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Making Nest’s Standards US-Labor Law Compliant: Setting a Path for Supporting US Makers

This special guest post comes from Nest’s Chief Operating Officer, Chris van Bergen

In developing Nest’s model for ethical compliance in homes and small workshops, we have sought to ensure that the program meets the needs of both our brand partners as well as the artisans we serve. To do this, we’ve sought to create enough flexibility for the program to evolve, allowing us to appropriately address the ever-changing regulations and requirements placed upon both artisans and the brands they work with. We are now actively seeking funding for the creation of new modules that can link up with our compliance program to make room for this growth.

Given the robust and nuanced nature of US Labor Law, particularly as it relates to home-based labor allowances, we are giving special attention to our compliance program for US-based artisan businesses to ensure that these enterprises can successfully interface with the country’s very stringent existing legal requirements.

Our aims are both to help foster growth of the existing maker movement in the US, while creating new opportunities for traditional American craftspeople – from the hills of Appalachia to Native American communities – to be able to grow their businesses by utilizing Nest’s compliance resources while still complying with US labor laws. We know that this level of assurance not only enforces artisan wellbeing; it also provides prospective sourcing partners like home and design brands with much-needed assurance surrounding ethical practice within their home-based supply chains.

This week, I am here in Florence, Alabama to learn from Nest artisan partner, Alabama Chanin, and its founder (and Nest Advisory Board Member) Natalie Chanin. It’s not the first time we have teamed up to tackled common challenges standing in the way of craft advancement in the US – and as always, we aim to transform challenge into opportunity.

Already, Natalie and her team have poured their own time and resources into developing an innovative (and truly revolutionary!) model for working with cottage industry producers, building a system that utilizes the remarkable quilting, sewing, and embroidery skills of women in their homes all across the rural South, while still managing to appropriately comply with US Labor requirements. On top of this, the Alabama Chanin system, one built on the artisan empowerment, accountability and ownership, has also dramatically improved quality control across the Alabama Chanin supply chain. It’s an honor that Natalie and her team are willing to take the time to teach me a thing or to about their highly successful (and compliant!) approach.

I will be making the most of my time here absorbing as much information as possible to help give Nest a baseline understanding of what our US Labor Law compliance project will entail. I can say that I am in good hands with the Alabama Chanin team, who has been has been walking me through the company’s production processes to better understand what alterations were made to comply with tricky US labor law requirements. Together, we will also sift through the existing Nest Standards for Homes and Small Workshops to highlight those sections that will need to be addressed, altered, or strengthened for US-based businesses to meet government regulations. This initial review will be followed by intensive reviews with Nest’s pro bono law firm in New York.

As a side benefit, I get to do all of this in the comfort of Alabama Chanin‘s beautiful space at Building 14. If you are ever near Florence, Alabama, do yourself a favor and visit this mecca to artisan craft and design. Come for the beautiful product, stay for the pimento grilled cheese!

Nest is currently seeking funding partners to help make this US Labor Law compliance project possible. For more information on Nest’s Standards, or to partner with us on the program, please contact Nest’s Chief Strategy and Partnerships Officer at [email protected]