Monday Muse: Kenyatta Forbes of Urban Macrame Fibers

Self-taught macrame artist and owner of Urban Macrame Fibers

How did you begin Urban Macrame Fibers?
In 2015, my condo flooded and had to be completely gutted. As I began to decorate after it was rebuilt, I saw some amazing macrame items at a vintage shop. Unfortunately the colors in the shop didn’t match my decor but I was intrigued. I started to research materials and patterns online so that I could create my own. I started out with 3 which still hang in my living room. Friends and family would come over and ask about them and I’d tell them I made them which then would lead to them asking for me to make items for them. A few months and orders later, Urban Macrame Fibers was born. Since it’s inception, my focus has been on collaborative work and community building. Within a year, I’ve developed collaborations makers and venue spaces across the city of Chicago.

What draws you to this art form?
I love the texture for sure. At any given moment I have around 50 different kinds of fiber on hand. They all provide a different vibe. I love the play of how decor, functionality, and design come together in macrame. Macrame creates a balance between objects. For instance, when I am designing a plant holder, I want the pot to compliment the macrame design and vice versa. It’s about bringing out the best qualities in each object.  

What is one of your favorite projects that you have worked on?
Hmm. I always feel like the most recent project I work on is my favorite. With that being said, I’m madly in love with my 3-tiered herb gardens which are a collaborative design with Rebuilding Exchange. As I move my work towards more functionality, I’ve started to bring in more wood elements. I truly enjoy helping to bring green into the home.  

We love Chicago! Who are some of your favorite female creatives in this city?
I love Chicago too! Favorites? There are so many! Joslyn Villalpando of J. Villa Workshop for her amazing weavings and commitment to community. Kelly Doodeman of Verdant Matter for her moon pots! Autumn Merritt of Sir & Madam for her amazing creative instincts and business savvy. Liz and Moe of Scratch Goods for their yummy food grade skin care products. Liz Klafeta of Bangtel for her stellar decorating sense! Emily Nejad of Bon Vivant Cakes for her cakes are amazingly designed and delicious. Jamie Tubbs of Prophet Gypsy Robot for her amazing weaves. Anna Michal Paul for her killer chalk board work! Astral Riles who makes gorgeous wall hangings.  

How do you get through the struggles of having your own business?
I can honestly say I’ve been very lucky to have had a pretty positive experience thus far as a business owner. I find macrame to be extremely relaxing and meditative in practice. Since I approach macrame from a hobby and community perspective, it’s still a solid source of joy. When there are glitches in the plan, I definitely turn to friends, other makers, and macrame get me through. Being able to lean on other entrepreneurs in the making space is so vital when making decision on what’s best for your brand. It’s also necessary to be able to lean on friends when you have to cut massive amounts of rope!