This Warsaw-based company is giving the world clean water, one mug at a time
By Lauren Caggiano | Input Fort Wayne
Luke Wright is on a mission to get people to love a little deeper.
As the founder and director of vision and strategy of MudLOVE in Warsaw, he does that through an unlikely type of consumer goods—handmade ceramic bracelets, mugs, and more. Every product purchased provides one week of clean water to someone in need, thanks to the work of Water for Good.
“(W)e exist to put love into action,” Wright says. “We have a product whereby you can encourage people.”
According to Wright, that encouragement happens on multiple levels. He has carved out a niche in handmade ceramics by putting inspirational phrases or words on many MudLOVE products, which makes them instruments of goodwill and ideal gifts.
In turn, each purchase helps someone in the Central African Republic, which Wright notes is among the poorest countries on the planet.
But while MudLOVE has contributed nearly half a million dollars to the cause to date, it started from humble beginnings.
Wright has been an artist since childhood, and he felt especially drawn to working with clay as an outlet during a challenging time.
“Art was the thing that brought me out of that (low point),” he says.
Later, after graduating from Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana, he once again felt drawn to the creative arts. He was doing construction work for the family business while working in the art studio at night. But he felt he had a deeper calling in life.
“God spoke to me and said ‘deny yourself of this pursuit,'” he says. “(And I thought), what does this mean to me?”
Wright says he met a missionary focused on clean water projects during this pivotal time, who encouraged him to marry his love of art with a greater purpose.
“I always wanted a product people could relate to or connect to,” he says.
And so he set out to create just that. The year was 2009 when things really started to take off in a tiny garage in Winona Lake---of all places.
With nothing more than an old stamp set, a box of clay, and a plan to support clean water projects in Africa, MudLOVE was born.
Wright started with bracelets and then gradually added mugs to his product line. Today, they carry a wide range of items, including candles and even a few second-hand items.
As a business, MudLOVE is an example of what can happen when you integrate social impact with entrepreneurship. Its distribution channels include a retail storefront, an e-commerce website, and about 1,000 retailers across the country.
The products are essential, Wright says, but it’s always been and will forever be about the people.
He employs about 50 people, many of whom are artisans in northeast Indiana.
While the business has grown, the artist-turned-businessman has not lost sight of his roots. He says Winona Lake and Warsaw have supported him, and he doesn’t take that lightly. He’s also grateful for a loyal following of customers, who often request custom or personalized gifts.
Looking to the future, he sees his products as a means to an end.
“I want to be a light in the world and go against the grain," Wright says. “Money is just a tool for us to continue our mission. No matter the state of our business, we'll continue to give back.”