Innovation in art: behind the locally manufactured Jeju paints

Written by: Muram Shaheen

“I feel I’m more than an artist. I’m an instructor, influencer, and motivational artist. I have had this artistic sense from an early age, and I’ve always been interested in handcrafts, handmade arts, and fine arts in general.” Nisreen Mahmoud, artist, entrepreneur and founder of Jeju paints – a local business focused on manufacturing paints for fabrics and art in general – as we spoke to her at Bait Alnisa about her brand, innovative business idea, and her inspirations. 

Nisreen mentions that being an artist has positively affected her brand while her personality and artistic background have directly influenced Jeju paints. She chooses colors based on her needs, personal preferences in fabric paints and it grew to be based on the needs of artists and the different surfaces they use. Nisreen studied civil engineering and had no formal training in arts. However, she says that civil engineering and its educational content added a lot to her personality and helped her to be the person she is today.

She established Nisreen Craft Academy in 2005 with the mission: “Every woman should have a handcraft skill that she can turn into a small business from her home”. Nisreen has trained over 8,000 young woman in Sudan.

How did it all start? 

Honestly, Jeju colors started with the decision to start a training and workshops center, that was back in the year 2000, I was still a freshman student. All activities since then were accumulative for me to create a model suitable for Sudanese women to start a business from home, which was one of the main things that prompted my brand. I knew that colors are essential for all handmade crafts that women sell from home, I’ve spotted the real need in the market and worked towards it.

What challenges did you face? 

I have had this idea since 2010. I wanted to obtain authorization from a manufacturer, but I wasn’t lucky at first. I gave it a second try in 2015, and it wasn’t a success either. In 2019 I tried to get the authorization for the third time, but I couldn’t. That was when I decided to create the colors here, to manufacture them locally with the available raw materials. I decided I was going to do it with what I had.

How was the process? 

I’m self-taught, I was dedicated to taking in knowledge from everyone who can benefit me in chemical engineering, base material production, I took knowledge from experts and researchers, and I tried and tried and tried until I produced my first batch of paint that was the result of over 60 experimental packs to specify the quality, the texture, density and how the color flows. I always test the paints with the assistant of artists for honest feedback. The challenge lies in creating a local product with high quality.

Can you walk us through the manufacturing process of Jeju Colors?

The colors are manufactured in several stages. The raw base of paint is manufactured with distinctive qualities and specifications according to Jeju color specifications, in a factory located in Khartoum Industrial Area. 

Other stages take place inside Jeju colors labs inside Nasreen Craft Academy due to the need for unique and specific raw materials.

Lastly, the packaging is done manually inside our labs.

Where do you aspire to reach? 

I aspire every artist in Sudan to have Jeju paints as their favorite color brand. Jeju colors quality is of an international standard, it may even have an advantage of the quantity and the package size, and it is constantly developing based on artists’ feedback.

Growing, I aspire that Jeju is in every craft house in Sudan and directly involved in activities for children in schools and all social events. I dream that Jeju becomes a sponsor for paints in all fine arts colleges around Sudan. I aspire to grow and supply the demands of all paint products in Sudan.

Entrepreneurs like Nisreen are the ones on a mission to elevate the scene and the local industry in Sudan. Powered by passion, her works stems from her desire to enrich the market and provide high quality, locally produced paints.

Find out more about Nisreen and her business at Jeju Paints Sudan.

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