Kula Project invests in the dreams and businesses of families in East Africa.
I love being a creative partner with Kula Project. I am about to embark on my third trip to Rwanda in the past two years, so they recently asked me WHY as part of their Five Questions series.
When you support my store, you're also supporting my work with them. You can purchase a print I made for them and find out more about what they do here: www.kulaproject.org.
Five Questions with Ali Makes Things
Tell us about yourself!
I’m Ali, a multi-disciplinary artist behind Ali Makes Things. Big fan of lime LaCroix, cross-country road trips, true crime podcasts, and kickboxing. I grew up in Northern California and now split my time between ATL and Santa Barbara. Art is powerful and I believe making things with meaning changes our world, which is why I do what I do.
What was it about kula that you connected with?
Two big influences: coffee and farming.
One of my best friends owned a coffee shop when we were in our early 20s. I was lucky enough to be surrounded by humble and super talented coffee professionals who knew their stuff, and truly valued educating others about GOOD coffee. Their love for quality coffee, from the farm to cup fascinated me. For never working in coffee myself, I knew about obscure things like how a washing station could change a coffee-farming community.
Two, my dad is a farmer. I have witnessed the backbreaking hard labor that farming entails, and I could not have more respect for those who cultivate our earth and create life from it.
That said, even if I didn’t have a background in those things, I’d still be invested. Kula and I have shared the same 20x10 foot office in Cabbagetown for the last three years. In that time, I’ve had a front row seat to the process, progress, challenges, change and stories of their community. I loved the way they spoke about the people behind their partnerships. I loved that dignity and hope were the consistent threads. I feel like the team member they never had to hire and who won’t go away. ;)
You’re about to go to Rwanda for the third time in two years. Tell us one of your favorite memories and why you continue to go back.
I have so many incredible memories there- the jubilant celebrations, drinking the most delicious fresh coffee while basically IN the fields, learning how to ride a boda, seeing the building of the washing station and the opening of the Liddy Center- but my favorite memories are the smaller, quieter ones. We are often greeted with a sincere “You are welcome here.” One trip, we focused on asking about peace. The responses we received were so simple and so astounding. These men and women have taught me more about forgiveness, love, hospitality, and peace than I can do justice explaining. Candidly, I learn there. I am inspired there.
Being a creative, you must be asked all the time to do projects for nonprofits: why do you think it’s important to give back/how do you choose who to work with?
A big part of my business philosophy is choosing to work with people whose projects I think are changing the world. My background is actually in churches and the nonprofits; I find a lot of personal and professional purpose in trying to make our world a better place. But as I became more involved in these kinds of projects, and more attune to my own giftings, I realized I just wasn’t going to be the down and dirty, longterm person committed to one project, one neighborhood, one cause forever. AND I realized that was okay, even better that way. I discovered there was a need for good creative design, clever marketing, and fresh ideas within non-profits and that my skills and platform can complement the work they were doing and introduce new connections and supporters at the same time. I love that I get to play a tiny role in more projects and organizations than I can recall who are doing their best work to change our world. Those are the projects that get me out of bed in the morning and give me the most fulfillment.
People wouldn’t normally see a link between lettering and empowering women in Rwanda. Explain why you do.
Words are powerful. Art is powerful. Lettering is a marriage of these things. This is the driving force and philosophy behind my work. I believe I can be a bridge. If I’m doing my best work, my letters will give life and emotion to the projects I work with. I want to visually catch the viewer’s eye, draw them in, and then surprise them with solid world-changing content that invites them into a bigger story. I want to use my space in the world to jumpstart honest conversations and amplify the voices of those who have been marginalized to connect them with others in the name of purpose and love.
If there was one thing you want people to know about Kula, what would it be?
They’re the real deal, yall. I share an office with them in Atlanta, but half of their hearts will forever live halfway around the world.