Pictured above: Ali Hale in a t-shirt design from her Kind Collective collection, and using our virtual dressing room to try on our Frida Kahlo inspired necktie, titled 'The Mexican Icon'.
Ali Hale is a designer and art director living in Providence, RI. She founded The Kind Collective in 2019, with a mission of raising funds and awareness for women's safety and development by creating and curating advocacy apparel, art, and accessories by female artists and designers.
After months of girl crushing on Ali's brand and mission, we reached out to partner on a giveaway this Mother's Day!
You can win a t-shirt from The Kind Collective and a necktie from us! To enter, it's as easy as following both brands on instagram and tagging some friends. Easy peasy! The giveaway will run from Thurs., April 30 - Sat., May 2.
Now Meet Ali!
Tell us about yourself and your background, what were you doing before you started The Kind Collective? And what inspired you to start this brand?
I started my career as a graphic designer back in 2008, when I graduated from Mass College of Art + Design in Boston. Over the years, I worked for a variety of creative agencies and studios, focusing mainly on brand identity. I've always been passionate about art and design. It runs in my family - my grandmother was an amazing artist, as was my uncle, who I owe every creative bone in my body to. He passed away from AIDS, and when that happened, it filled me with rage that his death was in part because he was an openly gay man when it was unpopular to say so, and that he was extremely marginalized, abused, underserved, and shunned because of it.
At the time, I didn't know how to channel my anger, aside from working. I thought about how I could use my skillset to help others in need for years, without it manifesting into anything real. It was frustrating and confusing, but I continued to hone my craft, and learn all that I could about business from work. About 8 years ago, my longtime partner and I started a family. He was way more suited to stay home and raise our children, so I kept on designing - out of necessity, rather than out of passion some days! I swear, I could write a book on what it's like to be a career creative at this point. I've certainly put in a lot of time working at a job I hated for stable income to support our now family of four.
Flash forward to today, I am the Head of Design at Joss & Main, and I run The Kind Collective from my home, in Providence, RI. I started the Kind Collective in November 2019, after deciding to shift my focus from my previous shop, Babes Against Bull.
Babes was great for a long time, but the climate of our country is so polarizing at this point, and it was getting really hard to face everyday in the same capacity that I once could. I was receiving messages (mainly from men) trolling me and telling me feminism is cancer, spewing Trump rhetoric, and hate language toward anything I put out there. It turned into a space where I was just as angry everyday as I was when I was younger. I was using anger to fight back, and that was counterproductive.
I shifted focus to The Kind Collective, where I could still use my design skills, but truly keep the focus on something good. We pledge to donate a percentage of our annual profits to Futures Without Violence, an organization with numerous resources and programs that support women, children and families in crisis. They also promote and support the fact that engaging men is a critical part of ending violence against women.
How do you choose the women / designers featured? What’s the process for the collaboration?
This is my favorite part. I spend a lot of time here. I've managed a few teams of designers over the years, and they've all always told me that I'm the biggest hype woman. Ha! But I guess it's true! I am obsessed with looking at other people's work, in awe by unique forms of creativity, and really just want to be that hype woman for as many women as possible.
In my experience, women in the creative field often contribute their success to someone else – I hear a lot of things like, "Thanks but I was lucky!" or, "I had so much help!" – and I really just want to be there to let them know that it is their talent alone that convinced me to reach out to them, without knowing anything about the situation that got them to the end result.
Now that we are all home for the near future, I have been all over portfolio sites, dribbble, and Instagram to find new artists that might be a good fit. I find so much joy and endless inspiration through this process. To be honest, sometimes I see an illustration and it's as simple as telling the artist about The Kind Collective, and asking if they want to be a contributor. More often than not, we work together to create something new. When an artist and I decide that our partnership is going to be a good fit, we have a conversation about a message they'd like to put out into the world, and we work together to create it.
In the future, I would love to host open submissions for work based on a theme – example: climate change – ready, set, go! Until then, I will continue to 'go out' and meet designers and artists one on one. I love it. I've met so many kind, talented women over the past 5 months, it totally fuels my fire.
What strategy/strategies do you use to build your brand identity and awareness?
Honestly, I am taking it slow with The Kind Collective. As a creative I've struggled with focus my whole life - so many ideas, so little time! - could have been the title of a few chapters of my life. My strategy right now however is to keep my focus on one thing - and that thing is to amplify female artists and designers with the intent of funding women's development aid. All else comes second right now. I'm looking to slowly build this community with intent and focus. Right now, I do not feel rushed to build something fast, but I want to build something really good.
How do you engage your community and following?
I try my best to be real. (Reading this back, that is the lamest sentence I've ever written!) Ha! But really, just because we promote nonviolence, doesn't mean we are all sunshine and rainbows everyday. A big part of the creative process is overcoming a struggle. It's creative problem solving. You'll see that in my correspondence with our community. Some days, I am feeling completely inspired, and am producing something great - while other days ... ugh. I try hard not to hide those days, even though it's probably unpopular. I like to think that with all of the messaging today that is super upbeat, happy happy happy, this is fine, we can be a little more real than that.
What's been most surprising/challenging for you during the process of starting a business and growing it? How have you overcome these challenges/obstacles?
I think the most challenging part of starting a business is sticking with it. We are constantly weighing the options of our next move, and if it will be worth it to put out into the world. Will anyone care? Will anyone notice? The internet is a very big place, and there is a constant push to try to be the loudest one in the room. Social media is a blessing and a curse, right? It feels very extreme. That just isn't The Kind Collective. But it is a real challenge to not feed into it and stay the course. I try to keep focused on our work, and what's next and right for us, rather than become obsessed with how many 'likes' other brands are getting. Likes do not equal sales. Likes do not equal your value or your impact. If that is what you are chasing, you are going to get bummed out real quick.
A portion of the proceeds are donated to Futures Without Violence, can you share why this organization is important to you?
As an organization, Futures Without Violence has really been consistent in their fight for nonviolence for over 30 years. They not only provide resources for families in horrific situations, but they also work with corporate organizations and community leaders across the country to develop training programs to make their communities stronger. They do this through programs that educate men on their role in ending violence toward women, and really instilling a message about the importance of respect and how to build healthy relationships.
Anything new on the horizon?
Why, yes! This summer, we will be launching a children's line, called Kind Kids. We are partnering with an amazing organization called Kids for Peace, more to come here very soon, but I'm so incredibly excited.
Like us at andieanderin, you are a mother and have a full-time job, what helps you stay organized and motivated to keep up with it all?
This is true! I have a full-time role at Joss & Main as the Head of Design, and I am SO honored to be in the presence of such inspiring women in leadership there. I have to thank my community there for the support to balance everything. The GM, CMO, top strategists, and many other business and creative leads are women. Women with children. Women who are the sole breadwinner for their family. Women who balance work, home, and then some. Women with amazingly rich lives outside of the office. If they can do it, so can I.
We struggle together, share ideas, laugh, vent, cheer each other on, and even fail sometimes. I am incredibly privileged to belong to a community of superwomen. And this is the special sauce - they even encourage taking a break. Even just this week, I decided to take time for myself to be with the family - uninterrupted - and destress. I didn't quite know what was up with me, but I was feeling intense anxiety about everything going on with the virus, the president, and how it all affects our families. Families like ours, families not like ours.
All of this to say, I guess sometimes I just plain don't keep up with it all, and that's okay.
Meet Ali's new brand The Kind Collective online and through instagram.