Rebecca van Bergen: Founder & Executive Director, NEST


My NativeAdVert:

Rebecca van Bergen is Founder and Executive Director of Nest. She graduated with her Masters Degree in Social Work the same year that Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize. 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, the second largest employer of women globally, into a means to correct the gender and income imbalance in our world, Rebecca founded Nest at age 24. Nest is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) building a new handworker economy to increase global workforce inclusivity, improve women’s wellbeing beyond factories, and preserve important cultural traditions around the world.

My Goal of the Day: Ensure ethical handcraft has a growing place in our economy.

My Thought of the Day: As we push the boundaries of technology; our souls will always want to be connected to the handmade.

My Action of the Day: Reviewed the product tags for the first round of products that will be on consumer shelves in January carrying Nest’s newly launched Seal of Ethical Handcraft so that shoppers can be assured that the goods they are purchasing were made with handworker wellbeing at the forefront.

My Deed of the Day: Include my kids in our work. My husband and I are business partners and we have two kids -- a 3-year-old and 5-year-old. We believe that equally important to our professional lives is ensuring we are bringing an empathetic and action-oriented next generation into the world. This includes not only having conversations with our kids but also organizing activities with neighborhood kids and families as well. I host a monthly volunteer activity that includes both kids of all ages as well as their parents to encourage family activism.

My Tip of the Day: People say visionaries look at the mountains. This is true – we must have a vision for the future we want to create. But, equally important is looking down at your feet and knowing how to take the first steps towards getting there. I live by to-do lists and making our vision for the future as practical and doable as possible – one step at a time. I believe firmly that we would make a lot more progress as a society if every day, we translated our hopes for the future (albeit it professional, personal, or political) into steps we can walk towards every day.

My Pic of the Day: 


A Day in My Life:

What do you love most about Your City?

I live an hour outside of New York City. I love the calm of the country mixed with the bustle of the city and being able to enjoy the best of both worlds.

Favorite breakfast meal & restaurant?

Avocado toast. I love it from anywhere, but often it is at the local diner in our town before hopping on the train into NYC.

What are you doing at:

6:00 AM – Snuggling on our couch with my two kids as they have warm milk to start their day and I sip a Lady Gray tea. They are still waking up and willing to be held, and it is, to me, the most magical hour!

10:00 AM – Arriving into Grand Central. I commute to the city from our home in Katonah, NY and love the routine of starting my day with an hour of emails on the train before the bustle of meetings and phone calls begins. 

12:00 PM - Favorite Lunch spot/meal?

Leftovers! We love to cook and with a local CSA farm share, we always have a plethora of fresh ingredients on hand. We always bring in our lunch but try to carve out time to officially enjoy it, though, honestly, it is usually downed while simultaneously writing emails or having a quick meeting.

7:00 PM -  Arriving home. Sipping a glass of red wine while my husband cooks us something for dinner. The kids are usually energized by our arrival home so chatter on about what they did at school and what they are thinking about. We tell them about our day and try to bring them into the world of Nest.

11:00 PM – Sound asleep. Early to bed, early to rise. 

What drink do you need to get through the day and at the end (and how many)?

I start with Lady Gray tea with milk and end with a glass of wine (red in the fall and winter; white in the spring and summer). Throughout the day, I am never without a bottle of water in hand. Hydration is key! 

Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?

Most used App is WhatsApp. We create WhatsApp groups for our artisan partners and I love participating in their conversations or observing them in dialogue with one another. Nest’s work to link artisan leaders as peers and collaborators is a perfect example of the collective might of the artisan community. It is often through these less formal communication channels that we really see people opening up, sharing and collaborating. I love following the work of our artisan partners and I’m currently having fun following the dreamy world of @sidaidesigns who creates hand beaded jewelry made by Maasai women in Tanzania and East Africa. @sonicasarna and @haitidesignco are others who are share beautiful photos not only of the products they make but also of the artisans who made them. 

What should everyone try at least once?

Crafting. With mass manufacturing, we are no longer making as much with our own hands. Yet, the patience and pride that comes from making can be really profound. It can be done alone, bringing calm and meditative qualities to our lives or in groups as a way to socialize. I think returning to making things by hand is an essential counter-balancing force to the continued obsession we have with technology and devices.

Where do you enjoy getting lost?

An artisan market anywhere in the world. I love all the stalls of goods, the women selling, the sounds, smells and textures. It gives you a glimpse into the plethora of skills, colors and raw materials used in a single place.