How Immigration Shapes People and Communities:
The KUFUKAA Story
Every weave. Every thread stitched—every detail matters. Anita Koul, who was born in India, founded KUFUKAA, a Kansas City-based artesian goods company. KUFUKAA provides a platform for artisans that produce handicrafts from different parts of the globe. "The things in which they are producing are incredible. It appeals to an international audience," said Koul. 'KUFUKAA' is a Swahili word that means 'evolve' in English, showcasing their ability to make unique and exquisite designs. Using a variety of materials that are unique to the region, the handicraft is made. "Our mission is to promote a sustainable environment for future generations," said Koul. Showcasing people's work from even remote areas of the globe is what is satisfying for Koul.
Her target audience?
"Everyone and anyone who believes in the potential of art and artists that changes the world for good. Those who value handmade art and those who know how to appreciate these artisans. Those who believe in sustainability and organic products," said Koul. They are presenting handicrafts to the world by a company managed here in Kansas City. Humans are shown to have a unique relationship with handicrafts. Products that are made not from a factory or by machinery but by human hands create a meaningful emotion that a particular product was made with such care.
Visiting Koul's website provides clues as to what the company's clear goals are.
A focus on sustainability.
The importance of showcasing and selling sustainable products is incredibly important for KUFUKAA. "We have a fortune for creating experiences that re-imagine the way people consume. We owe it to our planet to build a more sustainable world. Sustainability is the fabric of our culture and framework for all the decisions we make within these walls. We believe in aesthetics that complement ethics and stand up for values that integrate humanity to do well for the planet. From recyclable home decor to hand-woven scarves, the very essence of the art we sell is to promote authenticity, mindfulness, and appreciation for a green future," said Koul on the company's website. KUFUKAA provides a planet-conscious marketplace for consumers that enjoy handcrafted goods without compromising the planet's precious resources. To further her efforts, Koul even has her blog on the company's website. The blog promotes awareness about the risks climate change poses. "We want to produce an environment that their works of art will sustain," said Koul. With the understanding and promotion of experiences that KUFUKAA provides to both the consumer and the artisans. It all boils down to a critical force behind the effort, the people.
Putting people, the artists, first.
Koul seeks artists from even remote parts of the globe. "It is not only to reach artisans but also help people to get recognized on the international platform," said Koul. One big challenge is artisans aren't getting the attention and credibility they deserve. "Many artists from remote areas are losing their credibility and work because of big manufactures which are selling machine-made products and claim that those are handmade products; we have to help these artisans to get their due, we have to make these artisans visible to the world, and they must get acknowledged and appreciated what they are doing," said Koul. Showcasing the spirit and resilient nature of these artisans helps educate consumers from Kansas City to Taiwan to Egypt, Nigeria, and beyond. Koul is working to improve artisans' lives. One way involves using modern technology.
Application for artisans.
One long-term goal for Koul is to launch a messaging application for artisans. "The messaging app will help sellers to know how many orders they have. Once they ship that order, we can get the tracking number," said Koul. They are working with developers in Kansas City to launch an application that will allow communication and collaboration from Kansas City to the rest of the globe.
'We are working with the people.'
Koul believes in building deeply woven relationships with the artisans. Even with a language barrier, Koul can communicate. "Back in Taiwan, I have a friend named Josephine. She is helping me communicate with the sellers so they will become confident," said Koul. Relationships are robust even when people are thousands of miles away from each other. Koul is building relationships with other humans far away. But right here in Kansas City, she is creating a bridge for these humans. A bridge they cross that provides a platform for handicraft makers to showcase their talents while promoting sustainability for the planet. A feeling of empowerment that can be felt across the entire globe. It originates right here in the 'City of Fountains', Kansas City.