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The Opportunities Are There: A Black Designer’s Experiences with Inneract Project

Yellow text on blue background, surrounded by abstract shapes in primary colors, with the yellow and navy IP logo at the bottom. Quote: "Mentorship is part of what IP is to me...Mo [also] brought me into this community of other designers and educators...It feels good to be part of this community, people who generally care about supporting each other." -Aska Mukuti, IP volunteer

It’s an all-too-familiar story for Black creatives on their career journey: find your passion young, pursue it as a hobby, and then, as you grow in skill and age, see fewer and fewer folks who look like you on your trajectory, in school and the workplace.

This was Aska Mukuti’s experience as she made her way into the world of design, compounded by the fact that the Bay Area–raised designer was already used to being the “only” in her day-to-day life, too.

“I grew up in the South Bay and I didn’t see anyone who looked like me. I didn’t grow up with anyone who looked like me,” Aska told us in a recent interview. “So when I went into the design field, it felt like a familiar thing where I was like the only one.”

It was due to her experiences—including being the only Black student in the visual arts department at her Boston college—that Aska moved to New York after graduation, drawn to its “diverse, rich design culture [and] community.” But after working for two and a half years in New York, she was compelled to return to her home state.

Hoping to get a head start on finding her new design community, Aska sought advice from Forest Young, one of her mentors, on connecting with Black designers in the Bay Area. It was through him that she would ultimately find Maurice “Mo” Woods, founder and executive director of Inneract Project.