Krochet Kids intl. is a multi-faceted, non-profit organization that empowers people to rise above poverty through skill training and sustainable economic development. Founded by three childhood friends, Kohl Crecelius, Stewart Ramsey, and Travis Hartanov, Krochet Kids intl. sells products that are not only stylish but serve as a vehicle for social change. While in high school, Kohl, Stewart, and Travis, learned to crochet from Kohl’s older brother Parc and started designing and selling hats to fellow skiers and snowboarders. A few years later, while on summer break from college, Stewart traveled to Uganda to volunteer at an orphanage. While Stewart did witness extreme poverty, he was encouraged by the dignity and eagerness of the people to work and provide for themselves.
Since their modest beginnings, Krochet Kids intl. has experienced exciting growth, running their business with excellence, and in so doing, making a tremendous impact. Now employing more than 185 women in Uganda and Peru,
Krochet Kids intl. is teaching women who are impoverished to crochet, cut, sew, and produce handmade goods. Each quality, handmade product is signed by the woman responsible for crafting the garment, thus giving affirmation to the creator and its uniqueness.
Read on to learn more about Krochet Kids intl.’s journey as a company. Also, make sure to visit their online store and help support Krochet Kids intl. as they empower the individuals who craft these wonderful garments.
All of the beautiful images below, processed using VSCO Film, were photographed in Northern Uganda, where Krochet Kids is working to equip women with the necessary finances, skills and confidence to start new businesses within their communities. The film, which shows the meaning of empowerment, was also color graded with VSCO Film.
How has Krochet Kids intl. grown, both in reach and in the products created?
Today, we are working with over 185 women in Uganda and Peru, empowering them to rise above poverty through jobs, education, and one-on-one mentorship. We have grown a lot when it comes to understanding our impact. We measure each lady on 45 different variables every month to get a complete picture of the steps they are taking to break the cycle of poverty.
Our product has improved leaps and bounds as well. The beanies we make have gotten better and better, but starting a Cut & Sew initiative at our empowerment project in Peru has opened the floodgates for the great products we can make. Today, apparel, bags, and tech cases are all a part of our seasonal collections. Each one is made by our program beneficiaries abroad and comes with a hand-signed label from the woman who made it.
Is there a specific story of change & empowerment regarding a Krochet Kids intl. employee in Uganda or Peru that you would like to share?
Beatrice, the last face you see in the video, has been an amazing story of success. She leveraged her time within our program to not only provide for her family, send her kids to school for the first time, and start a savings account, but she also invested in her future. She has now graduated from Krochet Kids Uganda, because she was able to start 3 of her own businesses using her knowledge gained and savings earned crocheting. She is employing people in her community and has become an example of the change that can happen through perseverance and opportunity.
What have been integral decisions or are important values that have made Krochet Kids intl. a successful, professionally run Non-Profit?
One of the biggest decisions we made in the beginning, and have had to defend over the years, has been our choice to incorporate as a non-profit organization. Many people think we are a for-profit business, but we remained as a non-profit in order to keep one thing very clear: impact is our bottom line. We didn’t want to taint our vision with any adverse or ulterior motives outside of our mission statement - to empower people to rise above poverty.
To grow to where we are today, it has taken a lot of perseverance, knowing who we are (and who we’re not), as well as an amazing community of supporters and staff who selflessly get involved with our work. It’s really humbling.
What does the creative process for designing and manufacturing a new product look like?
We have an amazing designer in-house who develops new products and chooses colors each season. She travels to our project locations multiple times a year to research materials and different construction methods alongside our staff and program beneficiaries. She then works with our Art Director to develop all the trims and labels for each product.
Since we are still a pretty small team, we also pull everyone together for our line review meetings to offer feedback and get excited about all the new product! It’s fun.
Why were Peru & Uganda chosen as the two countries for Krochet Kids intl. to operate out of? Does Krochet Kids intl. have products made that are unique to each location?
We started working in Uganda due to the relationships we had created with some local organizations and individuals from previous trips. The area was in great need of a program that created jobs and economic opportunity; so, that’s what we did.
After working in Uganda for 3 years, we decided that it would be important for us to expand our work to a new country, in order that we could make new kinds of products and create change in an entirely new context. Peru provided both the amazing natural fibers and materials for our products, as well as the opportunity to use new construction methods for our goods. Each style of products is unique to one of our project locations, and none are made in both locations. This way each item brings its own unique touch from the country it was made in.
What are your dreams for the future of Krochet Kids intl.?
We dream of a future where people care as much about their personal style as they do about knowing where their fashion comes from and the impact it is having on the person who made it. We are excited to play a role in educating people, as well as outfitting them in some awesome apparel and accessories in the process.