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The Nest Revolving Maker Fund Supported by the Tory Burch Foundation Provides Financing to Makers Across the Country

Late last year, Nest and the Tory Burch Foundation joined forces to launch the Nest Revolving Maker Fund Supported by the Tory Burch Foundation. With the Fund’s first awards now in the hands of makers across the country, Nest and the Tory Burch Foundation are providing women and woman-identifying makers with capital grants to help them establish a financial history that can be used to prove their merit to future lenders.

The program, launched in October 2021, provides financing to women and woman-identifying maker entrepreneurs who participated in Nest’s Makers United programming in Birmingham, Austin and San Antonio, Detroit, or St. Louis. These capital grants are addressing their most critical business development needs.

Through the revolving nature of the fund, Nest and the Tory Burch Foundation are encouraging makers to pay their awards forward so that their creative peers may access this opportunity in the future. The awards are structured as “recoverable grants” meaning that recipients will not be penalized if they are unable to repay their award, but can use the award as a means to set up a record of repayment to share with lenders.

In a survey administered by Nest of roughly 800 maker entrepreneurs across the country, nearly 80% of respondents shared that access to capital is their primary obstacle to business growth and long-term viability. They shared that craft and creative businesses are often not considered “practical” business opportunities by lenders. As a result, many makers do not feel ready or prepared to secure traditional financing, like small business loans.

“For 15 years, Nest has been providing artisan and maker businesses with the capacity building and market access support they need to thrive,” shared Rebecca van Bergen, Nest’s founder and Executive Director. “With the support of the Tory Burch Foundation, we are now able to pilot how Nest can provide growth financing to maker businesses, thereby adding the crucial element of access to capital to our existing programming around mentorship and market access.”

In the pilot launch of the Nest Revolving Maker Fund Supported by the Tory Burch Foundation, Makers United participants in Birmingham, Austin and San Antonio, Detroit, and St. Louis were invited to apply for recoverable capital grants of up to $5,000. Beyond this capital, Nest and the Tory Burch Foundation are also supporting recipients in growing their businesses and financial acumen. To this end, recipients will receive expert guidance and personalized financial planning services to optimize the use of their financing and make them more competitive applicants for future loans and financial assistance.

At the end of 2021, Nest was able to share with 50 women- and woman-identifying maker entrepreneurs across the country that they were the inaugural recipients of the Fund’s grant awards.

“Receiving this financing award helps me to purchase a kiln, which helps me kick off my pottery business and studio at my new home,” said Margo Scott-Meisel of Rustic Pearl Pottery, a Detroit-based ceramics studio. “I have been a committed potter for over a decade, and have always wanted to have a personal studio space at my home… This is the most exciting tool to purchase after years of growth and savings because it is truly the fire behind my business, other than my own personal desires to create.”

“The financing will allow me to create a website, and use social media networks to achieve my marketing and branding goals; raise brand awareness, create a brand identity, positive brand association, and improve communication and interaction with key audiences,” wrote Naomi Wanjiku of Wanjiku Designs, a San Antonio-based a jewelry and accessories enterprise.

“To me, the funding received is one component of this opportunity,” said Lillis Taylor of Tré Lilli, a Birmingham-based garment and textile business. “I am also looking forward to networking opportunities and am very interested in the coaching and financial sustainability trainings that seem to be a part of the program. That kind of support is rarely free and it is so beneficial to entrepreneurs such as myself who are not trained in business.”

Nest and the Tory Burch Foundation are committed to learning from our artisan community to improve access to capital, financing and business guidance for future financing recipients.

The Nest Revolving Maker Fund Supported by the Tory Burch Foundation is the newest facet of our partnership with Tory Burch and the Tory Burch Foundation. Over the last year, Nest has supported Tory Burch’s artisan sourcing initiatives. Tory Burch’s brand commitment to women’s empowerment and sustainability led them to join Nest’s Craft Coalition, which supports brands’ responsible and creative engagement with the global handcraft community. In May 2021, Nest supported a collaboration between Tory Burch and Indego Africa, resulting in a steady income for 25 Bolga women, members of the Stella and Asibi weaving collectives in Africa, for three months and a one-of-a-kind basket tote bag.