Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Nest Builders

A nonprofit enriches artisans around the world



Social-justice activists Rebecca and Chris van Bergen’s enthusiasm is infectious. Whether they are anticipating the Memorial Day opening of the local neighborhood swimming pool or the completion of a high-concept factory in India, the couple has a straightforward optimism that was celebrated onstage at the Clinton Global Initiative and has earned them national media coverage and support from foundations like Bloomberg Philanthropies.

The couple runs Nest (buildanest.org), a nonprofit that Rebecca founded just after getting her master’s in social work. Nest’s mission is to create partnerships between artisans and luxury brands to promote peace and alleviate poverty. “We believe in employment as a means of social change,” explains Rebecca. “Business can transform lives at the economic level but at the personal and community levels as well. We aim to treat every artisan as not just an individual but as a family provider and community leader.”

By putting luxury brands, including Maiyet, Reef, and Trina Turk, together with artisans in India, Africa, and South America, Nest helps to preserve crafts that have been handed down from generation to generation and can be threatened by ever-changing economic pressures. The nonprofit also helps foster independence by working with local people to create on-the-ground support that funds initiatives and environmentally sustainable practices.

One of the artisans Nest helped was a weaver in Guatemala, whose work decorates Reef sandals. In a video of the project, the weaver says, “I’m very surprised because we never thought it would be an interesting product for the world.” On seeing the finished sandals destined for the shelves of Barneys, Bloomingdales, and the Wilton Sport Shop, he says, “It’s like we’re looking at something we haven’t seen before.” Reef helped weavers understand what would sell to an international audience and maintain the consistent quality demanded by luxury consumers.

Rebecca imagines a future where people are willing to pay more for quality clothing and home goods that are ethically produced by artisans just as people are willing to pay more for organic, locally produced food. To that end, Nest developed an Ethical Source Code and encourages its corporate partners and artisans to adopt that code in their work so that consumers can be confident they are purchasing goods made to the highest quality and ethical standards.

Nest’s flagship project in Varnasi, India, aims to restore the 500-year-old weaving tradition threatened by inexpensive copies from the Far East. Working with luxury brand Maiyet and world-renowned British architect David Adjaye, Nest is helping Indian weavers build a state-of-the-art weaving center, factory, and health facility. The factory is carbon negative, relying on solar power and other green initiatives.

The Van Bergens see Nest’s approach as a way to empower women and spread religious tolerance. Nest’s other 2014 projects are located in Kenya, Swaziland (South Africa), Bali, and Mexico.

Lauren Hurst, marketing director for Maiyet and Nest board member, says the Van Bergens are “lovely, lovely people, who have a great understanding of how to communicate with different communities with patience and respect.” She saw Rebecca transform Nest from a “tiny organization to one that has a lot of impact. They’ve planted the seeds for ethically produced luxury goods and established roots in various countries.”

The Van Bergens, in search of green space, good schools, and a comfortable home for their one-year old daughter, Ella, and themselves, resettled their young family from an apartment in Brooklyn to a house in West Mountain Estates this past fall. “We didn’t grow up in New York, so we wanted a more natural environment for Ella,” says Rebecca. “Ridgefield is special. Some Westchester towns felt small but sometimes too small with just a single store or restaurant. Ridgefield has a lovely balance of lots of amazing restaurants and culture but no chains.”

Chris, who is a classical trumpet player, cites the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra and Playhouse as two big draws for him. As for his commute to Nest’s office in New York, he says, “I prefer the hour train ride where I can get a lot done over the 40-minute commute on the subway. When we come home from work or from the weeks we spend out of the country, it’s like an oasis, very relaxing.”

Their 1982 contemporary home is flooded with natural sunlight and gracefully furnished with modern furniture and paintings from the artisans they support through Nest.

Always on the move, the van Bergens are beginning to look for projects closer to home. This fall they expect to work with Colorado ranch hands to help them transform their leather skills once used to make saddles and bridles into making luxury wallets and bags.

Add your comment:

Connect With Us

            

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Cause and Effect

Veterans get peace of mind with equine therapy

Fast Lane of Hope

Two filmmakers help A Better Chance––an organization dedicated to helping children in the USA

Comfort Zone

Regional Hospice, an incomparable haven for life’s last journey

Kids These Days––2015

Four local teens use their time and talent to give back

Medical Mojo

Cutting Edge Advancements At Area Hospitals

Profiles

Your Guides to Leading Local Professionals

Edit ModuleShow Tags Edit ModuleShow Tags

Edit ModuleShow Tags

November 2018

Meet us under the Dome and catch all the excitement! Come out for the 16th Annual Festival of Trees to benefit Ann’s Place at the Danbury Sports Dome for a weekend filled with live events...

Cost: Ages 3 to 64, $10; Seniors, $5; kids under 3, free.

Where:
Danbury Sports Dome
25 Shelter Rock Ln
Danbury, CT  06810
View map »


Sponsor: Ann's Place
Telephone: 203-790-6568
Contact Name: Michelle Frosch
Website »

More information

Acclaimed soprano Justine Aronson (seen in photo with Alma Mahler) and Music from Copland House present rare performances of Schoenberg's Ein Stelldichein,...

