Krochet Kids International: Using Fashion To Break the Cycle of Poverty
The greatest legacies are often built from humble beginnings. This storyline rings true of world-changing social enterprise Krochet Kids intl. and their journey to disrupting the cycle of poverty through the art of crocheting. Co-founders and friends Kohl Crecelius, Stewart Ramsey, and Travis Hartanov, used their high-school hobby of crocheting beanies to establish a business model in 2007 that, to this day, empowers sustainable employment and training for over 150 artisans in Uganda and Peru.
The team at Krochet Kids employs women in both countries and commits to training them in crocheting, while also providing an education in business, finance, and management. Through mentorship and a fair wage, artisans are given the resources necessary to establish independence and successful futures for themselves and their families. Krochet Kids is also an industry leader in connecting consumers to the artisans that make their products in a meaningful way. Each product, from beanies to apparel, has the “Know Who Made It” tag with the signature of the artisan who handmade the item. With a decade of experience, Krochet Kids is creating a culture where the stories behind our clothing matter and where purchases have the power to enable freedom.
This year KK intl. is partnering with Dressember in the fight against modern-day slavery and providing some amazing swag bag incentives to the team with the most raised per team member. Advocating for a cause, however, is not a new endeavor for KK intl. -- everyday, their work as a social enterprise uses the power of fashion to target the issue of poverty in ways that are reshaping the future for many women. Today we are chatting with Kohl on the legacy of KK intl., the future ahead and the mission of connecting consumers to artisans around the world.
Krochet Kids intl. celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. That’s a major milestone! In what ways have you seen the impact and reach of KK intl. grow in the last decade?
Thank you! We are entirely humbled by this milestone and achieve it with sincere gratitude for all of the people who have helped to get us this far. In that way we’ve seen the impact happen here at home as well as abroad, however, our favorite representation of the success of our work is in the lives women who are changing the trajectory of their families and communities through the starting of businesses and careers beyond our employment services. Empowerment is happening in major ways and we are delighted to be a catalyst in this process.
Looking ahead at the next 5-10 years, what are some future goals for KK intl.?
Wow, big question. We like it. In the next decade of our work we will really be setting our sights on humanizing the apparel industry in a larger way. We feel that one of the greatest obstacles facing shoppers today is the disconnection from the actual people who make their clothing, and the lack of alternative options when purchasing. We have launched a new brand alongside Krochet Kids intl. to help make ethical apparel for all. Check it out here.
Krochet Kids intl. is different than many other social enterprises, as your business model focuses on teaching and providing a skill to artisans that enable them to eventually leave and become independent entrepreneurs. Why is this type of approach so valuable?
The graduation model was something we employed from an early stage of our work. Its importance to us has been captured in our belief that people are capable of accomplishing so much when they can explore their unique gifts and apply those to careers they are passionate about, sometimes that means vocations outside of our four walls and we think that’s great! Shout out to our non-profit partner CAPABLE for helping truly architect this model.
"We feel that one of the greatest obstacles facing shoppers today is the disconnection from the actual people who make their clothing, and the lack of alternative options when purchasing."
Is there a specific story regarding the success of one of your makers that stands out?
Our first official graduate from our programs in Uganda expresses the sentiment behind what this success looks like -- you can find her story here.
KK intl. goes to great lengths to connect consumers with the makers of each products. Why is this aspect of your organization so important?
This is EVERYTHING to us. Our belief is that you need to do all you can to create the impact on the ground in underserved communities, but that impact will become exponential if we (and others who share our mission/message) can succeed at helping shoppers understand their real connection with the maker of their clothing. We share so much as humanity globally, and one of those things is our success and well-being. If we all viewed our purchases as more than a simple fulfillment of a personal need and realized it could also change the trajectory of the maker’s life, our world would look much different.
KK intl. works closely with non-profit partner CAPABLE – can you explain what this partnership looks like and why CAPABLE is integral to your mission of targeting poverty?
CAPABLE brings critical knowledge and programming to our work through local staff and mentors. They help to guide our decisions on our employment practices and wages, as well as provide additional program services like education and mentorship.
"If we all viewed our purchases as more than a simple fulfillment of a personal need and realized it could also change the trajectory of the maker’s life, our world would look much different."
Lastly, what are some of your favorite KK intl. products that you currently offer?
Our weekender bag ‘The Pike’ is great for traveling. As far as headwear goes, we did create the ‘World’s Greatest Beanie’ (seriously), which is made from 100% baby alpaca fibers and provides transparency into the entire supply chain. Beanies ‘The Brady’ and ‘The Brix’ are also favorites among our customers.
Thank you to Kohl and the whole team at Krochet Kids intl for their support during the Dressember campaign, and for their commitment to bringing back humanity and personal connections to the fashion industry. You can shop their collection below, and we encourage you to also check out their new project, KNOWN SUPPLY for great ethical basics.
About the Author
Michaela Judge is a military veteran and Southern transplant. As a Public Relations specialist by day, she is overjoyed to use her love of writing to help fight for freedom and justice through Dressember! Her favorite moments are spent with her husband, Phil, and daughter, Ellie, adventuring in Charleston, South Carolina, and spreading hospitality