Amirah Means Shares How Carpentry Brought Her Joy: ‘I’d Been Denying My True Passion’

After a career pivot, the creator launched A+ Wood Dezigns to design custom playhouses that leave children speechless!

Amirah Means of A+ Wood Dezigns (Interview)
Photo courtesy of Amirah Means

Amirah Means fell in love with building and design in her youth, but it wasn’t until she turned to prayer in her adulthood that she realized it was her calling. 

“I’ve always wanted to work with my hands; however, I went to a religious-based school, and they didn’t have many extracurricular programs,” Means tells BrownStyle Magazine about her early days. “During my high school year, my school introduced an engineering program. At the time, I didn’t know much about engineering, but I learned quickly. Our club joined The National Society of Black Engineers and began competing in robotics competitions. I was the mechanical engineer of the team, so I was the person who built the robot. I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Even with limited access to trades, Means always found herself drawn to hands-on projects. The Texas based entrepreneur fondly remembers sneaking into her father’s garage as a child to find tools to take her toys apart and put them back together. 

“I’ll never forget hurrying downstairs to put his screwdrivers back when he was looking everywhere to find them. Meanwhile, they were in my toy bin,” Means shares with a chuckle. “As I got older, and the focus became education, I forgot about that part of me.”

Amirah Means of A+ Wood Dezigns (Interview)
Photo courtesy of Amirah Means

Growing up, Means recalls always hearing about the financial success of doctors, lawyers, and engineers. This ultimately inspired her to graduate high school at 15 and pursue a college degree at Prairie View A&M University. While studying Mechanical Engineering at Prairie View, the college student found herself in need of a pivot. 

“During the pandemic, I took time to sit with myself and figure out my purpose. I spoke with God and asked Him to give me guidance and direction because the degree I was seeking didn’t feel like me. After four years of pursuing a degree in Mechanical Engineering, I realized it didn’t fulfill me,” the 24-year-old explains. “In March of 2020, I began a deep soul search to find out why I felt lost. As I prayed and studied, I went back to the little girl who always wanted to use a hammer and a screwdriver. I realized I’d been denying my true passion to build and create. I immediately started researching about carpentry and woodworking.”

As a passionate carpenter who’s accumulated loyal followers on Instagram by highlighting her work, Means wishes she had known about trade schools in her early days. 

“I never knew much about trades. It wasn’t until I had a vision of building playhouses that I was reminded of the dreams of my younger self,” she reflects. “I’ll never forget my first day of carpentry class. I fell in complete love. It felt like I finally found the joy I’d been searching for in my adulthood.”

Leaving college behind, Means discovered an introductory Carpentry program at Lone Star College. “Although I was sad and nervous to leave Prairie View University— especially because everyone expected me to graduate—I had to follow my heart. Once I discovered my passion for carpentry that was my new focus and my new drive!”

Building Her Soulful Soft Life

Discovering her passion for carpentry led Means to start her carpentry and woodworking business, A+ Wood Dezigns. Servicing Texas, the company specializes in building unique playhouses, clubhouses, stylish sheds, and pet homes.

“’Living a ‘Soulful Soft Life’ means doing what you love and finding joy and gratitude in everything,” she explains when asked our signature question. “Building and design is my passion and purpose.”

Her Inspiration

The carpenter says she particularly loves working on projects for children because it allows her to tap into her youthful bliss.

“This business lets me embrace my inner child. As an adult, my heart still lights up when I see miniature things made for children because it’s so cute. I’ve always loved toys and creating my own world,” she shares about her decision to make eco-friendly playhouses.

Means describes her design style as modern and fun. “I aim to evoke the magic children feel at places like Disney World. Creativity, wonder, and a touch of fantasy define my designs,” she cheerfully shares. “I aim to create a unique space in the carpentry field that inspires women and girls like myself.”

She continues, “I truly believe my playhouses can get children back outdoors. I also think my designs will contribute to making priceless childhood memories that are so important to human development. Play is a huge contributing factor when it comes to a child’s health and development. Research shows play can improve children’s abilities to socialize, relieve stress, organize, think, and increase emotional intelligence. I believe in the power of play, and with these playhouses, I hope to help expand children’s imaginations and spread joy to their everyday life.”

Designing Her Next Chapter 

Earlier in the year, Means went viral when she posted a heartwarming Instagram video showing the moment she presented one of her client’s children with a bright pink Barbie-inspired playhouse. Let’s just say the little one was adorably speechless!

“The Barbie playhouse was the very first playhouse I built. Despite moments of doubt, completing the playhouse affirmed my abilities and marked the beginning of many more projects to come,” she notes with joy and gratitude.

This ultimately inspired her to continue posting her creations on Instagram. “I am very passionate about creating an ‘each one, teach one environment’ and giving our people opportunities to learn new knowledge and skills that can spark their passion and purpose. My mission is to reintroduce trades into the educational curriculum through hands-on workshops and apprenticeship programs, creating opportunities and empowering our community to make a living for themselves with their skills.”

In April 2023, Means hosted her first workshop, called The Hand Tools Vs Power Tools Workshop. According to the designer, it garnered an enthusiastic response. “Witnessing participants gain confidence and skills was immensely rewarding. Hosting workshops and sharing knowledge on social media allows me to pass on my skills and inspire others,” she expresses.

“When you tap into your unique gifts and use them for the greater good, life makes sense, and you live a life full of soul,” she concludes. 

Editor’s Note: This story has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Tweety Elitou is not new to the publishing world. Nurtured by parents who are authors and publishers, the Philadelphia native began her career as a fashion writer at the age of 13. As the former Sr. Lifestyle Editor of BET, Tweety was a key player in expanding the audience and reshaping the lifestyle vertical on the brand’s website. After working for notable media brands, the editor took some time off to enjoy the peace and pleasure of self-care and soft living. It was during this period that BrownStyle Magazine was created.