Celebrating all bodies, identities, allies and friends through design
Muka celebrates identities and self-love through accessories, enamel pins and apparel
Muka, a Hamilton-based accessory, enamel pin and apparel brand, strives to help their customers feel confident and be unapologetically themselves. Founded in 2018 by two best friends, Lisa Wang and Alexis Fu, and their partners, Tony Song and Anita Tang respectively, the shop offers inclusive products for people of intersectional queer and racialized identities.
Wang and Fu met in high school and graduated from Sheridan College’s applied arts and animation program together. While working in the media industry creating content for children, they took note of the lack of representation of Black, Indigenous and People of Colour, 2SLGBTQIA+ community and intersectional identities in the media and took it upon themselves to fulfill this gap.
“We thought there wasn’t enough genuine representation in the media as well as in the fashion industry in general . . . We really wanted to have a place where artists like us who have intersectional identities, but also other artists, could showcase their work and products and have them made accessible to people,” said Wang.
As the Creative Director of Muka, Wang curates the shop’s products and paints the broader vision for the brand while Fu is charge of operations and logistics of the business. Wang’s husband Song photographs all the products and Fu’s wife Tang is the designer. Together, they built Muka on a foundation of strong friendship, family, love and teamwork.
Muka is also a story of allyship. As a cis, heterosexual couple, Wang and Song learned a lot about allyship through running the business with Fu and Tang. Through open dialogue with each other and the community about what it means to be an ally, they were able to learn, grow and explore complex topics of intersectionality and queer experiences together.
“It’s a journey of constant learning. . .The point [of allyship] is that everybody comes to the table with love for each other,” said Wang.
Wang understands the value of listening in cultivating allyship and community.
“For me, growing up as a straight person, there are a lot of things I take for granted. I grew up in an Asian household and so did Alexis and Anita but their experiences as queer people in an Asian household are very different, so it’s always good to listen to the stories because everyone’s got a different path—everyone’s different. Queer people aren’t monoliths just as how Asian people aren’t monoliths,” explained Wang.
It comes with no surprise their messages of inclusivity, love and community have resonated with many folks. The positive response from the community fuels their motivation to work harder.
“The number one thing that encourages us to keeping going is people’s reaction to us—[from] events or messages customers leave online—because, based on what the customers are telling us, there really isn’t a business that’s quite like ours,” said Wang.
Muka’s next collection will feature themes of fruits, a slur the queer community has been reclaiming, and flowers, particularly peony and chrysanthemum which are connected to Asian culture. The collection is still underway; however, Wang hopes it will be ready by spring or summer.
Muka is personal, intersectional and unique. Whether you are part of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community or learning to become a better ally, the messages about confidence, self-love and love for others promote by Muka are universal.
“The most important ingredient is love for yourself and love for others. . .The other thing I think is pretty important is always learning and trying to understand because the world is always changing and people are complex and so there’s always more to learn about ourselves and each other,” said Wang.