The Makers Program by Shayba Muhammad of Mahnal Jewelry

As the designer and owner of Mahnal, I’ve had to function as both metalsmith and entrepreneur. Because of this, I understand the struggle of having to tow that line between artist and business owner. It’s not an easy one! But- I’ve learned SO much with the help of other artists, mentors, jewelry designers, family, and of course Allah (God). Still, I continue to learn & grow as we all should.

Some of my greatest struggles have left a permanent mark on me and has taken the shape of ‘service’. Had I had the proper resources and guidance, I could have grown much more in a shorter period of time. Sometimes, however, you simply don’t know what you ‘don’t know’ and figuring out exactly what it is you need to be learning is (in my opinion) an unnecessary, added burden and road block slowing the potential progress of so many artists, makers, and creative entrepreneurs.

So, I thought about a solution. Actually- for a few years I sat on this idea. I continued to study my business, that of other makers, and the community. There are plenty of programs and incubators that exist that would address in some capacity developing artists- but not in the communities that needed it most. Not in black and brown communities.

Access to information is critical before we can even begin to discuss sustainable businesses in these (OUR) communities. Did you know: that if POC businesses were proportional to their distribution in the labor force, we would own about 1.1 million businesses, adding about 9 million jobs and $300 billion in workers income in the US? We can’t afford to ignore this.

Back to that part about thinking long and hard on this. I felt the very best way I could begin to imagine beginning to chip away at some of these long standing issues, was to reach into these communities RIPE with talent awaiting an opportunity and connect them directly with the resources most needed. This turned out to be through a series of 12 workshops, over a period of 12 weeks. Last September I ran a test version of the program called, The Makers Mart. This year it has evolved into just a small part of what is, The Makers Program.

What does all of this have to do with Mahnal? Well, Mahnal is evolving too. As I continue to unravel my own life’s purpose and work, so does the function of what I create evolve and unravel. Mahnal is growing into her own as a medium of ‘message’- carrying in each piece social, cultural, an historical symbolism. The Makers Program is like the sister that then takes the information and deposits it back into the community where more art, culture, and history will be produced.

The Makers Mart by Shayba Muhammad of Mahnal Jewelry

The whole point is to provide makers of color with the guidance and resources they need to build scalable (product-based) businesses.

  1. If you would like to learn more, visit
  2. If you have services to offer or you are an interested artist inbox me or email:
  3. Last, I would love to hear what you think!

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