Nest is a nonprofit organization that empowers female artists and artisans around the world. Using a unique combination of interest-free microfinance loans, mentoring from established designers, as well as a market in which to sell their crafts, Nest connects women through art, craft and opportunity and helps its loan recipients create successful small businesses.
Nest's approach is to assist women through “microbartering” by providing women, or cooperatives of women, with loans that allow them to purchase the supplies, training, bazaar space or raw materials needed to make their crafts. However, rather than requiring repayment in cash, Nest encourages women to repay their loans in product, which Nest then markets and sells in the United States. Many beautifully crafted pieces by these loan recipients are available in their online store (see "Shop Loan Recipients") and at selected retail outlets. One of my favorite picks is this Green Dot Bowl (US$35), which combines simple, modern design to an otherwise traditional piece of pottery, hand-made in Mexico by loan recipient Herlinda Morales.
Nest also partner with domestic designers, who offer exclusive pieces sold on their online store (see "Collections"), with the proceeds going to fund additional artisans. These designers also mentor Nest's loan recipients, giving them valuable business, marketing and design advice. In this way, Nest has created a community of artists helping artists, and women helping women, the world over.
One of my favorite picks from Nest's domestic designer Collection are Wabisabi Green's EcoArt Pillows - Rosette (US$68, top) and Lotus Blossom (US$68, right). These bold, modern graphic pillows (18" square) are made soft 100% organic cotton cover, designed, handprinted and fabricated in the USA with environmentally safe water-based inks and hypoallergenic insert made of plastic bottles rescued from landfills. Could you possibly fill any more goodness into these pillows?
You could most certainly feather your nest with these beautifully designed products and support women artisans around the world!