Brush Box Celebrates The Process Of Making Art Through Crafts

To create a sense of community during quarantine, Amber Thomas called on her friend Kadijiha Jones to found their business Brush Box. Brush Box combines Thomas’ superhero directive—which encourages individuals to build their own superhero—along with Jones’ love of crafts into one to inspire people to create and enjoy the process of art making.

Thomas discovered how beneficial incorporating the superhero directive was while studying Clinical Counseling and Art Therapy. According to Thomas, her patients uncovered their hidden capabilities and discovered their talent through this initiative. From the success of her patients, Thomas brought Jones on board to provide this type of art and healing to the city of Milwaukee.

“Milwaukee needs to focus on building community and art is a great way of doing that,” said Thomas.

Thomas is the founder and creative director of Brush Box and Jones is the co-founder and director of marketing and operations. The two met as dorm advisors who grew as friends through their love of creating community.

“You have fun doing it. We want people to enjoy the process of creating,” said Jones.

The Brush Box team is now a team of three with Yuliana Iniguez as the creative team lead.

The Brush Box team: Kadijiha Jones (L), Amber Thomas (M) and Yuliana Iniguez (R). (Picture by Lily Shea Photography/Carvd N Stone)
The Brush Box team: Kadijiha Jones (L), Amber Thomas (M) and Yuliana Iniguez (R). (Picture by Lily Shea Photography/Carvd N Stone)

Brush Box items range from $10-$40 with most of their sales coming from organizations and businesses. They’ve partnered with Jewish Community Center (JCC), Alverno College Alumnae, Mount Mary Grace Scholars, United Way, Westlawn Housing, Center For Leadership of Afrikan Women’s Wellness (CLAWW), Kosciuszko Park & Community Center, and SRH. The goal is to provide an immersive experience to whomever they are in front of, from children to adults.

Brush Box also vends at Milwaukee’s well-known Alice’s Garden located in the 53205 zip code, where they offer $3 grab bags for children.

Through their many vending events and interactions with community members around the city, the team has found that most individuals are thrilled to have full creative control of the art provided by Brush Box. Most individuals aren’t given the opportunity to take full creative control and that’s exactly what Brush Box is giving to the community.

“The resources that we’re providing for people is something people can’t always provide for themselves,” said Iniguez.

Each Brush Box item is handpicked and put together by the team, down to the little glitter bags that are hand-poured. They let the art inspire their boxes and bags while putting their personal touches on each one.

To further grow the business, Jones participated in BIzStarts Institute, a community boot camp for entrepreneurs. She joined the cohort because it specifically wanted to help Black business owners and entrepreneurs gain an understanding and knowledge of what it takes to successfully run a business.

“I also felt that being in an environment of other business owners would help grow my network, as well as learn from others who have taken this entrepreneurial journey,” said Jones.

Jones learned about the program through friends and family members who sent her information about the application, which stated it would be awarding scholarships to businesses that demonstrated a financial need. She was accepted into the program and received a full scholarship.

She graduated from the program on May 22, 2021.

Brush Box was founded in 2020. (Picture by Lily Shea Photography/Carvd N Stone)
Brush Box was founded in 2020. (Picture by Lily Shea Photography/Carvd N Stone)

As the business continues to expand and reach different parts of Wisconsin, and eventually other states, Brush Box will continue to spread the message of creating through art.

“You can be and do what you want to do. There are people creating right here in Milwaukee,” said Iniguez.

Check out Brush Box’s website here.

Nyesha Stone founded Carvd N Stone in 2017 to cover positive news while attending the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Stone has a B.A. in Journalism. She has raised over $30,000 to award grants and scholarships. She has also been featured in ESSENCE and worked with the American Black Film Festival.

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