meet

the Makers

Meet the Maker: Aromariss

Rissa Sant'Anna is the Owner at Aromariss, maker of handmade natural skin, body and hair products.

What kind of artisan/designer are you?
I make natural soaps and other bath and body products

Why did you become an Artisan?
I discovered the beautiful art of soapmaking under the hobbies section of a friend’s wedding photo-sharing site. I was in Senegal at the time, with a limited choice in supplies. So I set out to create a recipe with shea butter, coconut and palm oil; three oils and butter that are easily available in West Africa. I realized that using shea butter in soaps did wonders for dry skin..

What drives you to get up in the morning?
Satisfying clients needs

How are your products/artistry connected to the African-Caribbean Diaspora?
Most of my products are made with shea butter that comes directly from West Africa.

What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourself through your journey in entrepreneurship?
I learned that i need to get much better at managing my time.

Meet the Maker: Baccanalle Foods

From Engineer to award-winning chef, Resa Solomon-St.Lewis is the owner of Baccanalle Lifestyle Foods, where she brings her unique culinary brand of contemporary and traditional Caribbean and Soul food with lifestyle options to Ottawa and the National Capital Region.

What type of artisan or designer are you?
Food artisan

Why did you become an artisan?
I wanted to immerse myself in my passion and my food culture on a daily basis and to pursue a quest for curiosity and excellence.

What drives you to get up in the morning?
My family and the prospect of meeting new challenges.

What’s the best part about being an entrepreneur?
Seeing my ideas and my vision blossom

How do your products/art connect to the African Diaspora?
I was born in Canada (Winnipeg) and I’m so proud to be of Trinbagonian (Trinidad & Tobago) Heritage. I’m honoured to share my interpretation of Caribbean Food and Trinidadian Food culture and to worked with the High Commission for Trinidad & Tobago in Ottawa.

What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourself through your journey in entrepreneurship?
I’ve learned that a Team/Support network is critical at all stages - no one person has all of the answers or capacity to meet the goal.

Meet the Maker: Chakou Collection

Chakou is the creator of Chakou Collection and the Afroprincess collection of African Prince dolls

What kind of artisan/designer are you?
We offer African inspired pieces Doll, Jewelry and purses

Why did you become an Artisan?
After graduating from Teacher's College, it was extremely difficult, being a minority in Ottawa to find a teaching job. A couple of years ago,  we couldn’t find a black doll for our daughters so we started our own collection called Afroprincesses. The dolls are making a big impact in the community.

What drives you to get up in the morning?
Every morning I want do more and do better than the day before.


How are your products/artistry connected to the African-Caribbean Diaspora?
We offer African inspired pieces. Our dolls are created in the image of African children, born in the Diaspora. Those kids have a different daily live than their peers. When we created our products we focused on the African culture and traditions.

What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourself through your journey in entrepreneurship?
You have to persevere!

Meet the Maker: Chidima Dezigns

Chidima Nzakamulilo is the owner and Founder of Chidima Dezigns, where she translates her love for African fabrics into fabulous fashion, bridal and home decor items

What type of artisan or designer are you?
Clothing, home decor and accessories

Why did you become an artisan?
I love working with my hands and I am quite the introvert

What drives you to get up in the morning?
Every new project/piece excites me! It is the possibilities.

What’s the best part about being an entrepreneur?
Enjoying what I do even though being an entrepreneur has it's own challenges!

How do your products/art connect to the African Diaspora?
Everything, it is who I am!

Meet the Maker: Debbie Miller Photography

The #IHAVENOWORDS project was born out of my commitment to be a part of the call to action for change. Action the would bring about lasting change.

I needed to harness and channel the rage, anger, disgust and profound sadness that I was feeling as a result of the unjustified killing of George Floyd on May 25th, 2020 by a Minneapolis police officer.

As a black woman, mother, daughter, sister, wife and police officer, I could no longer remain silent. I needed to stand up and be a part of this call to action to acknowledge that “black” people are facing systemic discrimination, unconscious bias and anti-black racism

every.

single.

day.

