Story by Clara Pitt
Magogodi is the co-founder of KYNDRED, an organization designed to help women jump-start and maintain a creative practice and community. She is a writer from South Africa, now based in New York. The Power Thread sat down with her at a charming cafe in NoMad called Maman. Magogodi strode into the cafe rocking a white dress and stunning jewelry. She spoke in a soothing, crisp tone. Each word she uttered felt significant and was quite thoughtful.
Where did you grow up, and how did creativity become a part of your life?
I was born in Soweto, South Africa, and I moved to the States alone when I was 17. I first went to California and then I went to undergraduate school in Pennsylvania, where I studied International Business. Eventually, I moved to New York for graduate school at NYU, where I was a Fellow for Social Entrepreneurship.
I co-founded a company while at NYU that helped high potential social entrepreneurs working in Africa to scale their businesses. After I graduated, I continued to work on the business and to consult.
I was always seeking creativity. I felt the best and the most authentic when I was writing, but it took me a while to realize that I could have a writing career.
I was working on a project in Rwanda for a while and, when I came home, I got very sick. I had to stop working and give myself a break. The only thing that made me feel alive during that hard time was writing. I was very privileged that I had a partner who was very supportive. I wrote my way back to health. Ultimately, I walked away from the company I built, and I decided to find a path that was better suited for me.
“Creativity is part of any purposeful life… Creativity lets us tap into our inner transcendence and beauty. Try living through our current crazy times without a regular dose of joy and beauty…no thank you!.”
How was KYNDRED born?
I co-founded KYNDRED with Cosmo Fujiyama Ghaznavi in Spring of 2019. Cosmo and I met at NYU; we were both social entrepreneurship fellows. I had a job in Cape Town, South Africa, until this past February. Cosmo and I talked constantly while I was in South Africa about our life experiences, societal pressures on women, and how we were feeling unaligned with our values. I quit the gig and came back to New York. I was hungry for something different, something that spoke to me and my life experiences. I love working with Cosmo. I love how her mind works. It feels like a big win just working with someone I love and admire.
What is your vision for KYNDRED?
The essential premise of KYNDRED is to make it simple and seamless for women to jump start their creativity. We want to create a platform that helps women realize their big creative dreams and that connects them with a community of other creatives. We are all born creative. But, somewhere along the line, some people have their creativity suppressed, and they start to believe creativity is for other people. Through KYNDRED, we’re building digital tools, experiences, and community that help people rekindle their innate creativity. Why? Because creativity is part of any purposeful life. And because creativity lets us tap into our inner transcendence and beauty. Try living through our current crazy times without a regular dose of joy and beauty…no thank you!
Who is KYNDRED for?
KYNDRED is a female driven community. It is for all types of creatives: people who have creative dreams that they don’t know how to begin and people who are already working on projects but are looking for a creative community. We want to make it safe and okay for people to explore creativity without leaving their day job.
What does KYNDRED look like today, and what is in store for the future?
Right now, we are building digital tools and experiences. We currently have a newsletter that features a topical essay, which I write weekly, and practical tips about how to get started with creative projects. We’ll be testing our beta product this fall with folks who are already in our community and getting our newsletter or following us on social media, @wearekyndred.
We think that the digital tools are important, but they will never replace live, in-person encounters. That is why we are building KYNDRED to have both aspects. Live interactions are only going to get more precious as technology continues to grow. People are already hungry for community and belonging. We are invested in designing experiences that deepen authentic human connection. We are creating a beloved community, where women can realize their biggest creative dreams and feel seen and heard.
We’re doing for creativity what companies like Headspace have done for mindfulness. As a culture, we didn’t know what mindfulness was or why it’s important seven years ago. Now, many people have a favorite meditation and mindfulness routine baked into their day. No one is telling you to quit your job so you can become mindful. Why don’t we think the same way about creativity? Why is it either become a starving writer or practice law? Why can’t that lawyer also have a satisfying creative life?
“I feel empowered by the work that I do in my writing life. I tell the stories of marginalized, often dehumanized black people. I find that these stories push me to understand where I stand in history.”
What makes you feel powerful?
Wow, so many things! Women make me feel powerful. The story of the woman who birthed me empowers me. Listening to my mother speak on the phone makes me feel powerful.
I feel empowered by the work that I do in my writing life. I tell the stories of marginalized, often dehumanized black people. I find that these stories push me to understand where I stand in history.
I come from a people who have been oppressed for 400 years. The fact that we are still standing makes me feel empowered every single day.
And, of course, a good outfit makes me feel powerful. I love dressing up. If I feel like myself in an outfit, something with a really good cut, I feel more empowered to conquer whatever I put my mind to.