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HISTORY & CRAFT TRADITION

Tucked along a wide bend in the Alabama River is a small town known as Gee’s Bend. Most residents in this village trace their lineage back to slaves and shareholders of the Pettway Plantation.

The Gee’s Bend Quilters have produced countless patchwork masterpieces, with the oldest examples dating from the 1920s. Enlivened by a visual imagination that extends the expressive boundaries of the quilt genre, these astounding creations constitute a crucial chapter in the history of American craft. 

QUILTERS TODAY

While The Gee’s Bend Quilters have earned global acclaim, this fame has not translated into economic advancement. The average annual income in Gee’s Bend remains at about $12,000. Some residents live without the basic amenities of mobile and internet access, limiting the quilters’ ability to expand the sale of their goods.

Nest celebrates the historical and cultural significance of Gee’s Bend, and is elevating the voices of the quilters and the heritage of this important craft community. 

Nest x Gee's Bend

NEST’S WORK

Alongside Souls Grown Deep, Nest has been working within Gee’s Bend to build community-led programs to leverage the local heritage quilting tradition as a means of vital income generation. 

Since 2019, The Gee’s Bend Quilters have collaborated with Nest on several projects including participation in Nest’s Makers United Marketplace and a collaboration with retailer American Giant which resulted in the creation of 18 custom quilts made using fabric remnants from American Giant’s apparel production. 

Through these market access opportunities, our partnership has generated over $92,000 in income for the quilters in the last year alone. 

Building upon these successes, Nest established a partnership with Etsy to ensure the long-term success of this community through digital commerce. Presenting an unparalleled opportunity for the quilters to secure steady employment by owning their own independent Etsy shops, this partnership will enable them to reach greater audiences and access new customers.

Despite challenges of the digital divide, rooted into the community’s isolated location, Nest has been working closely with the quilters to prepare them for the launch of their Etsy shops. This support included operational training, marketing support, sharing processes as the quilters set fair prices for their goods, product development, and overall community development work to ensure the quilters feel prepared for their online launch. 

  

 

Support The Gee's Bend Quilters

There is more work to be done. In addition to providing support as the community makes their debut into digital commerce, Nest will continue to facilitate new market linkages between The Quilters of Gee’s Bend and brand partners, engage in a Shared Prosperity study to understand the sales channels required to provide a long-term sustainable stream of income, and bridge the digital divide through increased digital access and literacy training. 

Click here to support Nest’s ongoing efforts to bring capacity development and sustained income to The Gee’s Bend Quilters community.

The quilter owned and run shops are featured on Etsy.com

The Gee’s Bend Quilters

At the Door Quilts

Kristin Pettway

Emma’s Lovely Treasures

Emma Mooney Pettway

K and K Quilted Treasure

Doris Pettway Hacketts

Kiara’s Quilt Boutique

Doris Pettway Mosely

Lunky’s Baby

Mary Margaret Pettway

Quilts by Caster

Caster Pettway

Quilts by Lue

Lue Ida McCloud

Sew Lolo Shop

Loretta Pettway Bennett

Sha’s Shop Gee’s Bend

Sharon Williams

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