I began to have deep conversations particularly with black men in the community, black police officers and mothers of black sons. During these conversations, I asked them to share their thoughts and experience on cue cards. I sought their permission to photograph them as we spoke. The conversations were deeply emotional and introspective.

This collection of emotionally charged conversations allowed me to understand their feelings and capture images of the acute pain, suffering and profound sadness and frustrations that has beset our community. In this tapestry of photographs and community quotes, this book offers a view into the impact of intergenerational racism on black families and gives voice to their cry “… I can’t breathe…”. It is also a call to have courage - a call to pursue this shared path of resistance; a call to do the hard work to build a more equal, equitable and inclusive society.

Black people continue to be impacted by systemic racism. As a society, we need to stand together to ignite a movement against racism and discrimination. This requires all of us to continue to listen, learn and act to invoke real change.

Meet the Maker: Eight50 Coffee

Hailing from a long line of Ethiopian coffee farmers and roasters, Muna M. pays tribute to her coffee roots (and the origins of coffee) through her offering of responsibly sourced, organic and fair trade specialty coffee and coffee equipment.

We are a proud, women-owned Canadian coffee company sharing our love for coffee that has been woven into our Ethiopian heritage- (The birthplace of coffee). We set a high standard for ourselves and use our family values as a compass to guide our business values.

Through community involvement and responsible business practices we are setting out to make a difference in our community, while simultaneously supporting the communities around the world that we purchase our coffee from.

Our focus is to provide a variety of certified organic and fair trade coffee from around the world that is locally roasted. From flavor to frequency, brewing method to accessories, we provide an array of online coffee learning tools and equipment to allow for a complete online shopping experience for customers to brew our unique blends and single origin coffee at home.

We can’t wait for you to try our coffee!

Meet the Maker: Twenty20 Skincare

Elena Minnow is the Owner at Twenty20 Skincare, maker of products with simple and clear ingredients that are safe for our health, community and the earth.

What kind of artisan/designer are you?
I make handcrafted skincare products featuring natural ingredients from my grandmother’s hometown and made with Shea Butter from Ghana

Why did you become an Artisan?
I loved making all natural products for my friends and family and decided to share it with others.

What drives you to get up in the morning?
Knowing that I have a greater purpose and each new day is a chance to fulfill it

How are your products/artistry connected to the African-Caribbean Diaspora?
All our skincare products are made with Shea Butter from Ghana which is something I discovered after visiting my grandmother in her hometown.

What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourself through your journey in entrepreneurship?
There is a reason for everything. Make sure you know your own reason too!

Meet the Maker: Michael (Mikey Wizdom) Assivero

Michael Assivero is the author of the children's book My Name is My Name and My Name CAN'T Change. He is also a well-known radio personality who goes by the name Mikey Wizdom on  CHUO 89.1FM Caribbean Flavour show on Saturday afternoons

What type of artisan or designer are you?
A first time author of a children's book.

Why did you become an artisan?
I wanted to write a book that told a story of my family, that shared hope , joy and love. An important part of that story was to have the book reflect and represent how we looked.

What drives you to get up in the morning?
Love. May seem like a fluffy answer, but it's true. I constantly want to make the world a lil better every day. So I do my best to take opportunities daily to brighten someone's day, make them laugh,listen to them cry... An important part of that equation is learning to accept love as well.

What’s the best part about being an entrepreneur?
The product that someone buys is you. Each customer takes a piece of you home with them. What ever your skill or craft may be, whether one or ten thousand. Someone appreciated your hard work enough to take it home with them.

How are you products/art connected to the African Diaspora?
I wanted my kids to open a book and see themselves, not something that was made to kinda look like them. I wanted other children to open a book and see themselves as well. Of course I'm not the first to do it, but I wanted to contribute to that pool of beauty!

What’s one thing you’ve learned about yourself through your journey in entrepreneurship?
One of the hardest lessons has been to understand that there are so many things that are outside of my control, and that's ok. Always be prepared for the unexpected (seems ridiculous to say, but it's true). Sometimes amazing opportunities arrive without notice... Be prepared to leap!