The Crucible Partners With SF Made For The Open For Business Program


The Crucible is excited to announce that SFMade and The Crucible were just awarded $275,000 from Wells Fargo Open for Business Fund to support Bay Area entrepreneurship.

In partnership with SFMade, The Crucible will be launching Open for Business, a pilot program that will serve Bay Area BIPOC entrepreneurs and help them to launch a business selling physical artisanal products.

SFMade is a nonprofit based in San Francisco dedicated to creating pathways to economic prosperity for diverse, low-income residents of the San Francisco Bay Area through business ownership and employment in local manufacturing. Since its inception, SFMade has become an internationally recognized and emulated model for manufacturing-based economic development.

Program participants, mentors, and supporters meet for an introductory diner. From left to right, Program Manager, David Banks, participants, Amy Alaman and Brandyn Willridge, and mentor Billy Hiebert. 

Over the course of the year, the program will help 10 BIPOC individuals to launch an artisanal manufacturing business. SFMade will provide business planning and technical assistance including tailored advising, educational workshops, and education around access to capital. The Crucible will provide support in fabricating industrial art products, and instruction and skill-building across a variety of disciplines, as well as access to tools, equipment, and studio space.

“For artists in the Bay Area, entrepreneurship is often necessary to sustain living here—but not all artists have the same access to capital or intergenerational wealth to support starting a new business,” explains Susan Mernit, Executive Director of The Crucible. “For lower-income BIPOC artists in particular, there are challenges to having access to funding, studio space, and business planning support. This partnership with SFMade will help offer useful resources to community members that we deeply value.”

Meet your 2022 Open For Business cohort

Ahsan Gaskins


I was born and raised in Oakland, CA, and gravitated toward electricity and conduction theory early in life, taking apart my toys and putting them back together. By 16-years-old, I had built 16 radio control cars, the fastest capable of reaching 97mph. A few years later, I joined the United States Marine Corps where I learned in-depth circuitry electron theory and became a professional solderer capable of soldering components so small they could be lost under your fingernail.

Now, post-military, I am pursuing my passion for electricity creating inventions that fill many needs. With the help of program mentors, I am researching composites that will decrease weight and allow for more vibrant aesthetics. My goal for this program is to establish a foundation for future business administration and security for my inventions through patenting and Business LLCs.

Amy Alaman

Mixed Media & Textiles

I am an installation artist, jewelry-maker, painter, intuitive painting teacher, and the owner and founder of Sacred Paintbrush Arts. I’m a Bay Area native currently living in West Oakland. I work with several different mediums, specializing in mixed-media art and hand-painted wood jewelry and notebooks. 

Through the Open For Business program I hope to leave with a new collection of mixed-media jewelry of a higher quality and craftsmanship. I started my business in 2019 and I am hoping the support I receive from this program will help my business reach the next level and become even more sustainable long-term. 

Learn more about Sacred Paintbrush online and on Instagram @thesacredpaintbrush.

Brandyn Willridge

Metal & Wood

My name is Brandyn Willridge. I am originally from Springfield, Massachusetts but reside in the Bay Area. I am a welder, metal sculpture artist, and metal fabricator specializing in one-off sculptures. My work also sometimes includes lighted, wood, or kinetic elements. 

I am a Studio Operations Manager at The Crucible and oversee various studio tasks with a special focus on our welding department. I am also a faculty member in the Welding and Bike Shop departments, teaching classes to youth and adults.

Through the Open For Business Program, and with the help of my mentors, I’m looking to complete my product line and launch my website. See more of my art on Instagram @brandyn_413

Cori Pillows

Wood & Textiles

I am the founder and business owner of Core Creations, a visual art-based company generating high-end archival quality reproductions of my original art depicting historical black portraits, revolutionary ARTivism, and conceptual illustrations of the spirit and beauty reflected in my community.

I am from Chicago, Illinois, and migrated to the Bay Area in 2002. In 2009, I received my Master’s Degree in Multimedia at California State East Bay and have been selling my artwork since 2014. I am a multi-disciplinary artist practicing in mediums from acrylic painting to sculpture to woodworking. 

I enjoy choosing a different international residence for three months out of a year to be inspired and make art, my favorite being Ecuador. See examples of my work and learn more about my business at

Komoia Johnson, Ph.D.

Paper, Glass, & Textiles

I was born and raised in the Bay Area. For the past 25 years, I have partnered with young people and their families in various educational communities. Through these partnerships, I began to use art as a vehicle for young people to decompress, work through trauma and stress, address conflict, and build positive relationships with one another. On this journey, I decided to turn my creativity toward jewelry-making.

To grow my skills, I would like to learn more about thin metal work, enamel, and glass. By combining these additional skills with my paper art, I feel like my jewelry could be taken to the next level.

As a participant in this cohort, I plan to learn how to build and sustain my business while teaching young people how to do the same. I am a firm believer that knowledge should be shared openly, freely, and widely so everyone in the community can access the support they need to be seen and heard.

Are you a good fit for this program?

This program specifically supports our local communities of low-income black, indigenous, and people of color, residing in the cities of San Francisco and Oakland, and surrounding areas in Alameda County.

This program is a good fit for you if you: 

  • Want to build and scale a business centered on artisan goods
  • Have experience creating and selling hand-crafted and/or manufactured products in at least one of the following areas: Metals, Woodworking, Jewelry, Glass, Ceramics, Leather, and/or Textiles
  • Seek to expand or vary a product line
  • Have the time and interest to spend 3-10 hours a week at The Crucible in West Oakland working on design, fabrication, and production skills
  • Can be available in person or virtually to engage in business development and marketing strategy and execution of those strategies
  • Interested in selling at some real-world and virtual markets during the course of the program
  • Would benefit from financial advice and planning around expanding their business and growing revenue

Participants will receive the following:

  • Studio space (shared) valued at $175
  • Equipment & consumables use valued at $250
  • Storage locker valued at $75
  • Materials fees (start up) valued at $750
  • Mentor support
  • Up to 30 hours of classes at the Crucible valued at $1800
  • Web development and marketing support valued at $400
  • Business licenses valued at $300
  • Printing and vending prep, booth signage, etc valued at $300

The Crucible and SFMade will be recruiting for a second program cohort in 2022. You can apply for this second cohort at the link below!

Ready to apply to the Open For Business program?

Take your business dreams to the next level and fill out our application below.

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