Nest Connects Jonathan Cohen and Refugee Artisan Initiative to Create Upcycled Necklaces for Fall 2021

September 14, 2021

Author: Ashley Post

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Earlier this year, Nest introduced renowned designer Jonathan Cohen to Refugee Artisan Initiative (RAI), a member of the Nest Artisan & Maker Guild. They worked together to design and create unique, hand-beaded necklaces remnant fabric from the designers Fall 2021 collection. The result of their collaboration was recently celebrated in Vogue and Elle as the outlet lauded the collection, which prominently featured the upcycled necklaces created by RAI.

Jonathan Cohen is recognized for his innovative approach to design which creates modern silhouettes with limited production waste. As his team styled their Fall 2021 collection, they suggested finishing each look with hand-beaded necklaces made from the scraps and remnants of the collection. Connected through Nest’s Craft Coalition, Jonathan used Nest’s transparent sourcing services to find a qualified artisan business capable of upcycling the remnants into necklaces. Nest connected him with Refugee Artisan Initiative (RAI), a Seattle-based Guild member that provides artisan skills training to refugee and immigrant women to support them in a prosperous transition to life in the United States. The organization prioritizes small-batch manufacturing to achieve zero waste.

Speaking with Vogue about the necklaces and decision to work with RAI, Jonathan Cohen said, “We speak about sustainability in various ways, but people often ignore the fact that workers are part of the issue as well. It’s important to not only know where your clothes are coming from but who is making them. To be able to speak to the people who are making the pieces and hear their stories is truly special.”

“During the pandemic, it became more important to me than ever to support handicrafts and artisans,” Cohen said. “It’s the reason why organizations such as Nest and RAI are so important; they create [connections] to the artisans when you can’t travel. This is essential and creates beautiful results.” Throughout the process, Jonathan Cohen and RAI continued to share the joy they felt in working together to create these unique accessories.

On the necklaces, Vogue writer Emily Farra wrote, “Layered up with Cohen’s vivid gowns, the necklaces lend a touch of artsy texture, but they’ll also appeal to minimalists looking to add a flash of color to their T-shirts and jeans. That they support the Refugee Artisan Initiative’s mission to help women gain confidence and financial independence is all the more reason to experiment with a strand or two.”

You can view and purchase these unique, collaborative necklaces through Jonathan Cohen’s website.

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