BALTIMORE — Myla Robinson has always “made stuff.” Whether it’s Shrinky Dink plastic or cicada wings, she can find a way to craft with anything.
“Myla is someone that is so creative and humble,” said CiCi Flanagan, Robinson’s friend and customer. “She doesn’t like when you say it’s art, she wants to call it stuff.”
The 24-year-old’s lifelong love of crafting grew into Myla Makes Stuff — a jewelry business that, as of this month, is Robinson’s full-time job.
Robinson, who lives in the Patterson Park neighborhood, launched the project on Instagram last June, amid protests against anti-Black racism and the pandemic. She had wanted to help people in the long-term; not just with a one-off donation.
Then, an idea occurred to her. What if she started selling some of the stuff she had made and donated a portion to an organization of her choice? She gathered the pairs of earrings she’d made by pressing dried flowers in resin, and posted them on Instagram.
She sold out within an hour.
Since moving to Baltimore four years ago from Chicago, Robinson had worked as a teacher at the Baltimore Montessori Public Charter School. She continued working there remotely through the pandemic while also taking general studies classes at the Community College of Baltimore County, nannying and running Myla Makes Stuff. By October, she realized something had to give, so she quit her teaching job and stopped taking classes. In May, she stopped nannying to focus on Myla Makes Stuff full time.
Her process begins with scavenging for flowers and pairing them with the various earring frames she has. After Robinson pairs the frames with the flowers, she pours resin over them and waits for it to harden. She sells 150-200 pairs every few weeks via Instagram and her website.
Robinson prioritized Black mental health in her first few collections, donating to nonprofit organizations such as The Loveland Foundation and Sad Girls Club. Eventually she transitioned to donating almost exclusively to mutual aid hubs, which connect people in need with money and resources, including Abell & Charles Village Mutual Aid.
“The amount of donations that I had were so inconsequential to a nonprofit,” Robinson said. “I was looking at ways to maximize the donations that I could make. And I had a few followers talk to me about mutual aid.”