Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) is proud to announce this year’s UP/Start Venture Competition winners — Makers for Humankind, which took home $29,750, and Small Island Clothing, which took home $29,000. Winners were chosen from a group of eight finalists after private virtual pitches to a panel of judges on Tuesday, April 14.
Despite the unprecedented world health pandemic, this year’s eight finalists continued their work after being chosen at MICA’s pop-up-and-pitch event in February. During the last two months, ventures continued with cohort virtual meetings, as well as continued communications with their mentors.
Makers for Humankind, a venture by Mikea Hugley ’19 (Graphic Design BFA and 2017/18 AIGA DC Design Continuum Fund Scholarship recipient), brings socially innovative footwear to everyday people in every walk of life. The shoes are for people who are constantly on their feet serving others, especially: healthcare workers, waitstaff, teachers and moms. The shoe is customizable, socially conscious, affordable and comfortable. Makers for Humankind is committing 10 percent of its proceeds to the unhoused population who suffer from the lack of proper footwear and foot diseases.
Small Island Clothing, a venture by Sara Stanton ’19 (Business of Art & Design MPS), creates ties without labels, for people without labels. Stanton’s company is one of the only genderless clothing companies designed specifically for transgender and gender non-conforming individuals who are tired of having to choose between binary clothing options for “men” or “women,” and who avoid shopping as a result. The company’s objective is to create a safe and celebratory space that empowers queer people. Small Island ties are for every body, in patterns that are as fun and fabulous as you are.
In addition, the People’s Choice Award, which is typically voted on and announced during the finale event, was chosen after an online voting contest from April 14-24. Blackives, by Deyane Moses ’19 ’21 (Photography BFA and Curatorial Practice MFA) won this year’s award, bringing home $5,000. Blackives is a consulting firm dedicated to closing the racial inequality gap in the field of art and design.
“The resiliency of entrepreneurs and the value and transformative nature of art are as important now, during trying times, than ever before,” Stephanie Chin, MICA’s entrepreneurship evangelist, said. “In a time when so many are feeling disconnected, our community has continued to rally, support and celebrate one another.”
The UP/Start Venture Competition, now in its fifth year, is an initiative of MICApreneurship and the newly created Ratcliffe Center for Creative Entrepreneurship, and focuses on incubating and building creative business ventures within the MICA community. The finalists competed for seed funding totaling $100,000, funded by the Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation.
In addition to the top two winners, four other ventures took home the remaining funds.
- $15,000 was awarded to Hadassah Dowuona ’20 (Fiber BFA), for the venture Hadassah Dowuona, which designs intercultural patterns and textiles that are transformed into fashion accessories. Hadassah Dowuona combines African symbols and cultural elements with Western design influences to promote cultural awareness and to provide a platform for celebrating Black heritage.
- $11,250 was awarded to Claire Chuff ’20 (Product Design & Graphic Design BFA), for the venture Pura, which is committed to providing customers with skin care products that will promote both beauty and health, while also offering an environmentally sustainable alternative to traditional skincare products. Pura’s first product is the Pura Makeup Brush Set, which consists of one handle and multiple interchangeable brush heads that come in a variety of different sizes and shapes and easily snap on and off of the handle.
- $10,000 was awarded to Heidi Good Boncana ’20 (Social Design MA), for the venture Photo Story Workshop, which puts cameras in the hands of children. The venture teaches elementary and middle school school children visual storytelling techniques to build voice for community-led social change through supplemental arts-based after school learning within transformative school climates and online learning.
- $5,000 awarded to Haven DeAnglis ’20 (Fiber BFA), for the venture STITCH AND DESTROY, which is the first punk and alternative fashion business committed to solving textile waste by using recycled materials to make affordable one-of-kind clothing and accessories for today’s growing sustainability-minded generation. All of STITCH AND DESTROY products are handmade from repurposed and recycled materials, such as worn clothing, fabric scraps, plastic bags and soda tabs.
The remaining two ventures, Blackives and M Strickland Design, by M Strickland ’19 (Social Design MA), received a $500 stipend.
This year’s winners were chosen by a panel of judges, including: Peter Beaugard ’06 Head of Brand Strategy, Marketing & E-commerce, Dooney & Bourke; Aleksandra Bogunovic ’12 ’13, Principal Thermal Blanket Specialist, Aerothreads Inc.; Marjie Cota, VP Strategic Partnerships & Market Development, Harbor Designs; Tina Davenport, Trustee, Philip E. and Carole R. Ratcliffe Foundation; and Hakim Dyer, CEO, Dyer Bermingham.
To learn more about UP/Start, click here. To learn about MICA’s commitment to creative entrepreneurship, and learn more about the recently announced Ratcliffe Center for Creative Entrepreneurship, click here.