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Student launches art business for poor communities

Sakina Nathoo, a freshman elementary and special education major, has created an art business set on donating a majority of the proceeds to impoverished communities around the world.

Nathoo decided to make a change after witnessing firsthand the lives of those residing in impoverished communities.

“I just feel there’s so much suffering around the world, and here we are going to an incredible university to get a great education and having homes to sleep in, food on our plates, clothes on our backs, family by our side,” Nathoo said. “We take these things for granted when in reality they are all blessings that not everyone has.”

She added, “I have always loved creating artwork, and so I feel it’s the least I can do to do something I love and use it to help the cause.”

Her business, which started in June 2019, has teamed up with a charity organization called ComfortAid. According to Nathoo, the charity travels abroad to countries like Yemen, Kenya and Pakistan, to build homes, orphanages and schools for impoverished communities.

Jillian Cancela/Asst. Photography Editor
Nathoo launched an art business to support a charity that builds homes, orphanages and schools in impoverished communities.

“Art by Sakina” sells a variety of customized paintings, cards and calligraphy. Nathoo explained that most paintings are usually done on canvases, but she has also received orders to be done on wood. She said her goals for the future include plans to sell painted phone cases, laptop cases, shoes and apparel.

She said all her work is customizable and that customers are allowed to specify things they want like the material, colors and dimensions. She said that since the work is all custom-made, it has allowed her to develop time management skills.

“Since the artwork is custom-made, and sometimes ordered close to the date it needs to be completed, I have to balance working on the artwork and finishing the project with getting my schoolwork and other work done,” Nathoo said.

However, despite the obstacles, her passion for art and helping others was a driving force for Nathoo to continue her business.

“I have a passion for art, so when I get an order, I actually get really excited because I get to work on a whole new project,” Nathoo said. “Usually the customer gets really excited too because they receive custom artwork and support a good cause.”

Shania Vincent, a sophomore diplomacy and international relations major, describes the artwork she bought for her boyfriend for Christmas.

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“I bought an art piece that depicted a sunset and mountains with stars in the sky and a couple holding hands on top of the mountain with a meaningful quote at the bottom,” Vincent said. “The price was great for the work she did.”

She added, “I think it is a beautiful thing that she is doing in donating her proceeds. It speaks to what a kind and genuine soul she is.”

To market her business, Nathoo has found success in advertising her business through word of mouth and group chats. However, she has found that her Instagram account @artbysakinaa to be the most beneficial tool in growing her business.

She has also created a website,, which she said will professionally help her market her business and help her reach customers of all ages.

Santiago Cabrera, a sophomore economics and finance major, found out about Nathoo’s business through a GroupMe group chat. After seeing her work, he decided to order from her.

“Naturally, I looked at her Instagram profile and saw how talented she was,” Cabrera said. “So I decided to ask her about it. I had been looking for a while for an art piece of my city to hang in my bedroom, but the prices were completely inaccessible.”

He added that the prices and the ability to customize the item, like the size of the product, and her dedication in providing a product that matched his vision is something that he appreciated.

Nathoo said, “I truly love working on these projects and orders from customers, so in the next five years, my goal is to still be taking custom orders from clients for paintings, cards and much more, and still be donating the proceeds to help the orphans around the world.”

Nicholas Hernandez can be reached at


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