

With the changes that are about to come into practice, it has given me an opportunity to have alook at my own way of doing things here, and and with it reinvent seatears.

Luckily i was not one of those that recieved the”e-mail” regarding my work, even though I felt a few peices could be in that “grey” area.
They say a picture “paints a thousand words” this is true, but experience has taught me you need to explain and “educate” the viewer.

Taking this on board i felt it was important to perhaps make more of a description on the procces and items used, this could be very important for thos who feel in the “grey” area.

Im not one for “assembled” jewelery “persay” Heavens we could get anyone to do it, they after all do it in “sweat shops” around the world. (No cynicism intended).

On the whole this should be a way of “self evaluation” and just a continuation along the “crafting” road. After all…Folksy dose not make us….WE make Folksy.

Michele September 13, 2011 - 1:44 pm

As regards prints of artwork ie limited editions or reproductions, I wonder if Folksy have considered putting standards or rules in place for the production of these prints. I am not talking about the artwork itself but the process. I see a lot of so called ‘prints’ run off on home printers with fugitive (liable to fade very quickly) inks and sold for a fiver. This is disappointing for those of us who ensure a high standard to our prints. I can see it might be hard to police, but some guidlines might help people.

Sarah September 13, 2011 - 8:10 pm

I think your definitions are both rather broad and very narrow at the same time. As a purchaser this shop has always been more clunky to use than etsy. I feel you are being insulting to many sellers in your definitions. There are a lot of skills which you now seem to be disrespecting. I am particuarly appalled at calling people who make jewellery assemblers only, there is much skill involved; or saying candle making is to be disallowed. Your statement has alienated me as a purchaser. God forbid if I ever thought I was good enough to sell on the site. As long as people know what it is that they are getting it should be their choice. People who produced original art work and sell copies should be allowed to do so in my view – no one else made it did they?

Anyway, I despair. What a mess!

Tom's Photography Store September 13, 2011 - 9:44 pm

I don’t think this has anything to do with “craft” or “skills” or “hand made” vs “hand assembled”, it’s all to do with Folksy being scared of being sued for copyright infringement.
I think this is highlighted by Folksy allowing “One mass produced element on a card does not constitute an original design. Multiple items on cards that are used to build up an original design are fine” whereas “if the charm is the defining feature of the piece, then this doesn’t constitute an original design, this applies even if there are the addition of other charms or beads to the piece.” What a contradiction!!!!! You can’t allow more than mass produced piece on a card and none on an item of jewellry, they equate to the same thing.

Speaking semantically pretty much every item on here can be deemed as “hand assembled” where the base materials are mass produced.

evecollection September 14, 2011 - 10:33 am

Would be nice to know. Do you made anything yourown? If I’ll made all supplies my own .. What about cost of my craft? Who will be buy it? This shop for not very rich people… And I think our buyers can be our judge.

Jenny September 14, 2011 - 9:39 pm

In your blog you state the following

We use a variety of different mechanisms to moderate activity on Folksy. The support team view hundreds of items a day and check on the work of a sample of new sellers.


People who have spent time and money on promoting their work on Folksy can still save their listings and use them to sell. The definition applies to all new listings. However, listings made before the 7th September do not need to comply with the definition of handmade until November 1st. This gives people selling ‘non-handmade’ items time to sell their item or change their listing to a ‘handmade’ item if they should wish to.

But there are a lot of NEW items being listed since 7th September that do not comply with your criteria of “handmade” yet that are being listed every second but you are stating your team view hundreds of items a day.

I am not sure everyone realises that point. Some people have suggested that emails from folksy may have to go to everyone not be an opt in option otherwise some people won’t hear of changes being implemented not just now but in the future.

I think you should have given longer time for people to meet the criteria starting with a new vetting system for new shops opening otherwise it will continue and someone can open a shop up with items spend their time and money setting it all up,taking all the photos, listing, descriptions etc etc (this can take ages) and find none of it is allowed.