Cost: $25, $10 (Students)

Where:
Copland House at Merestead
455 Byram Lake Road
Mount Kisco, NY  10549
View map »


Sponsor: Copland House
Telephone: 914-788-4659
Website »

More information

Founders Hall's First-Ever Gingerbread House Decorating Contest! At this year’s bi-annual Wreath Festival, Founders Hall (https://founders-hall.org/) is introducing a fun new contest...

Cost: Entry Fee: $10 / Event is FREE

Where:
Founders Hall of Ridgefield
193 Danbury Road
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Founders Hall
Telephone: 860-799-5207
Contact Name: Michelle McQueen
Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists' 14th Annual Festive Home...All That Glitters! opens Friday evening, November 16th with a preview party from 6-8pm.  For an entry fee of $20, attendees will...

Cost: $20 Preview Night Party/Free Days

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Guild of Artists
Telephone: 203.438.8863
Contact Name: Mary Pat Devine
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ridgefield Town Hall, Lower Conference Room
400 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Commission on Aging Town Committee
Contact Name: Debra Franceschini-Gatje

More information

Founders Hall's First-Ever Gingerbread House Decorating Contest! At this year’s bi-annual Wreath Festival, Founders Hall (https://founders-hall.org/) is introducing a fun new contest...

Cost: Entry Fee: $10 / Event is FREE

Where:
Founders Hall of Ridgefield
193 Danbury Road
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Founders Hall
Telephone: 860-799-5207
Contact Name: Michelle McQueen
Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists' 14th Annual Festive Home...All That Glitters! opens Friday evening, November 16th with a preview party from 6-8pm.  For an entry fee of $20, attendees will...

Cost: $20 Preview Night Party/Free Days

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Guild of Artists
Telephone: 203.438.8863
Contact Name: Mary Pat Devine
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Ridgefield Guild of Artists' 14th Annual Festive Home...All That Glitters! opens Friday evening, November 16th with a preview party from 6-8pm.  For an entry fee of $20, attendees will...

Cost: $20 Preview Night Party/Free Days

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Guild of Artists
Telephone: 203.438.8863
Contact Name: Mary Pat Devine
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Facilitated by Nina Bertolino This program will meet every other Wednesday from 10:30 - 12:30 on the following dates: September 12th & 26th, October 10th & 24th, November 7th & 21st, December 5th...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ruth Keeler Memorial Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists' 14th Annual Festive Home...All That Glitters! opens Friday evening, November 16th with a preview party from 6-8pm.  For an entry fee of $20, attendees will...

Cost: $20 Preview Night Party/Free Days

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Guild of Artists
Telephone: 203.438.8863
Contact Name: Mary Pat Devine
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Ridgefield Guild of Artists' 14th Annual Festive Home...All That Glitters! opens Friday evening, November 16th with a preview party from 6-8pm.  For an entry fee of $20, attendees will...

Cost: $20 Preview Night Party/Free Days

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Guild of Artists
Telephone: 203.438.8863
Contact Name: Mary Pat Devine
Website »

More information

EVERY THURSDAY | 7:30 PM - 10:00 pm Music | Spoken Word | Comedy | More Hosted by Don Lowe Hunt Hill Farm is excited to announce OpenMic night every Thursday night.  Please stop by to...

Cost: donation

Where:
Hunt Hill Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT  06776
View map »


Sponsor: Hunt Hill Farm
Telephone: 860.355.0300
Contact Name: John C. Maxwell III
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Draw inspiration from your favorite emoticons in this workshop inspired by emojis! Design symbols that convey emotion, represent an object or favorite food, or faces that make you giggle! All ages

Cost: Free for members or with Museum admission

Where:
The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum
258 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Friday mornings from 10:30 to 12:30. Free, no registration. Open to adults and older teens. Participants are asked to bring their own supplies in, but some basic supplies will be provided by the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Ruth Keeler Memorial Library
276 Titicus Road
North Salem, NY  10560
View map »


Sponsor: Keeler Library
Telephone: 914-669-5161
Contact Name: Carolyn Reznick
Website »

More information

Ridgefield Guild of Artists' 14th Annual Festive Home...All That Glitters! opens Friday evening, November 16th with a preview party from 6-8pm.  For an entry fee of $20, attendees will...

Cost: $20 Preview Night Party/Free Days

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Guild of Artists
Telephone: 203.438.8863
Contact Name: Mary Pat Devine
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Ridgefield Guild of Artists' 14th Annual Festive Home...All That Glitters! opens Friday evening, November 16th with a preview party from 6-8pm.  For an entry fee of $20, attendees will...

Cost: $20 Preview Night Party/Free Days

Where:
Ridgefield Guild of Artists
34 Halpin Lane
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Sponsor: Ridgefield Guild of Artists
Telephone: 203.438.8863
Contact Name: Mary Pat Devine
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags