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You could buy a beanie that keeps your head warm and looks good. Or, you could buy a beanie from Krochet Kits International that’s not only warm and good-looking, but directly contributes to lifting families out of poverty in Uganda and Peru. Krochet Kids is an apparel company like no other; in fact, it’s actually a non-profit organization whose mission is to empower and improve the life of its workers through the production of beautiful, unique handcrafted headwear, apparel, bags, and accessories.
The Krochet Kids concept was developed by childhood friends Kohl Crecelius, Stewart Ramsey, and Travis Hartanov. They enjoyed the offbeat hobby of crocheting custom beanies while they were in high school in Spokane, Washington, to the point where they were dubbed the “Krochet Kids” by a local newspaper. The next years involved college and, on breaks, travel and work in developing countries. It was after an eye-opening trip to the refugee camps of Northern Uganda, where people had fled to escape the ravages of a brutal civil war, that Stewart began formulating a vision. When he’d asked camp residents what they wanted most, and the answer was to work, and to provide for themselves. The following summer of 2008, the three friends returned to the camp armed with yarn and crochet hooks, to train people to do one of the only things that they themselves knew how to do--crochet. It took hold, and the non-profit got off the ground.
Krochet Kids presently employs 150 women in Uganda. But the opportunity to earn a living wage is only a small part of the Krochet Kids program there; the objective is to give them the ability to move on and build a better future, armed with savings from working and the assistance of a unique mentorship program that KK has set up there.
Krochet Kids expanded into Peru a few years later, drawn by the pressing needs there as well as the availability of local sources for materials like high-quality alpaca and Pima cotton. The model is the same, to provide steady employment, educational opportunities, and mentorship to women in need. Operations there have expanded to include a cut-and-sew production floor where, in coordination with US-based designers, apparel and bags are produced.
What is the end result? Handmade beanies and scarves with a look that no machine can reproduce. Tops for men, women, and children that are both comfortable and stylish. Bags that combine brilliant indigenous patterns with functional design. But above all, a better life for the people creating these products. Every Krochet Kids product bears a tag signed by the woman who made it, to connect you to the process and its producer. It serves as a reminder of one of the original Krochet Kids tag: “Buy a Hat – Change a Life”