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We’ve connected with some incredible wedding professionals as of late and as part of our #vendorspotlight series, I’d like to introduce you to Megan Kitt, founder of Tuli. I got to know Megan as part of the Weddings Pros with a Purpose Facebook group when she collaborated with us on our #braggingbride contest a few months ago. Since then, I’ve gotten to know more about Megan and the amazing work she’s doing in Uganda, mentoring and inspiring Ugandan women to raise themselves and their families out of poverty through art and creativity. Please read below, and learn more about Tuli in Megan’s own words.
What does Tuli really do?
Our goal at Tuli is to end poverty through job creation and economic growth. We employ impoverished women in Uganda by selling their beautiful paper beaded jewelry to an international market. That way, rather than a handout from a traditional nonprofit, they have a job, and with it, a steady, sustainable source of income. With the money they earn, Tuli’s partners can provide for their immediate needs like food and shelter as well as their long-term needs, like education and savings accounts. Tuli empowers them to rise out of poverty for good.
But, we are simultaneously a fashion company, and that means we work tirelessly to ensure that Tuli’s products are fashion forward and of the highest quality. We have stringent quality control practices and make sure to source only the best materials for your product. Our goal is that, when you shop at Tuli, you get a fashion-forward product you love with a story and cause behind it that brings new meaning to your wardrobe. Our wedding collection is the perfect way for the socially conscious bride to add extra meaning to her big day.
What inspired Tuli?
I’ve always been interested in global development and poverty alleviation, and because of that, I’ve worked with and volunteered for a lot of nonprofits. Over the years, I realized one thing: They were always scrambling for donations. Then, when I visited Uganda, I realized another thing: For all the money that’s been poured into social programs in East Africa and beyond, poverty is still rampant. Clearly, something isn’t working. In talking with Ugandans, it became clear that what people really wanted was a job, and people would do anything to get one. I saw women in Uganda salvaging paper to turn into beaded jewelry, which they would take to the market and try in vain to sell. I knew that, if designed and marketed correctly, their products would sell in the US and beyond, so I worked with some local women to build a business and create jobs. And as for scrambling for donations? At Tuli, because we’ve built a desirable product, we don’t need to do that. We know our impact is sustainable, and we’re able to reinvest our profits into expanding the company and hiring more women in Uganda.
What social problem is Tuli trying to address?
We’re trying to end extreme poverty. Uganda’s unemployment rate is cripplingly high, and we’ve found that while most Ugandans are tenacious and eager to work, finding a job is extremely difficult. By selling Ugandan-made products overseas, we’re able to employ people in Kampala and boost the economy. We believe that the best way to end poverty is through economic development.
How has Tuli helped women specifically?
When we hire new artisans, their children are hungry and aren’t in school. They don’t have adequate medical care. They’re burdened by the weight of knowing that, not only are they without opportunity, but their children will be too. Once they come to work for us, though, everything changes. We work with our artisans to set wages for their work that are fair and that create the kind of income needed to support their families. To read about how one of our artisans, Evelyn, turned her life around through 18 months with Tuli, check out this blog post: http://bit.ly/evelyn-update
What do you find the most rewarding in your work?
Of course, watching the impact Tuli has in Uganda is incredibly rewarding. Traveling back to Kampala to visit our artisans and hearing about how Tuli has changed their lives is satisfying in a way I can’t begin to describe. But I think my favorite part is talking with our customers and watching them connect with Tuli and our partner artisans from thousands of miles away. Our customers tell me how satisfied they feel making a purchase they know is changing lives, and watching that connection and happiness is such an incredible feeling. It really connects the two worlds.