The traditional notion of a “nest,” as a place where creatures give birth to and protect their young, has recently seen its natural connotations diminish due to the rise of a tech-driven Nest, the smart home accessories company with the tagline “Create a connected home.” Between these two disparate worlds, however, perches another Nest: a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting and connecting people.
Taking the analogy further, this Nest is the birthplace of its founder Rebecca van Bergen’s mission to “build the new handworker economy that connects craftspeople, brands and consumers in a circular and human-centric value chain that increases global workforce inclusivity, improves women’s wellbeing beyond factories and preserves important cultural traditions around the world.” As a part of the mission, the organization recently introduced the Nest Ethical Compliance Standards for Homes and Small Workshops at the UN in NYC. (As a longtime partner of Nest, having worked with them to find artisan partners in India and Guatemala, we were lucky enough to attend.) This central initiative, paired with host of complementary programs, works toward another of the organization’s fundamental goals: perpetuating the essential joy craftsmanship brings consumers and artisans alike.
Natural beauty. Sambhal, India.
Why are handworkers important for the future?
As our world becomes increasingly fast paced, mechanized and mass-produced, handworkers are more important than ever. Their commitment to creating beauty with the art of the human touch will become an increasingly important way of connecting us to a more soulful form of consumption.
Why is it important to preserve cultural traditions?
Cultural traditions are reflections of the people who comprise that culture. It is their collective histories and personal stories that bring so much soul to craftsmanship. When these elements disintegrate, the integrity of the craft diminishes, too.
What is the word you hear most in the Nest office?
Artisan treasure chest.
A song that embodies the Nest culture.
The Nest symbology is about helping artisan businesses gain the wings to fly.
Handcrafted by Nest Artisan partners.
How do you define success at Nest?
At Nest, we appreciate and acknowledge all the small successes along the way. Even it is just one artisan who emailed us to say our work made a difference, we count that as an indication that we are moving in the right direction. So while big lofty goals are great, we look for all the successes along the way that make those bigger goals attainable.
A quote to live by.
“Everyone needs beauty as well as bread.” – John Muir
An image of community.
Women, mothers, and grandmothers who are all basket weavers in Swaziland are pictured with a Nest Professional Fellow from New York.
A favorite Nest Instagram post.
Taken by Sara Otto, Nest's Director of Artisan Compliance and Programming, in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Why are you proud to work at Nest?
While jobs can put us in the rut of cyclical routine, Nest continually breaks us out of that cycle by presenting new daily challenges and by connecting us to the larger world on a daily basis. Almost every day, there is a new story from an artisan partner about how our work is making a difference, and that puts everything right into context. It’s very rewarding to feel connected to a larger whole.
What is something people don’t know about artisan work?
People often think of artisan work as very niche — just a small group of women in one corner of the world, for example. Artisans are part of a huge global workforce numbering in the hundreds of millions. Artisan work may be “small batch,” but the population as a whole is very mighty!
What is a statistic Nest would like to change?
The International Labor Organization estimates that there are 300 million homeworkers in the world, with 35 million in the garment industry alone. It is estimated that 20 to 60 percent of fashion production leaves the factory to be subcontracted to homes. These statistics are old and fuzzy and Nest wants to bring them into focus with fact-based clarity. So in that sense, we want to contribute to more reliable data on the handwork sector; we want to change these stats to make them accurate.
Share a Nest goal for 2018.
Nest is working on many big projects this year. In addition to looking forward to launching the Nest Seal in market (a point-of-sale symbol that confirms that a product has been ethically handcrafted), we are exploring new opportunities to integrate technology, like mobile surveys and blockchain, into our artisan assessments. We would love to receive the philanthropic funding to make this possible.
What country Nest will visit next?
Nest is constantly traveling the world. In the past three months alone, we visited Namibia, Ghana, the Philippines, India, Haiti and Indonesia — and also worked on some projects in the U.S. Our next stop is Brazil!