Nest is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) supporting the responsible growth and creative engagement of the artisan & maker economy to build a world of greater gender equity and economic inclusion.
Through programs that support the wellbeing of artisans both in the United States and globally, Nest is bringing radical transparency and opportunity to the informal handworker economy.
The Economic and Human Impact of Handcraft
For centuries, craftspeople and handworkers around the world have played critical roles in reviving and sustaining local creative economies, often working from informal settings like homes and small workshops. Their work ranges from skilled craftsmanship to simple handwork tasks like sewing soles on shoes or stringing beads onto apparel.
The scale of these informal workers is larger than many realize—the ILO estimates that upwards of 300 million people work from home, engaged primarily in handwork. Predominantly women, these workers are often unrecognized and the implementation of their social protections is the exception rather than the norm.
This is in spite of the fact that handworkers contribute over $526BN in value to our global GDP and that when women work, they invest more than 90% of their earnings back into their families.
Unlocking Handcraft’s Potential to Improve Our World
Despite the scale and potential for impact, craft remains a largely invisible sector. In a survey of 130 brands, over half shared that they don’t have a clear understanding of where their products are made. And of 50 institutional funders, only .02% had invested in the hand and homework sector.
Nest believes that when artisan businesses, brands and philanthropists come together, we can unlock the potential of the handworker economy to grow with economic dignity—enabling millions of individuals and their surrounding communities to thrive.
Nurturing a Global Network of Creative Entrepreneurs
Nest supports the growth and development of 1,500+ artisan and maker businesses across 120 countries through the delivery of open access tools and educational programs, pro-bono consultancies from industry experts and targeted market linkages with our vast network of brand partners.
The Nest Guild is the only network for artisan businesses providing a range of resources that are entirely free of charge—from learning modules to targeted mentorship from experts. This is a network of creative entrepreneurs—business leaders who leverage their artistic spirit to improve their communities and challenge social norms.
How We Advance the Artisan and Maker Economy
Businesses in the Guild can apply to Artisan Accelerator—an intensive 360 program that provides businesses with the targeted support they need to grow. And through our Ethical Handcraft program, we’re directly reaching tens of thousands of artisans, advancing supply chain transparency and worker well-being for handworkers outside the four-walled factory.
In 2016, Nest launched its first US program—Makers United—with the aim of addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion within the growing makers movement by elevating makers from under-resourced communities. Makers United has grown to 6 regions and is reaching 538 creative entrepreneurs to build a more vibrant and economically-thriving makers movement.
The Nest Seal
In 2017, Nest introduced its Standards of Ethical Handcraft for Homes and Small Workshops at the United Nations, making them the first widely adopted metrics for determining accountability and transparency in informal supply chains. To recognize participating businesses’ commitment to ethical production and progress towards advancing worker wellbeing throughout their entire supply chains, Nest developed the consumer-facing Nest Seal of Ethical Handcraft. To date, the Nest Seal can be found in over 400 retail locations and on over 2,000 consumer products.
This program supports a range of home-based and informal supply chains—from artisans to those sorting ocean-bound plastics—and has improved the wellbeing of over 45,000 workers in 20+ countries to date.
The Inclusive Work Initiative
In the wake of Covid-19, the future of work will include small workshops and homework in ways we once never thought possible. Amidst this moment, Nest is scaling our work to ensure that all workers are protected and empowered through widespread recognition of their essential roles in the global economy.
Fueled by a belief in the opportunity that inclusive work has to advance businesses led by and employing women and BIPOC community members, Nest is leading a movement to champion handworkers around the globe. The confluence of advancing technology and the rise of homeworking present us with a unique opportunity to enable often overlooked creative entrepreneurs—including those establishing their “side hustle”—to achieve economic resilience for themselves, their families, and their communities.
As we enter our 15th year, Nest’s Inclusive Work Initiative will serve as the launchpad for a public campaign to bring unprecedented visibility and investment into the informal economy globally.