The other week my coworkers and I were on our way home from work, when we stumbled across this adorable, new boutique Mushmina on South Street in Philadelphia. Mushmina is filled with custom designed Moroccan accessories that have cultural integrity and soul.
We struck up a conversation with Katie O’Neill, Mushmina’s creative director and manager of the boutique in Philadelphia. Katie and her sister Heather O’Neill co-founded Mushmina, and just opened the boutique this past May. Their mission is “through the design and promotion of beautiful artisan products Mushmina creates a way to employ and empower people, particularly women.”
I had the pleasure of sitting down with Katie the following week and chatting with her about the social vision behind her and her sister’s company. It all started when Katie’s sister Heather O’Neill served as a volunteer small business advisor with the United States Peace Corps in Morocco. Heather educated women on how to diversify their products to generate more income. While Heather was over in Morocco, Katie was attending the University of the Arts in Philadelphia focusing on fibers and metals. After Katie graduated she become very interested in cultural anthropology, and then she and Heather ended up traveling through Morocco and Mali for a month educating the women artisans on product development. Katie held weaving workshops with the women, and worked with them to develop smaller products that would yield to quicker production and more products to sell.
After three years of door to door sales, personal trunk shows and wholesaling, Katie and Heather have opened up their very first Mushmina store and sell their beautiful and unique Mushmina products in over 80 stores across the United States.
The ladies of Mushmina work with over nine different artisan groups in Morocco, employing over 75 artisans. Katie designs most of Mushmina’s handbags and jewelry. Around the store you’ll find photos and stories behind each collection. She creates the original product samples and then travels to Morocco to collaborate directly with Moroccan artisans to produce one-of-a-kind, Moroccan inspired products while also preserving traditional Moroccan styles and techniques.
My favorite collection is the Bali Collection of sterling silver custom designed earrings and pendants with vibrant, vintage fabrics.
Mushmina also sells handmade accessories and products by local artisans such as:
I highly recommend checking out this boutique–online or in person! If you are local, stop by this weekend October 12th-14th during DesignPhiladelphia for a photojournalism exhibition featuring Mushmina’s work with artisans in Morocco. Katie will be more than happy to take you through her and her sister’s various travel adventures through Morocco. Also, once a month Mushmina hosts fun events with tea and wine. Last month they hosted a henna party!
1540 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19146
Tuesday – Friday: 12pm – 8pm
Saturday: 11am – 8pm
Sunday: 12pm – 5pm
To sign-up for their bi-weekly blog/email updates, email firstname.lastname@example.orgMichelle is a crocheter, graphic designer, and arts administrator in Philadelphia, PA. She is the creator of Only Meesh Handmade through which she brings brilliant colors and great fashion into peoples’ lives with her crocheted scarves, cowls, and jewelry. Michelle obtained a BFA in graphic design from the University of the Arts, and from time to time creates custom designs for social events such as weddings, showers, graduations, and birthdays. Discover her etsy shop and blog .