From the first time he picked up a camera while a student at Hilliard Darby High School, Hisham Muhidin knew he found a passion and something upon which he could build a career.
“I’d drive around looking for anything interesting, like maybe an abandoned building, and start shooting pictures,” said Muhidin, a 2008 Darby graduate. “Some people liked them and told other people, and it kind of went from there.”
The 23-year-old Hilliard resident, who is the 11th of 12 children, also has used photography and videography to make a better life for children living in villages near Likoni, Kenya, where he was born.
Muhidin owns Flick Image, a business that continues to grow in scope, while at the same time partnering in another business and a charitable foundation with his older brother, Mo, who is as much a surrogate father as a sibling.
“Our end goal is to help the children (in Kenya) and then other parts of Africa and then even other countries,” Muhidin said.
Muhidin credits Mo with envisioning and laying the groundwork for Kitamu Coffee Shop, 3221 Hilliard-Rome Road, which opened three years ago as a means to make money to help children in Kenya.
Kitamu (pronounced kee-TA-mu) is a Swahili word roughly translating to “delicious beyond expression,” a word that would be used to describe a succulent dessert or fine wine, Muhidin said.
At about the same time the brothers opened the shop they established the Ukuwa Foundation.
Teachers at a school in Likoni receive the money and materials donated by the foundation and manage it for area schools and children in nearby villages.
Ukuwa is a Swahili word roughly translating to “brotherhood,” but in the context of improving one another through partnerships and cooperation.
The inspiration for the coffee shop and the foundation came after a trip Mo Muhidin made to Africa.
He was alarmed by the large number of malnourished and hungry children and he resolved to do what he could to improve the lives of African children, Hisham Muhidin explained.
Muhidin helped his older brother with the coffee shop, he never stopped tinkering with cameras and the idea of a business related to it.
Muhidin visited local clubs and restaurants, taking casual and impromptu photographs of patrons, and posting, or “flicking,” the photographs online for short periods of time until new photographs replaced them.
That provided the name for his business: Flick Image.
But the endeavor has become more than about photography and videography, expanding into the production of such media as television commercials and music videos.
For example, he produced a video for rapper Mekka Don’s Juice that is played on the scoreboard at Ohio Stadium during football games this season.
Through his company, Muhidin also began managing and promoting musicians, recently signing recording artist DJ Corrupt and promoting a band called Walk the Moon.
Those musicians, and many others, perform at Kitamu Coffee Shop during an open-mic night every Saturday at 8 p.m.
“The music management evolved from the photography. I saw a lot of amazing and talented musicians who just didn’t have an outlet,” said Muhidin, who dabbles with playing the drums.
Muhidin and his 11 siblings moved to the United States after their father died. The family lived in Texas and Minnesota before coming to Hilliard, where some extended family members lived, when Muhidin was in the third grade.
His mother and two of his siblings have since died.
“I do a lot on my own now, but Mo is still my mentor ... and we both are grateful for what we have here,” Muhidin said. “Columbus will always be our home, but we do not forget where we came from.”