At the moment am i right in thinking you are relying on individual shops who have read your criteria via email or seen it on the forum to contact you themselves to get their shop items okayed? as if this is the case there are lots of shops who have not approached you and you will still have items in shops after 31st October that do not fit your criteria and i see this causing a lot of ill feeling amongst folksy sellers to the shops who have delisted and removed items as theirs do not fit.

If you do not have vetting from new shops and have this in place i cannot see how you can view every new item being listed and be consistent with it all.


RebeccaSurgey September 15, 2011 - 12:26 pm

I think generally what you’re trying to do is a positive thing. I sell on etsy also and I despair at some of the tat they allow on there, clearly copied, obviously mass produced. I don’t think they care that much! It’s hard to moderate it I guess, but that’s what’s needed for these rules to be applied. There’s a lot still on here that breaches your new rules.
Would it be such a bad thing for people to apply to have a shop on Folksy?


Sally September 15, 2011 - 8:10 pm

“It’s not fair as many have invested time in promoting their work on Folksy and they might not be allowed to sell there now.”

I think that your response to this comment is very dismissive. Having been a seller and community member on Folksy since 2008, sold over 350 items and in the last year alone Ive paid almost £90 in Folksy fees I feel slightly betrayed by this change. Many of the items I make come under your “assembled jewellery” title – it seems from your definition that making jewellery from any sort of mass produced beads or charms does not constitute “handmade”. I understand that you feel the need to define yourself, but could you not have done that 3 years ago before I put so much of my time, money and hard work into promoting myself on this website?

You’ve not exactly given me a long time to change my listings either – under 2 months ensure all my listings are compliant with your new rules. I’ve paid for several listings very recently, some last until Feb 2012 – I hope if you’re going to make me remove them in November you’re also going to refund the money I paid.

I feel as if I’ve been used – I’ve stuck with Folksy through Beta phase and all the site crashes and changes to layout, happily handed over my money on time at the end of every month; but now you’ve taken enough money from me and others selling these forbidden items to expand to a level at which you’re happy to dispose of us.

I know that you think of yourself as a community, however you have to remember you are also providing a service and the customers are the sellers and buyers on this site. Making your site into an exclusive club is not going to encourage those new to crafting to join. Changing your rules when those that are already members have invested a large amount of ourselves into the site so that we must now be excluded is an ultimately selfish manouver.

There’s no way I can go on selling on Folksy after this, especially if I have to sell some “legal” items here and others on a different site. You might say good riddance, but unless I start conjuring items from their base elements I wont feel like Im good enough for this website: I want crafting to be fun and enjoyable for me, not a constant concern that my jewellery is not handmade enough.

Susan Janiszewski September 16, 2011 - 10:35 am

I’ve really got nothing new to say, but need to express my disappointment in the way Folksy are treating such loyal sellers. Many have been here since Folksy was ‘born’ and been tireless in their promotion of the site. Your ‘ clarification’ statements are becoming more garbled by the day and wildly ‘inappropriate’ items are being listed in their droves !
Although the majority of my shop stock should be unaffected by the ‘clarifications’ ( as far as I can understand !) I am seiously considering other sales outlets as an alternative to Folksy.

HobbityDog September 20, 2011 - 9:50 pm

The new policy has not clarified anything for me, I’m afraid. On the one hand, I do get the need to discourage assembly pieces but exactly how far back do you go until an item is hand-made enough to qualify? I customise (for want of a better word) blank items, creating my own embroidery patterns and embellishments but I certainly don’t have the time, space and wherewithall to make everything from scratch. Is this allowed under the new regime? Feeling a little discouraged, I have to admit.

Ingrid Jayne September 20, 2011 - 10:40 pm

HobbityDog I think it would be fair so say that they don’t have an answer for that, because they don’t know themselves.

Their ‘vision’ is as clear as mud. Unless they spell it out in large (un)friendly letters then they are at risk of losing the confidence of considerably more customers* than they first thought.

*their bread and butter; sellers who attract the END customers, sales commissions and VAT.

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