Mushmina: Watching a Vision Transform Into Reality
When they founded Mushmina, sisters Heather O’Neill and Katie O’Neill wanted to do more than sell custom-made fair trade accessories produced by artisans in Morocco and Mali; they wanted to change lives.
“Artisans in these countries do beautiful work, but have few opportunities to generate income—yet, they are full of ideas, spirit and vision,” said Heather O’Neill, co-founder and production manager for Mushmina. “We saw so many talented artisans in Morocco who could not find jobs. We were determined to connect their beautiful craft to customers who would appreciate their skill. It was the perfect combination: they had the artistry, we had the market access and understanding of what would sell to a waiting U.S. market.”
The sisters created a workshop space in Morocco, where local artisans could create Mushmina products. But, in addition to a production facility, they wanted to transform part of the space into a training center, where women could gain independence by learning an income-producing trade—and to find their own voices in the process.
“We had the vision of the Flying Camel training center within our production facility, which has come to life this year. For $12 a month, women can come here five days-a-week and learn to create artisan goods,” Katie O’Neill, co-founder and artistic director for Mushmina said. “Although it took five years, the Flying Camel Training Center has organically taken flight. To see it full and to see so many women taking classes—not just because they wanted to earn a living, but because they were interested in having a sense of purpose in this world—has been the best day for us so far; definitely the most inspiring. We sell amazing products; but our company has a higher purpose—and we’ve seen that come to life.”
What could be more inspiring than that?