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Makers United: Building a More Inclusive Makers Movement

Makers United is building a more vibrant and inclusive makers movement across the United States by providing maker entrepreneurs who often face barriers to accessing the support they need with the resources and market access opportunities they need to thrive.

With a focus on elevating BIPOC makers and delivering innovative market access solutions, Makers United ensures that the growing American makers movement is generating opportunity for all makers regardless of gender, race, economic means or ability.

Photo Credit: Tosha Gaines Photography

Meeting Makers Where They Are

Nest is committed to both reaching and discovering new makers in cities and locales across the country in order to co-create tailored programming that meets the needs of specific communities. Our community-driven process invests in local leadership who map both of the maker population as well as the business resources and market access opportunities available to them. Upon gaining a comprehensive understanding of maker communities’ unique opportunities and challenges, our local leaders  engage a range of local stakeholders—from government officials to local retailers to makers themselves—to deliver robust and targeted solutions grounded in maker voice. 

Since its launch in Birmingham in 2019, Makers United has expanded into 6 other cities/territories, including Austin, San Antonio, Detroit, St. Louis, Puerto Rico and New York City’s Garment District as well as nationally with 815 makers in 35 states. 

Photo Credit: Kristen Blush Photography | Tom’s Sons International Pleating

Supporting Indigenous American Makers

With the guidance of Native advisors and consultants, Nest is launching a Makers United cohort to support Indigenous American makers. Our first step is to gain a comprehensive understanding of the resources currently available to Native artists . With this knowledge, Nest will articulate ways to increase access to these tools and identify the resource gaps that our programming can address, ​​supporting the expansion and growth of existing Native-led programs.

Artist: Corey Stein (Tlingit), b. 1963-
Title: Wrangell Petroglyph (2015)
Medium: Seed beads handsewn on felt

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Bridging the Digital Divide

Through our work with makers and craft communities across the country, Nest has worked with local artisans that are preserving integral chapters of American craft yet lack access to digital direct-to-consumer platforms, as well as the technical know-how to leverage these powerful sales channels. With support from Bloomberg Philanthropies and Souls Grown Deep, Nest has partnered with Etsy to support two such celebrated communities—the Gee’s Bend Quilters of Alabama and the Gullah basket weavers of South Carolina’s Lowcountry—as they make their foray into online commerce fueling economic independence and community development.

Photo Credit: 1212 Design

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Fostering Inclusive Creativity Drives Economic Growth

Nest’s work with maker entrepreneurs across the country is driven by a belief that fostering inclusive and diverse creative communities serves as a key driver of economic growth. Opening a maker business has lower barriers and costs to entry than other start-up industries and when done successfully can yield dividends for both the maker entrepreneur and their community. Additionally, home-based businesses and creative side hustles are playing an increasingly critical role in allowing individuals to grow their financial resilience while providing for themselves and their families.

Nest pairs Makers United business owners with mentorship opportunities through our employee engagement programs and market access opportunities with our brand partners. Makers United business owners have participated in employee engagement programs to further refine their craft with brands such as Hermès. Additionally, Makers United participants have been featured in dedicated marketing promotions and sales opportunities with Amazon Handmade, West Elm and Madewell.

Photo Courtesy of Scarlet Crane Creations 


Makers United Cities

Nest is grateful to the individual, corporate, and philanthropic supporters who have made our local Makers United reports, capacity building workshops, and market access opportunities possible. Our reports outlining the challenges and opportunities for maker businesses in the cities we’ve reached are available for download on our Research and Advocacy page.


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The Nest Revolving Maker Fund Supported by the Tory Burch Foundation exists to help woman-owned maker businesses in the US grow and achieve financial sustainability by providing them with capital to address their critical business development needs.

Woman-owned maker businesses that participated in Nest’s Makers United programming in Birmingham, Austin/San Antonio, Detroit, or St. Louis, are eligible to apply for funding.

The 2021 Application is now closed.

Photo Credit: Tosha Gaines Photography


Local and National Funding Partners

Bravo Family Foundation
Bruce C. Abrams Foundation
Garment District Alliance
Winn Family Foundation
Josh Mailman
Kathryn and Raymond Harbert
Nancy Abbey
Nicole & Andrew Luck
Rung for Women
Soucie Horner, Ltd.
Soul Grown Deep Foundation
West Elm