Nest & Rebecca van Bergen


What if we could build a new handwork economy? What if we could refocus our attention on the hands and souls behind every object, piece of clothing or food we consume every day? Reconnect with what constitutes our society and our economy, our life. Understand it better in order to safeguard human relationships and grow together. Offer equal opportunities of success to everyone, for a happier world.

Luckily, Rebecca van Bergen is a few steps ahead of us. This brilliant young lady is the Founder and Executive Director of Nest, a nonprofit for hand-worker economy to advance global workforce inclusivity, women’s wellbeing beyond factories, and cultural preservation.

Back in 2006, she graduated with her Masters Degree in Social Work from Washington University which happened to be the same year that Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in micro-finance.

Having grown up with a great-grandmother and grandmother who were quilters and sewers, Rebecca was drawn to craftsmanship as a means of self-expression and opportunity. Following her passion to turn craft, she quickly realized that the second largest employer of women globally was handcraft. Rebecca founded Nest at age 24, to correct the gender and income imbalance in our world.

Van Bergen generations

Van Bergen generations

What is Nest?

More than 11 years later, with no background in the fashion and home design industries, Rebecca leads an organization that is partnering with brand leaders such as West Elm, Target, Patagonia, PVH, and Eileen Fisher to improve transparency, social wellbeing, and economic opportunity for hand-workers who include both artisans and less skilled manual laborers.

In December of 2017 at the United Nations, Rebecca led Nest to launch the Nest Standards for Homes and Small Workshops, delivering the industry a standardized tool for improving rights and wellbeing for the world’s estimated 300 million home based workers (ILO).

Nest is a nonprofit building a new hand-worker economy to increase global workforce inclusivity, improve women’s wellbeing beyond factories, and preserve important cultural traditions around the world.

The program is accompanied by a Nest Seal, designed to let consumers know that the products they shop have been ethically handcrafted. As of January, 2018, Nest's work reached a population of 100,000 hand-workers across over 60 countries, driving both social and economic impact.

In partnership with public and private sector collaborators, including artisan business leaders themselves, Nest’s programs are bringing radical transparency, data-driven development, and fair market access to a fragmented industry, unlocking handwork’s unmet potential to improve our world.

In 2017, Rebecca joined the distinguished class of World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders and was selected by Ashoka as an honored Ashoka Fellow. In 2016, Nest received Ashoka and C&A Foundation’s Fabric of Change Award. She is a Levi Strauss & Co. Collaboratory Fellow, Draper Richards Kaplan Fellow, Cordes Fellow, and GLG Social Impact Fellow. In 2015 and 2016, Rebecca received complimentary Clinton Global Initiative membership.

She has been spotlighted by the New York mayor’s office as an NYC Catalyst and has also been honored as a PBS Change-maker, a CNN Young Person Who Rocks, and one of the White Houses’s Top 100 Entrepreneurial Enterprises led by a young person.

Nest programs

Whether working hand-in-hand with artisans via onsite mentorship projects across the globe, or leveraging technology like Skype and WhatsApp to work with artisans straight from the company conference room, Nest Professional Fellows are bringing targeted, high-impact, and scalable consulting to an ever-growing hand-worker population.

The Nest Guild is a global network of more than 500 artisan small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) based in over 90 countries around the world, impacting an estimated 180,000 individuals.

While employing artisans practicing diverse crafts from shibori dying to hand reed weaving, Guild members are unified in their common goals for business growth and social improvement in their local communities.

Bridging gaps in language, distance, and opposite time zones, Nest supports the Guild with the Nest Connect program, which delivers a custom suite of complimentary tools, resources, and opportunities.

Nest matches craftspeople and designers directly, building human connection while paving the way for business diversification and growth. Through sourcing partnerships built directly between brands and artisans around the world, Nest is ushering a new wave of craftsmanship to runways and store floors around the world, using designer-artisan collaboration as a medium to reshape handmade as a hallmark of value.

Rebecca van Bergen built strong foundations for a better and stronger growth of the craftsmanship and cultural legacy found worldwide. It’s up to us to continue and support this core line of work by donating time or making sustainable buying decisions in order to make our own mark on the new hand-worker economy we are building for tomorrow.

Learn, get involved and support :

Nest is making female hand-workers visible while promoting their fair access to social and economic opportunity.