Life has been handing me back to back curveballs for the past few weeks and today, I needed a moment.
Honestly I debated posting Makers Monday today given how trying the last 24 hours have been, but decided to go ahead with it because this week’s feature is actually quite fitting when you’re overwhelmed (as many of us likely are) for a way to sneak in a few moments of calm and wellness into your day.
Today, I am honored to introduce you to another magnificent maker- Amina Ahmad of Handmade Habitat.
While working with an artist at the Off The Beaten Track Warehouse last year, I was drawn to Amina (ah-min-uh)’s beautiful and airy studio. Shortly afterward, I followed her on the gram and fell in love with her brand! Amina's holistic approach to wellness really resonated with me, and the beautiful aesthetic of her feed completely sold me.
The more I explored and followed Amina’s work, the more I knew that she would be a phenomenal maker to work with. I love seeing things that genuinely make me feel good just by looking at them and Amina's eco-friendly, handmade products are even better than they look!
I’m very grateful that Amina and I could connect offline to not only show you a portion of her process, but to further explore the importance of serenity and nature in her brand. These are some things all makers can benefit from, but I especially love the way it shows up for Amina 💚
You have a very eco-conscious business, how do you connect with nature personally?
I love nature. I grew up in a pretty rural part of Maryland and I think that has fostered a connection to nature and the changing of the seasons for me. I often joke that my parents collected trees. Growing up, we had a big yard with a dozen different trees from magnolias to dogwoods to weeping cherry trees, and the same with plants. In the spring and summer there was always something in bloom and we would spend a lot of time outside in our yard. The house my mom grew up in had a backyard filled with mint that my late grandmother planted which smelt magical every time you stepped outside into it. Everyone in my family always has mint around to keep that connection to her and that house. Now I love observing nature, the change throughout the year, and I try to spend some time with it every day. It’s very calming and grounding for me, always feels familiar, and one of my favorite parts of the day is when my dog and I take a long walk to check on all our favorite neighborhood flowers and trees.
Walk us through your creation process. What does it look like from idea to final product for one of your candle collections?
I like to start out with a mood that I'm trying to create when we embark on a new candle collection. Candles are such personal products that are completely connected to mood and aura, so I like to start with the feeling I want the candle to evoke. Then we test scent combinations, exploring new areas we haven't gone to with our current scents, and then we look for containers and start designing labels that also reflect those sentiments. It's a long process with lots of tiny decisions, but in the end, we wind up with a new look, a new scent, that is not just good smelling, but that helps our customers achieve a deeper sense of rest, inspiration, and calm.
What is the soundtrack to Handmade Habitat (what's playing in the background when you're creating)?
I love mellow music and light vibes. I listen to a lot of Jamila Woods, Raveena, Men I Trust, and new indie music like that. I can get really excited by music - it feels like it comes into my body and energizes me, sometimes too much lol, so sometimes it exhausts me to work with music on all day. That's when I switch to NPR and podcasts.
What is the most fulfilling aspect of owning Handmade Habitat?
It has been amazing to see an idea come to reality from a product perspective and a dream perspective. I never thought running a business that pays the bills and me a salary would be possible, and it makes me so happy that I have been able to live this life. Sometimes I get really caught up in the day to day but it’s also always so rewarding when someone tells you how much they love what you make.
As a small business owner, sometimes motivation can ebb and flow. What slows you down and how do you overcome it?
I’m a chronic avoider of email. I get a million emails about a million different things and it takes so much concentrated energy to get through it. At this point in my career though I’ve adopted the philosophy that I don’t owe everyone a response. My time has become the most valuable thing that I have now and I’m always working on trying to spend it most efficiently, and I’m still not able to do everything I want to accomplish.
What's been your favorite entrepreneurial highlight so far?
It’s hard to pick one! I’ve been making and selling things for nearly nine years now and there have been so many good moments. I was so excited when I got into my first store- the old DC Trohv (RIP), and when I got into my first Crafty Bastards which made me feel like i had finally earned so much credibility. But the small moments have been great too- someone telling you a story about how our geranium rose reminded them of a loved one that passed away, and all the great people I’ve met and that have come into my life through this business. DC’s maker community is so loving and supportive and that might just be the best thing.
What's the most important thing you've learned so far about yourself as a maker?
I’ve learned that I really enjoy the work. The business has become my whole life and I honestly love it. It’s been hard to find separation from work time and personal time because I can always be working but that’s because I really love it all so much.
Soo so good. Didn’t that just make you FEEL good? Thank you Amina for being apart of the Makers Series and sharing your insights and creative process with us!
Keep up with Amina online: Visit her website: https://handmadehabitat.co/ and give her a follow on instagram, pinterest, and twitter- she’s @handmadehabitat everywhere! Also, keep an eye out for when she has open studio hours because visiting her studio is a real treat!
Miss the first 2 features? Check them out here!
Want a makers photo session for yourself ? Check out the details in this newly announced service 🖤
Let me know what you thought of Amina’s feature and stay tuned for our next Makers Monday feature on June 17!