Katie and Heather O’Neill's fair trade products go beyond accessorizing a wardrobe or home: They empower the artisans who created them and help customers understand the importance of knowing the craft and tradition that go into whatever they buy.
In 2009, the sisters realized their mutual love for the arts and belief in cultural integrity. Katie, who studied jewelry and textile design at University of the Arts, and Heather, who was a small business adviser with the Peace Corps in Morocco, decided to start a small clothing, accessories, and home goods business, Mushmina, that would give low-resourced Moroccan artisans the opportunity to profit off their creative work.
Katie and Heather self-funded their business until it needed financial assistance, which is when Entrepreneur Works proved to be a “refreshing and helpful” resource, in their words. In November 2014 Heather and Katie came to Entrepreneur Works for a short-term loan as well as one-on-one business consulting, which they felt was “personal and thorough”, in order to keep growing their small business.
“Mushmina” - Heather's nickname for Katie when they were growing up - took on the meaning of “little sister,” which honors Mushmina’s diverse range of women artisans. Mushmina employs these women in an effort to appreciate their fine craftsmanship while also giving them ownership over their craft. On a local and community level, Mushmina in turn sells these Moroccan artisans’ products, among other globally and U.S.-made fair trade items, so that they can educate the public on their responsibility to understand the culture, traditions, and fairness that go into the goods they buy. “We’ve gotten such good feedback from customers who feel good about their purchasing power,” Katie says.
Since May 2015, Heather and Katie have been selling Mushmina products in their Wayne storefront, which also hosts monthly events, workshops, and trunk shows (featuring local artists’ work) as well as yoga and meditation sessions.