The original founders of RDIA separated into different categories those businesses that manufacture diapers primarily for wholesale (Manufacturers) and those who make diapers one at a time, primarily for retail (Small Manufacturers). Just adding the descriptor “small” makes it seem that size is the main difference between the businesses in the two categories, but it isn’t.
Because the description “small manufacturer” alone didn’t convey this difference adequately, at the July 1, 2009, meeting of the board of directors, they agreed to refer to this category as “Small Manufacturer, artisan.” This better conveys the original intent of separating this category from “Manufacturer.” In many places on the RDIA website, you will see the category referred to as “Small Manufacturer (artisan).” You might also see references to “Manufacturer > Retail,” which describes many small manufacturers (artisans) whose primary business is one-to-one selling to end users of cloth diapers. Sometimes you will just see all manufacturers, both "Small manufacturers" and "Manufacturers" referred to together as "Manufacturers" in reference to regulations. CPSIA, for example, applies to all manufacturers of any size, so there is no reason to separate the categories. Sometimes the differences matter, and sometimes they don't.
Many manufacturers began their businesses at their kitchen tables, and many artisans deliberately keep business at home. Small manufacturers (artisans) may make one-of-a-kind (OOAK) and one-at-a-time cloth diapers, or they may occasionally have wholesale accounts. Small manufacturers (artisans) may consider themselves work-at-home mothers or they may have small studios. Small manufactuers (artisans) may focus on the craft of making quality cloth diapers, or they may focus on decorative diaper design---or both. Whatever the focus on their businesses, small manufacturers are at heart craftspeople who are more likely to have Etsy or other craft sales accounts than wholesale accounts.
Many RDIA members operate in more than one business category. Though members are asked to self-select the category that most closely describes their primary business category, sometimes our administrator will help new members choose an appropriate category.
Small manufacturer (artisan) businesses are not all the same. You are the one who has to determine what category you operate under as allowed in the bylaws. All of the RDIA categories are flexible to cover those of us who make up the cloth diaper industry. If you wonder whether your business is in the right category, review category descriptions from the RDIA bylaws and contact admin at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
NOTE: Since this explanation was posted in 2011, RDIA has changed the category name for these members to Artisan Manufacturer. Members passed this change to the bylaws March 2012.