Melika is the owner of Yapoma and curates the content sold in the shop, as well as collaborates with other crafters to create products or connect them with other opportunities for crafting and/or selling that might present themselves. She has a BFA in photography and sells her prints in Yapoma. She also makes jewelry and some include her photos. In addition to photography and curating the one of a kind products for Yapoma, Melika also does book-binding for the store and sells custom products for other organizations in Baltimore.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Baltimore, MD! I did spend a few years living in Canada and Chile, but Baltimore drew me back :)
What do you make/sell?
Photography is my thing, but it can be a hard sell. I started making photo jewelry a few years ago (and after some research on etsy). People seem to really love the idea of wearing a piece of art. I also create handbound books and like to play around with different materials for the covers and try different things with the pages, like ripping them instead of cutting so the edges are all different, and staining the pages in tea so that they look really old.
What other stores on/offline do you sell your items in?
I also sell my items at The Everyman Theatre Gift Shop and the Evergreen Museum Gift Shop
What’s your favorite thing to make?
Besides printing photos in the darkroom, I really love to make books. The opportunity to combine the 2 to make a custom photo book is the best!
Tell us a little bit about your craft: When did you first start to create? When did you begin to hone your craft? Why do you create?
I’ve always loved working with my hands. Both of my parents are very talented and when I was little I spent a lot of time in my dad’s workshop (he reupholsters old antique furniture) and pretty much let me have free range for experimenting and making all sorts of things. In high school I started doing darkroom photography, and I was pretty much in love even before I stepped into the darkroom. I love making things. When it’s been a while since I’ve made something, I start to get antsy and anxious — I thrive on working and being busy and I love the sense of accomplishment of creating something really amazing and knowing that it all came from me.
Tell us a little bit about your business: Why do you run a small business? What do you hope for the future of your business?
I want Yapoma to be a place where people come to feel a connection to the things they buy. When you know that someone poured a little bit of themselves into their creations, it transforms things into something else. I want artists and crafters to have a fair wage for their labor and I want to be able to offer people a different way to shop – a more ethical way. I’d love to see Yapoma in a huge space where we’d be able to offer tons of handmade items and things like: on staff seamstresses to alter clothes, an area for craft classes, displays all made locally, a staff that also creates items to sell… things like that!