Please Welcome Our New open For Business Cohort

Cathy Niland | 10.5.2022

Last Tuesday, our newest Open For Business (OFB) cohort gathered for the first time, kicking off their three-month program. This is the second iteration of our entrepreneurship incubator, designed to support Bay Area BIPOC makers in developing and expanding their product lines.

Over the next three months, participants will work alongside Crucible mentors in areas like Jewelry, Ceramics, Woodworking, Machine Shop, and Moldmaking. And while our cohort members all have established art practices and experience selling their work, Open For Business affords them the opportunity to grow their product lines through access to Crucible tools like CNC machines, 3D printers, reusable molds, and much more.

Open For Business 2022
The group follows OFB Program Manager, David Banks, on a tour through The Crucible’s Woodturning studio. 

For Ian Wenck, Machine Shop Department Head and OFB Mentor, being able to share what he’s learned is something he’s excited to do. “I remember starting out on my artist journey and it’s nice coming back around and imparting what I’ve learned on others so they can get the most out of their experience.” He continued; “I think mentorship is so important because it pairs people with folks who they may never have otherwise met.”

Through OFB, participants will also have access to business coaching from our new partners, ESO Ventures, an East Oakland-based organization dedicated to addressing economic, racial, and gender gaps for entrepreneurs. OFB Program Manager, David Banks told us, “We are super excited to partner with local small business accelerator, ESO Ventures. It’s rare that you find a team with roots in Oakland that is knowledgeable of an entrepreneur’s journey and has a track record of success for business for people of color.”

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With support from ESO’s Programs Manager, Sabrina Mutukisna, and Coach, Bri James, our OFB cohort will have regular one-on-one coaching sessions, business training, and access to capital. For Bri, helping folks make a living through their creative work is about more than financial security. She shared, “I think that art and entrepreneurship is really a path towards liberation and allows us to challenge narratives about our worth and our abilities and our power and those things can coexist.”

Toward the end of the program, our cohort members, alongside 60+ other Bay Area vendors, will sell their goods at our 2022 GIFTY craft show and open house this December 2, 3, and 4. Leading up to the event, OFB participants will also have access to marketing, booth design, and vendor preparedness training. And following the program’s conclusion, OFB participants will maintain access to ESO’s business portal as well as three months of access to The Crucible’s CREATE program

“It’s not just about having the tools to scale your business, but actually having a space to do it is huge,” shared Sabrina. “This partnership really does both things so that artist entrepreneurs can really make a living off of this work.”

Meet our new Open For Business cohort below and stay tuned as we bring you stories of their progress in the coming months.

Meet Your Second 2022 Open For Business Cohort

open for business 2022

Alejandro “Alex” Valle


What are you most looking forward to in this program?

“​​I am looking to learn mass production techniques and discover new sales markets.”

Follow on Instagram:

open for business 2022

Alisia Lundie


What are you most looking forward to in this program?

“I’m looking forward to the mentorship of the program. With that, I can learn new skills, techniques, and knowledge that will help expand and grow my business.”

Follow on Instagram: @nekosaan_ceramics

Naima Grace


What are you most looking forward to in this program?

“I’m looking forward to learning new skills from these incredible mentors and building off what I’ve already learned to make it better. I also can’t wait to receive business coaching and guidance on my jewelry business– something I’ve really been needing to help me get to the next level of craft and sustainability.”

Follow on Instagram: @naimagracejewelry 

open for business 2022

Nuri Nusrat


What are you most looking forward to in this program?

“I don’t know what I don’t know and it’s exciting to be around mentors who do know, folks who know so many different aspects of creation and creativity. I look forward to taking classes and mentoring to explore how I can make my stuff way better and be able to feel confident that it could be for folks and not just for my room.”

open for business 2022

Tracey-Renee Hubbard


What are you most looking forward to in this program?

“I am excited about growing my accessories brand by learning skills to make new products, streamlining my current workflow, and leveraging opportunities for mentorship and overall growth as an artist.”

Folow on Instagram: @hheyscotchbonnet

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