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In the Age of Fast Fashion, Krochet Kids Slows Down and Helps Its Employees

As consumers, it’s hard to really know where your clothes are coming from and if they were made ethically. One company you can count on, though, is Krochet Kids, an apparel company that is empowering women in Northern Uganda and Peru to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.

This year, they designed and manufactured all of the apparel for the Global Citizen Festival and the collaboration could be more promising.

Learn More: Check Out Global Citizen's Shop Here.

“It was clear from the start of our conversations that our organizations were aligned on many levels, the most important of which is poverty alleviation and equipping this next generation to do something about it,” said Kohl Crecelius, the CEO and co-founder of Krochet Kids.

The story of their company begins with Crecelius, and a lesson from his older brother in 2003. Upon returning home to Spokane, Washington, from college, he taught Crecelius, who was still in high school at the time, how to crochet.

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Taken with the new trade, Crecelius taught his two pals, Travis Hartanov and Stewart Ramsey. The three began creating beanies to sell, which they did successfully, eventually adapting the name Krochet Kids from a local newspaper.  

After high school, they went off to different colleges, assuming they would leave crocheting behind. They traveled during their summer breaks to places like Uganda and witnessed poverty first hand.

Crecelius was significantly impacted by the stories his friend, Ramsey relayed after a summer trip to Uganda in 2006. While there, Ramsey met individuals who were living in government camps and had been relying entirely on the government and aid organizations. Crecelius, Ramsey and Hartanov were encouraged by friends and family to share the skill of crocheting with people in developing countries to help end the cycle of poverty. By 2007, their goal became to give people, more specifically woman a skill with which they could catapult themselves out of the dependency cycle.

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Initially, Crecelius had doubts that something like crocheting could warrant the potential to be so impactful, but after visiting Uganda with bags full of yarn and the will to teach, he recognized the rippling effect it could instill.

Krochet Kids now has its headquarters located in Costa Mesa, California and employs 150 women in Uganda and 50 women in Peru. Their products, which include headwear, apparel, bags and accessories, are sold at Whole Foods, Nordstrom, and 300 other boutique retailers across the US, Canada, and Japan. They create 14 t-shirts, hoodies, hats, and more for Global Citizen.

The women who work for Krochet Kids also participate in a three-year education curriculum and mentorship program.

“The goal of our work is to provide a holistic set of program services that equip and empower women in every area of their lives,” Crecelius said.

The education trainings cover topics such as literacy, budgeting, health and family planning. Krochet Kids also offers business training programs to help the women work toward starting their own careers and their independent livelihoods.

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Indigenous leaders, working full time on the Krochet Kids staff, act as mentors by providing support for each woman that is participating.

Each woman is paid a fair-wage for each piece she completes. The income allows her to pay for immediate needs and also save for future endeavors, more than anything however, the program gives these women opportunity.

To Crecelius, being a Global Citizen means “realizing that we are bound together in our humanity.” The recognition that though we are physically far from these individuals, our desires to be successful in our futures is unanimous.

“What's most unique about our product for Global Citizen (and for all our product in general) is the hand-signed label that is attached to every product that we sell. Anyone who purchases a [Global Citizen] product [made by Krochet Kids] product can go online and learn more about the woman who made their product,” Crecelius said.

The shirts are all hand signed by the woman who made each particular one, and for that we say thank you!

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