The Trailblazers for Good Q&A Series sits down with the most world shaking individuals leading the movement to align impact, profit and purpose. Here we pick the brains of top social entrepreneurs to learn first hand from their stunning accomplishments, utter failures, and stiff challenges in leading the revolution of doing well by doing good. Join us as we explore the collective consciousness that drives and inspires these individuals.
Kohl Crecelius is the CEO & Co-founder of Krochet Kids
Can you tell us a little bit about what Krochet Kids does, and what inspired you to start it?
Krochet Kids intl. is a cause-driven accessories brand that is working to eradicate poverty through sustainable economic development programs and unique, one-of-a-kind products. We are currently working in Northern Uganda and Peru to fulfill our mission statement – to empower people to rise above poverty. Our work was inspired by our desire to see people living in developing nations empowered and their dignity restored, while utilizing this odd skill that had, crocheting.
Why did you guys decide to be a non-profit?
From the very inception of this idea we wanted it to be clear what our intentions were, which were to care for and make an impact in impoverished communities around the globe. To this day, our bottom line is not in the profit we generate but in the successes of our beneficiaries and how they are learning and caring for their families. We wanted to be transparent in such a way that would instill confidence in our supporters and those that wanted to purchase our products.
Can you tell us about the programs you have on the ground in Uganda?
The programs that we have in Uganda, and those that we are starting in Peru, are built upon a model of “holistic care”. That is to say, we provide opportunities for our beneficiaries to grow and enrich their lives in every way. It starts first and foremost with a fair and consistent income earned through their work creating products. For many of them this is the first consistent income they have ever had. The goals for our program go far beyond a job and incorporate tools and resources for them to truly be empowered. We have a team of mentors (1 mentor has a group of 20 beneficiaries) who oversee and direct education on a variety of topics to help the ladies understand ways to use their income and plan for the future. Ultimately, the mentors help the women plan for future careers and jobs that they can hold completely sovereign of Krochet Kids intl. that our locally sustainable within their economy. Our program is to last 3-5 years to facilitate this process and each women’s individual empowerment and longterm livelihood.
What’s the biggest challenge in running Krochet Kids?
We started the organization while we were in college, so aside from other small entrepreneurial endeavors like a snow shoveling business, we are learning a lot as we go. We are faced with the challenges of growing our organization in a smart and focused way on all fronts, including not only the business of selling hats, but the balance between scaling our operations while holistically caring for every individual that is a part of our programs in Uganda in Peru. We are fortunate to have trusted staff and knowledgeable advisors — here at home and abroad — that have helped guide us along the way. Yet we are committed to being a learning organization.
How did the partnership with Volcom come about and what have you learned that other non profits can adapt to their partnerships with bigger corporations?
As a brand we have always made an effort to set ourselves up to partner and collaborate with people we respect in order to push forward and involve others in making a true impact on developing nations. We became friends with the staff at Volcom and were able to create a fun partnership that does exactly that. I think one of the biggest things we have learned as a non-profit is how much we have to offer. It’s easy for us, as non-profits, to think we have little to offer, but this is a lie. The intentionality and authenticity that happens within our work is something that corporations really want to be a part of, or can have a hard time doing on their own. Know that you are valuable and have much to offer.
How can our general readership help you push forward your mission?
“Buy a hat. Change a life.” That’s the most direct way for people to get involved and help spread the story of our work. Moreover, if you own one of our hats you can go online and thank the lady that made it at http://www.krochetkids.org/projects/ladies/. In this way you can not only support our work, but you can directly encourage the woman who made it. Words are powerful, and let us not forget that. You can also check out this video that showcases the ceremony we had at our compound in Northern Uganda, where we presented the THANK YOU notes you all have written to the lady that made your hat.