Nest, a New York-based nonprofit dedicated to increasing global workforce inclusivity, is bringing the Makers United Project to Detroit. Makers United is a multi-stakeholder initiative that connects and strengthens makers across the country, including artisans, craft makers, and more.
Tracy Reese, a designer who grew up in Detroit, will coordinate the effort along with Gusto Partners, a Detroit consulting form. The efforts are supported by the Same Sky Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies.
“Detroit has so much to offer the world, and I think when people think of Detroit, the focus is not always on the rich cultural life of this city,” says Reese, whose new sustainable brand, Hope for Flowers, is based in Detroit. She serves on the Nest board of trustees. “Through Nest’s Makers United program, I’m hoping that we’re able to create concrete opportunities that may not have already existed for the amazing artisans in my hometown. I also want to open their eyes to opportunities that were already here that, for some reason, they do not have access to.”
The Nest Makers United Program’s focus in Detroit is to analyze the city’s landscape to provide insight into local maker communities, highlighting the challenges entrepreneurs face in small business development within distinct markets. The learnings will then be translated into workshops, marketplace activations, and local partnerships.
“This is a program where, at its heart, we focus on ensuring that makers that are disproportionately more likely to have barriers to needed services and business growth support — from financing to market access — get the education, exposure, and support they need,” says Rebecca van Bergen, founder of Nest. “As we expand into Detroit, ensuring that black maker and artisan voices are amplified with regard to the structural impediments they face as well as the opportunities that could expand their business’ potential will be a paramount tenant to the Makers United Project.”
The launch of the Detroit program comes as the world is seeing a shift in businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic and as protests stemming from the May 25 death of George Floyd in police custody bring to light systemic racism and inequity in American culture.
The program has also launched in Birmingham, Ala. and Austin and San Antonio, Texas. More information about Nest Makers United is available here.
Nest was founded in 2006 and is a nonprofit that works to build a handworker economy to increase global workforce inclusivity, improve women’s well-being, and preserve cultural traditions around the world.