Women-Owned Business Series: Rebecca & Marrina from makeSHIFT

Welcome back to our Women-Owned Business Series! We are happy to feature makeSHIFT, founded by Rebecca & Marrina! Their practice focuses on making design accessible on a broader scale versus traditional design and architecture. Born out of their pro-bono work, their clients benefit from a conscious transformation of space. Read more about their organization below!

First, tell us about your business and anything special we should know about it or you.

We’re an architecture and design studio called makeSHIFT. We set up our design practice after working together on pro-bono work surrounding housing for formerly incarcerated people. We realized early on that we had complementary skills and a shared passion for design and social justice. Our focus is residential, but we’re interested in various typologies and project sizes. No project is too small.

Why do you feel a connection to your work?

We’re driven to make architecture a more inclusive practice and are active participants in groups that foster participatory, community oriented, design. That’s what gets us excited!

As a business owner, community is everything. In what ways do you serve your community and how has your community served you?

Our practice was built on making design accessible to a broader audience than is traditionally served by the architecture profession. We centered our early work around designing spaces to circumvent the criminal justice system: housing and transitional spaces for folks coming out of prison, eventually winning a grant through the AIA to study reentry housing for justice impacted people. We continue to practice this work and are actively engaged in pro-bono work through Design Advocates, where we’re working on projects around food justice, access to parks, and reproductive health. This work allows us to think about our commercial and residential work in a broader and more collaborative context.

What advice would you give to young women who want to start a small business?

Create a really specific mission statement and find mentors. Also, find a business partner who is good at all of the things you’re not.

What women inspire you and why?

Deanna Van Buren – Justice oriented practice and focus. Kazuyo Sejima; 2nd woman to win the pritzker prize. Our moms 🙂 – Taught us how to lead with our hearts.

What do you think are the most significant challenges for women business owners or women in leadership positions?

Being taken seriously.

Rebecca & Marrina were the 2020 recipients of the Arnold Brunner Grant through the AIA & are about to celebrate three years in business together. Check out their website to learn more & to see some of their projects!

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