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Nest Expands Our Work with Refugees

Refugee artisans employed by Love Welcomes work on a new collection of Solidarity Cushions, which were designed to represent key moments in the refugee journey. Love Welcomes is a member of the 2021 Artisan Accelerator Refugee cohort.

Given the increasing need to support refugees globally, Nest is proud to support this rapidly growing population throughout our core programs. Nest welcomed the first cohort of artisan businesses owned by, led by, or employing a majority refugee workforce into the Artisan Accelerator program in 2021, and continues to partner with organizations that support refugee artisans looking to earn an income from their craft after resettlement.

Nest is honored to provide intensive business development support to organizations, like Love Welcomes, through this new Artisan Accelerator cohort. On her experience with this organization and the value of craft employment, Benita, a Love Welcomes refugee artisan, said, “Love Welcomes made me discover that I can learn new skills without having any experience and has woken up my creative skills! Mentally I am feeling better and not having a lot of flashbacks like before. Love Welcomes is my perfect therapy!”

Alongside Etsy, Nest supported the expansion of the company’s Uplift Makers program to include the new Afghan Refugees Collective, a group of more than 20 shops that feature traditional needlework and home textiles—all handmade by women resettling and rebuilding in the United States. Through the Collective and complementary support for Etsy and Nest, these women, from communities across the US, created their own independent shops.

For women like Fariba, this opportunity provides them with a way to earn an income while holding their heritage, traditions, and memories of home close. “I remember my mom’s house. She had a beautiful table with a runner,” she said. “Now a table runner is my favorite item to make. It takes a lot of time—I need six or seven hours—but I love it because it reminds me of my country, my mom, my heart.”

Nest has also formalized a partnership with MADE51, a global initiative launched by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), offering refugees the opportunity to utilize their artisanal skills to rebuild their livelihoods. Together, we will create a dedicated cohort of MADE51 social enterprise partners that can be incubated and supported in the next Artisan Accelerator class through dedicated fellowship support, curated market access, and facilitated peer-to-peer learning.

And, throughout the spring, Nest held a series of Stitched Together events—virtual stitching circles with Lviv-based master embroiderer Hanna Rohatynska—to raise support for humanitarian aid and cultural preservation organizations responding to the war in Ukraine.

Nest also partnered with Sciences Po, a French university, and Women Forward International, an international nonprofit, to map artisan refugee communities across the continent. We plan to use their findings to inform future programming among these populations.

Nest is committed to fostering an ecosystem of support for refugee artisans who have resettled in the United States and in communities around the world, providing them with access to a local support network, targeted training, product development resources, and market access opportunities through our programming.

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