Meet Community Connector Aly Khalifa

From launching his own eco-shoe company Lyf to finding better ways to attach a water bottle to a bike, Aly Khalifa thrives on problem solving and inventive culture.

As the co-founder of Designbox, a collaborative workspace of creative professionals nestled among the tree tops in Raleigh’s Glenwood South District, he has helped launch products for some of the most exciting consumer brands in the world.

Beyond his entrepreneurial skills, he is also a community leader. In 2006 he founded SPARKcon with his wife Beth to address Raleigh’s murky cultural identity by showcasing and uniting the city’s creative talent.

SPARKcon is an open source, interdisciplinary creative festival held annually in Downtown Raleigh. It offers a platform for creative people to showcase their talents in 14 different categories (also known as sparks), including theater, dance, visual art, tech, film, fashion and literature.

Eight years ago, Khalifa turned over direction of SPARKcon to the Visual Art Exchange. What began as a modest event with just a few hundred attendees in Moore Square, has grown to the nation’s largest open source creative festival taking over Downtown Raleigh with over 80,000 festival goers.

“The best part about living here and working here is connecting with other people. Things like SPARKcon can’t happen in New York. They can’t happen in other places. They can only happen here where you have a community that is about taking chances, supporting each other and trying new things,” Khalifa said. “Community is the social fabric that allows us to thrive.”

Khalifa’s influence in the community goes far beyond SPARKcon. As a designer, creator, engineer, inventor, social entrepreneur and so much more, he is continually working to connect people and push new ideas into action on a local and global scale. Look out for more to come on Aly Khalifa in the coming weeks on

More Community Connectors

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Molly Goldston

Mike Phillips

Missed this year’s SPARKcon? Here’s a rundown.


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