Along a wide bend in the Alabama River, quilters in a small town known as Gee’s Bend have been producing patchworked masterpieces that constitute a crucial chapter in the history of American craft for generations. While the Gee’s Bend Quilters have earned global acclaim—with their works exhibited at institutions like the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Metropolitan Museum of Art—their fame has not translated into economic advancement. The average annual income in the community is below the poverty line and some residents live without mobile and internet access, limiting their ability to expand the sale of their goods.
Alongside Etsy, and other partners like Souls Grown Deep, Nest has been working within Gee’s Bend to build community-led programs that unite their heritage quilting tradition with brand and retail partnerships established to expand their opportunities for income generation.
In February 2021, Nest and Etsy announced that 9 quilters launched independently-owned shops on the platform, marking the first time their quilts were widely available for customers to purchase online. This effort gained the attention of major news outlets including the Today Show and Good Morning America, and many of the quilters’ shops sold out overnight. Since then, more quilters have come online with support from Nest, Etsy, and their peers.