Amina Ahmad ’12

In Amina K. Ahmad ‘12’s notebook from when she was a student, you’ll find a host of ideas, from tote bags made of melted plastic bags to designs for a handmade dress. She carried the notebook to class, jotting down ideas when they came to her -- but she had no idea that her love for crafting would sprout into a full-time job.

“I was selling things at markets, dying clothes with tea and making candles,” Ahmad recalls. “I ended up getting hooked on the idea of running a business -- making something and having someone want to see it and buy it was amazing.”

Now, Ahmad is the owner and marker of her own all-natural candle and beauty goods business Handmade Habitat. She learned about the toxic effects of traditionally-made candles while researching making candles and her environmental science classes at Maryland helped put that information in perspective. She began creating soy-based candles in her college apartment, staying up late to work between papers and exams.

“It feels like a miracle that it worked out,” she says. “I have a studio in DC that I work out of and I have control over my every day.”

Handmade Habitat sells retail and wholesale products, in addition to hosting workshops and trunk shows. The main goal of Handmade Habitat, Ahmad says, is to help people realize they can live better.

“We have the possibility to be more responsible to the environment, to only have things in our home that are going to help ourselves instead of secretly hurting,” she explains.

The business has come a long way, Ahmad says, since she attended her first major market in DC in 2015. Handmade Habitat has been featured by Washington City Paper, the Washingtonian and the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Recently, Handmade Habitat received a Tweet from a long-time supporter who purchased a dress from Ahmad when she first started more than seven years ago.

“I’ve been trying to reflect a little bit more on it lately,” Ahmad says. “This is all I ever wanted when I first started doing this.”