Brand Sourcing Contracts Provide Critical Employment to Artisans in the Wake of Covid-19
A Jaipur Living weaver works at her loom to create a beautiful hand-knotted rug, like the one pictured to the right.
In the wake of Covid-19, providing our artisan partners with steady, reliable employment through new sourcing contracts is more important than ever before. While the entire world grappled with the short-term social and economic impacts of the Covid-19 outbreak, they were felt even more acutely in artisan communities that depend on brand orders for income. In the early weeks of the pandemic Nest surveyed our global network of artisan business partners to determine the impact of Covid-19 on their businesses. Of the 200 respondents, 80% reported that their production was halted and 68% reported that current or future orders had been cancelled. These cancelled orders totalled more than $7.2 million dollars in revenue to artisan businesses.
Amidst this critical global moment for home-based artisan enterprises, Nest has been working alongside our brand and retail partners to provide artisans with the home-based employment at scale that is so needed right now for craft-based businesses to sustain themselves and the artisans in their supply chain.
Jennifer Lo, Owner of Larone Crafts and artisan partner in the Philippines, shared the impact that Nest’s sourcing program has had on their home-based artisans during the pandemic. “Each item in Mark and Graham’s collection was woven by weavers in their homes during the global pandemic. In a time when it is difficult to go out to find work, weavers were thankful that there was work from Mark and Graham that allowed them to stay home, and that they were assured of a few months steady work. Through their sizable rattan production order, we were able to train and give production orders to a new weaving community that we had not worked with in the past, and continue our work with our existing weaving communities as well.”
Since the onset of Covid-19, Nest has brokered a number of successful sourcing contracts between artisans in the Nest Guild and our network of brand and retail partners. Just some of the results of these collaborations can be seen here. From handwoven accessories by Coquette’s Armoire at Mignonne Gavigan to a handwoven straw basket tote by Indego Africa at Tory Burch, Nest’s delivery of new market opportunities for our artisan partners has yielded over more than $450,000 in new revenue since the pandemic began over one year ago.
In addition to providing artisans with the employment and wages needed to sustain themselves and their families, Nest’s sourcing services also offer brands transparent linkages to the artisan community in a way that respects their craft heritage and educates brands on the optimal way to work with artisans.
Sharing about the experience of working with Starfish, and artisan partner in China, Catherine Holmberg, Director of Development & Production at Loeffler Randall, said, “It was evident from the beginning of our working relationship that the team was thorough in their daily email communication, and continually made thoughtful adjustments to our working processes together along the way to ensure expectations could be met. Deeds like that showed how invested they were in making the product a mutual success for both teams, and it’s that level of care and attention to the craft that led us to continue ongoing development for future seasons beyond the initial project.”
Through our new Nest In-Store page, Nest supporters can browse through a curated list of products that are the result of the responsible and creative engagement of our brand partners with members of the Nest Artisan Guild. All products are available to shop in-store or online through our brand partners. The page will be updated regularly to reflect an array of artisan-made products that come out of the brand collaborations facilitated by Nest. Products that are made in supply chains that have earned the Nest Seal of Ethical Handcraft are marked accordingly. Thus far, 13 artisan supply chains have been awarded this mark of excellence.
As consumer demand for ethically-sourced and unique products continues to increase, Nest is committed to supporting the responsible and creative engagement of the retail sector with the global handcraft community. When artisans are ethically and impactfully woven into global supply chains, the brands that are able to promote their truly singular goods at scale win – alongside the handworkers their businesses support.