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Supply Chain
EILEEN FISHER, Patagonia, Target Join Committee to Advance Sustainable Artisan Supply Chains

Nest, a New York-based nonprofit focused on creating a better life for workers in the cottage industry, has announced the formation of the Nest Artisan Advancement Steering Committee, a coalition of heavy hitters in fashion and home design committed to addressing sustainability issues impacting the global community of homeworkers and artisans.

Committee members include brand leaders in sustainability and conscious business practices: EILEEN FISHER, Jaipur Living, Maiyet, Patagonia, PVH (parent company of Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein), Target and West Elm. Recognizing artisan production as a growing $34 billion industry that employs tens of millions of people worldwide, the Committee aims to improve conditions for the underserved community of artisans and homeworkers around the world.

Primary to the Committee’s work has been the creation and adoption of a universal set of standards for homeworker and artisan compliance, designed to protect these laborers as consumer demand for handcrafted, bespoke and rare products grows. The Nest Ethical Compliance Standards for Homes & Small Workshops raise the bar by outlining reliable and industry-approved ways to both perform artisan audits and to implement impactful remediation and business development.

“Nest could be a game-changer for brands, because right now there isn’t any way to accurately evaluate and monitor artisan supply chains for ethics and sustainability,” says Amy Hall, Director of Social Consciousness at Eileen Fisher, Inc. “Their methodology could enable brands like us to support artisan supply chains.”

Nest is committed to the social and economic advancement of global artisans and homeworkers through supply chain transparency, sustainable business development, and widespread industry advocacy. By providing artisans short-term, targeted support while tackling untouched global sector challenges, Nest is helping to create economic opportunities that alleviate poverty and empower women, while preserving cultural traditions. Entering its eleventh year of economic and social development for artisan businesses, Nest saw a pressing need for the Committee’s formation.

“While there are verified ways for ensuring ethical compliance in factories, as much as 60 percent of garment production, and portions of home design production, are taking place in homes and small workshops,” says Nest founder and Executive Director Rebecca van Bergen. “It’s time to turn our attention to these workers, too.”

Jim Brett, president of committee member West Elm, says: “As much as 20 percent of our assortment each season is handcrafted and made by artisans around the globe. Our work with Nest and our esteemed brand partners will create sustainability standards to ensure craftspeople are working in safe environments and being paid fair wages.”

Committee members are working alongside Nest to pilot the non-profit’s proprietary assessment and programming tools designed specifically for the homework sector. These tools assist members in validating decentralized supply chains by evaluating ethical compliance, and in improving the sustainability of relationships with artisans and homeworkers by tackling key business hurdles. As part of an open-source policy for all members, Committee members are also able to expand artisan sourcing opportunities. The Committee is also tackling solutions to global sector challenges such as responsible wastewater management during textile dyeing.

The Committee is aiming for an industry-wide launch of the Standards in late 2017, and is currently considering membership for other pioneering brands.