Founded in East Baltimore by alumnae Hannah Brancato '07 '10 '11 and Julia Di Bussolo '06 '07 along with community members Netta Chaney, Laurel Ash, and Natasha Miller, Mother Made is a cooperatively operated program that produces reusable textile products, such as shopping bags and hand-dyed napkins. Armed with eco-friendly merchandise, the women are producing a positive effect in their neighborhoods and the environment by offering alternatives to the usage of plastic and paper, thus reducing the amount of trash and litter these items leave behind. The founders made it their mission to promote financial independence through job training for single mothers, who create and sell the products.
Di Bussolo came up with the concept of Mother Made after hearing about the effectiveness of women-run businesses and microloans in Rwanda. "The mothers I work with in East Baltimore are strong, courageous, and creative. Why are we not investing more in the empowerment of women in the United States?" Earning an MFA in Community Arts, Brancato already understood how important community engagement is. "As an artist, my goal is to make art and culture that lends itself to grassroots community development and that highlights powerful women. So when I heard about Mother Made starting, I was excited to use my skills to help get the business off the ground."
And what pearl of wisdom do the founders offer future business owners who want to make an impact? "Business owners should consider the broad social implications of their company, their product, and their brand."