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When you read biographies about the great intellectual women of earlier centuries, their stories invariably involves salons. These gatherings that they would host in their well-appointed homes would host a rotating cast of intellectuals and artists, for the sole purpose of discussing ideas, science, and fine art. I always thought that sounded like a lovely undertaking, to get together creative, smart people to debate and share ideas.

Well, there is a modern equivalent in NYC for the ethical set. The Nest Co-op is a group of women who get together about once a month to discuss and support trends global artisanal craft. Nest, if you don’t know, is an organization that  provides short-term, targeted support to artisans and homeworkers, to help create economic opportunities that alleviate poverty, empower women, and preserve cultural traditions.

Sabah shoes. The last salon was held in Sabah House in the East Village, a small, appointment only boutique.

Sabah shoes. The last salon was held in Sabah House in the East Village, a small, appointment only boutique.

I first heard about Nest from Sana of Indelust last summer, but I didn’t know about the Salon until a friend invited me to the one featuring a discussion with Mara Hoffman, of the beautifully patterned, ethically made dresses and swimwear. I ran into several friends and industry acquaintances there, met new contacts, and thoroughly enjoyed Hoffman’s thoughtful talk on meditation. I apologized to my friend after who had brought me. “I’m so sorry I was running around and didn’t actually have time to talk to you much!” I told my friend who brought me. “No worries,” she said. “I love seeing you thrive!”

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The next salon was held a month later at Sabah House, a small, appointment-only townhouse/boutique that sells handmade leather slip-on shoes. Fragrance expert Lisa Wilson discussed and passed around perfume oils derived from orange blossoms in Morocco, while we sipped cocktails mixed up by Sabah House’s rakish founder, Mickey Ashmore. It was a heady experience, breathing in pure, precious oils and the scent of candles made from what would usually be considered waste from the process, and hearing about the hand-harvesting of orange blossoms by women in Morocco. This is just one of Nest’s many projects to support artisans – the salon was an evocative way to learn about a small slice of the industry.
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Before the official talk starts, co-op members always have some time to network and catch up with on another. I advise you to bring a smart friend to add to the fun!

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Nest’s Marika Shiga discusses their programs.

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Here’s the deal: If you sign up for the Co-op, your money supports Nest’s initiatives. In addition to early access to Salons and discounted Salon tickets, you’ll receive the Co-op Journal, which has a host of exclusive Co-op offerings, including recordings of the Salon discussions, Co-op spotlight interviews, book recommendations from Nest, conscious shopper discount codes and more. You can register online here.

Too busy to commit? You can also pay for each event by itself. The next Co-op Salon is on Tuesday, April 19th, with Nest Advisory Board member Amanda Hearst and Hassan Pierre, Co-Founders of Maison de Mode, and Nest Co-op Member Alexandra Shipper, Designer of SHIPPER outerwear for a Co-op Salon. This salon will explore the evolution of a more ethical consumer landscape. Touch and feel Alexandra’s outerwear collection, incorporating handloomed silk made by Nest Guild artisans in Varanasi, India. And browse the pieces sold on Amanda and Hassan’s new luxury ethical fashion website. RSVP to reserve your spot, as space is limited, and other salon’s have sold out within days. It’s $30 for non-members, and $10 for members.

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Director of artisan engagement for Nest Annie Millican talks about the orange blossom harvest.

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Perfume expert Lisa Wilson talks rapturously about scent.

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