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Announcing the Artisan Accelerator 2020 Class

Following a rigorous application process, each year Nest selects 10 artisan businesses to participate in  the Artisan Accelerator — one of Nest’s flagship programs which supports high-potential artisan businesses to become vital players in the international marketplace for fashion & home design. Key program benefits include onsite strategic business consulting, market access, and the opportunity to receive the Nest Seal of Ethical Handcraft. 

Since its launch in 2018, Nest’s Artisan Accelerator program has emerged as a preeminent incubator of artisan businesses, helping highly motivated and like-minded enterprises from around the world accelerate both business growth and social impact. In its inaugural year, Nest’s Artisan Accelerator created 76 net new jobs and helped participating businesses generate over $600,000 in net new revenue. 

With ongoing support from the Winn Family Foundation alongside contributions from the Swarovski Foundation, JMCMRJ Family Foundation, and Bruce C. Abrams Foundation, we are honored to announce the 2020 Artisan Accelerator class!Selected from a pool of over 69 applicants, this year’s class has a footprint across 8 countries, practices more than a dozen handcraft techniques, and employs over 4,500 handworkers in total. Meet the participating businesses: 

Photo by Conserve India

Conserve HRP, India

Born of a desire to reduce India’s waste, improve energy efficiency, and help some of Delhi’s poorest out of the city’s slums, Conserve India turns plastic bags into high fashion using a proprietary and innovative technology that compresses plastic bags into vegan leather called Handmade Recycled Plastic (HRP).

Photo by D.A.R Proyectos

D.A.R. Proyectos, Peru

“Working in rural Peru does not often give us access to global industry leaders who can share insight into best practices and artisan production-specific challenges. The Artisan Accelerator provides us with an opportunity to receive this kind of strategic support. We feel that participation in the Artisan Accelerator will help us ensure that we can achieve our business objectives in harmony with our social innovation programming. To date, we have successfully enabled a large group of artisans, which means that our social innovation strategies are creating a sustainable artisanal venture. However, in order to maintain the successes that we’ve achieved, we need to strengthen our processes and strategies internally. We hope to scale our business over the next 3 years to ensure that our long term goals for the artisan communities we work with are achievable, and we are looking forward to the business strategy that we will receive from our participation in the Artisan Accelerator program.” Mauricio Navarro Aldave and Jenny Boucher, Co-founders

Photo by Indego Africa

Indego Africa, Rwanda & Ghana

“We look forward to developing a deeper expertise in ethical supply chain operations and codifying our commitment to environmental sustainability over the course of the next year through the Artisan Accelerator program. With Nest’s support, we hope to increase our sales and provide more consistent income to the artisan groups we currently work with. Our goal is to improve the sustainability of our global supply chain and we know that the support we receive through the Artisan Accelerator program will play an integral role in helping us achieve our mission.” Matt Mitro and Karen Yelick, Co-founders

Photo by Karu

Karu, South Africa & India

Our goal for participation in the Artisan Accelerator program is to create a 3-year business plan that is sustainable long-term both for our company and for the communities in which we produce and operate. We would like to develop a system for measuring our production and sales as well as our environmental and social impact. We also look forward to going through the Ethical Handcraft program with one of our key stitching and handwork facilities in Jaipur, India. Over time, we hope to be able to adapt and apply what we learn to the other workshops and homework suppliers in our network.” Fiona Mackay and Alexis Barrell, Founders

Photo by La Casa Cotzal

La Casa Cotzal, Guatemala

“Our traditional sales channels have been reduced considerably by the consolidation of web entities in the past ten years and we are now seeking creative opportunities for re-growing our sales. Nest has been a pioneer in understanding the needs of multiple players in the world of crafts production and marketing– from the workshop to the sales floor — and we are ecstatic about this opportunity to learn from Nest and develop a multifaceted sales strategy and market access plan through the Artisan Accelerator program.” Ian Gonzalez, Founder

Photo by Larone Crafts

Larone Crafts, The Philippines

“Through the Artisan Accelerator we are hoping to increase our impact within local communities on the national and regional level by increasing sales and thus employment opportunities.” Veronica Lo, Founder

Photo by Loom to Luxury

Loom to Luxury, India

Loom to Luxury is dedicated to rescuing and reviving Varanasi’s declining handloom tradition, and women’s empowerment and employment through handcraft. Following the opening of the Loom to Luxury Varanasi Weaving Facility in November 2019, Loom to Luxury will be taking part in the 2020 Artisan Accelerator and collaborating with industry marketing experts to create a sustainable growth and sales strategy. 

Photo by Lula Mena

Lula Mena, El Salvador

Lula Mena founded her company, Lula Mena®, after traveling throughout her country, El Salvador, and seeing firsthand how limited opportunities are for women who live in rural areas of El Salvador. In order to earn a living and support their families, she saw many women leave their homes and migrate to the nearest city or another country. Seeing how difficult it is for women to find sustainable work opportunities that allow them to improve their quality of life and, at the same time, take care of their children, Lula Mena felt that while she may not be able to completely change this reality, she could use her knowledge, experience and talent to change it at least in a small measure. Lula Mena® seeks to generate hope and transform lives by joining art, design and culture with the reality of vulnerable women in high areas of risk in El Salvador, creating opportunities by making unique, handmade, eco-friendly and innovative products, under norms of fair trade.

Photo by SukkhaCitta

SukkhaCitta, Indonesia

SukkhaCitta is committed to creating timeliess clothing using traditional craft techniques, environmentally and socially sustainable and ethical production practices, and reinvesting back into communities with initiatives such as paying living wages and developing Indonesia’s first craft schools which will empower the next generation of Indonesia’s craftswomen to thrive.

Photo by Threads of Peru

Threads of Peru, Peru

“After months of searching for the “right” business mentor, the call for applicants for the Artisan Accelerator program landed in our inbox as if heaven-sent. The timing couldn’t have been better. We were looking for the guidance of an experienced mentor to lead us toward a new phase of greater reach and impact, and we believe the Artisan Accelerator program is the perfect program to provide us with the mentorship we need.” Sarah Confer, Founder

Learn more about the Nest Artisan Accelerator here