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Qurate Retail Group Employee Fellowship Program Supports Women-Led Artisan Businesses

Senior staff from Qurate Retail Group dedicate thousands of hours of pro bono consulting to artisan brands this summer

This summer, Nest deepened its shared commitment with Qurate Retail Group (home to QVC and HSN) to support US-based women entrepreneurs. For several years, Nest and Qurate have teamed up for International Women’s Day which, in 2019, was co-designed to include an employee volunteer program that paid tribute to the vision our Artisan Guild members have for gender equity through craft-based work. Senior members of the Qurate Retail team, who work across the portfolio of brands, volunteered their time as “fellows,” spending two intensive weeks working with four female-led social enterprises. One year later, Nest & Qurate Retail Group expected to increase the number of participating enterprises to six, but demand for the program was so great that the program nearly quadrupled in size.

Beginning in July, Nest placed 39 industry professionals from Qurate Retail Group with 15 top businesses from our Artisan Guild network. Collectively, these businesses employ over 4,000 artisans around the world—83% of whom are also women. These Fellows tackled issues ranging from logistics and inventory management to influencer marketing and digital content strategy to help enhance business viability and ultimately drive growth. This investment was particularly important on the heels of a global pandemic (see our post on Nest’s PPE Purchasing Initiative and the role Qurate Retail Group played there, as well). In a reality where many small businesses have suffered enormous financial and emotional blows due to the pandemic, this Fellowship program was a welcomed reprieve that created deep value for both the business and Fellow.

Ever Sisters, Ever Kin. This is the new tagline Qurate Retail Fellow Jade Franks created for Rover & Kin, a contemporary brand offering artisan-made apparel, jewelry, and accessories for the multifaceted woman. Jade’s brand messaging perfectly captured the ethos of Wen’s brand. But underneath this simple tagline is hours (an estimated 168!) of dedicated learning and support Jade and fellow Qurate Retail colleague Lena Pahl committed to understanding and advising the brand over a short, but intensive, two-week fellowship. Together the Fellows recommended revived brand messaging along with expert guidance on a Spring/Summer 2021 Collection complete with a mood board, pricing analysis, and wholesale pitch kit from the perspective of a seasoned buyer. Sample digital marketing campaigns and a content calendar rounded out the deliverables and left Rover & Kin poised for flight.

For Wen and for many of the other participating brands, the outside perspective was one of the most surprising value-adds of the entire experience—“when you’re a solopreneur, you often have tunnel vision, so a lot of what was talked about (social, advertisements, branding) was an absolute eye opener for me. I learned how someone from the outside approaches my brand” which is a strong first step toward building a viable artisan business.

Qurate Retail Group’s commitment to offering the talents and expertise of its teams to support the brands of women-led artisan businesses like Wen’s is extremely needed among our Artisan Guild members. In 2019 alone, the Nest Fellowship program provided female-founded artisan businesses with over a thousand hours of pro bono consultation hours for projects related to brand strategy, communications and marketing. In 2020, we are projecting this number to grow exponentially starting with an estimated 3,000+ from this collaboration alone.

The value is mutually felt by the Fellows who are able to give of their expertise and time to support women founders like Wen. Lena shared that “working in Buying myself, I have taken away so much from this experience. I think the way that I approach new brands in the future has changed. Being mindful of their struggles, understanding the emotions that go into their project and appreciating the courage and strength, that it takes to be an entrepreneur, will, I believe, allow me to build closer connections and better partnerships in the future.”

Jade summed up the experience perfectly, sharing that “we had the chance to take a deep dive into Rover & Kin and witness the passion that Wen exudes for her brand, which was inspiring. Rover & Kin is an amazing brand that’s rooted in sustainability, fair trade, and sisterhood and I am honored to have been a part of its journey.”

At Nest and on behalf of Qurate Retail Group, we both believe in the power of authentic stories of female entrepreneurs to drive the growth of their businesses. We are grateful for their continued support which to date has included over $90,000 for our Fellowship program as well more than $1.2 million for Nest’s global mission more holistically.