As 2017 draws to a close we can't help but look back at the past ten years of our work with great fondness and humility. So many people have contributed to making our work what it is today. And though we have a renewed vision for our work in the next decade (which you'll have to get to the bottom of this list to learn more about) we know that every step of our journey has been critical to our longevity, as well as future growth.
Take a trip down memory lane with us as we highlight ten top moments from our last ten years. Many of you will view these as familiar, while others will get to witness some really fun moments from the last decade of our work for the first time.
1) Beginning Our Work in Uganda
The impetus for our work involved teaching women in Uganda how to crochet as a means for them to take back control over their futures. Through our previous experiences volunteering with international aid groups, we saw that the approach often fell short of long term impact and became to focused on immediate needs instead of equipping people for living independent livelihoods. We wanted to see this change.
2) Getting Orders from Nordstrom
Call it luck, or call it being in the right place at the right time, but much of our early growth can be attributed to larger partners who believed in our mission and saw something in the product we were creating. One of our early retailers was Nordstrom, and through their partnership so many people came to learn about our story on a national stage.
3) Winning $500K from Chase Bank
Remember those Facebook voting competitions? The ones all your friends annoyingly messaged you about. We were those friends, and thanks to a competition put on by Chase Bank, Krochet Kids intl. was able to secure enough votes to win second place -- which also meant a $500K grant. This money helped us to launch exciting new programs in Peru to begin producing our own apparel.
4) Our First Graduate in Uganda
The cornerstone of our social impact work was the belief that people were capable to lead their own independent and self-reliant livelihoods. This meant the measure of our success was to see women graduate from our program to lead businesses and careers that they were passionate about and uniquely gifted to pursue. Akot Beatrice helped to prove that this theory actually worked and was a a catalyst for some many other women to follow her lead to do the same.
5) Launching Krochet Kids Peru
As we grew our brand we recognized the need to continue to evolve our product offering in a way that would include a more diverse set of people geographically and stylistically (AKA not everyone wears beanies). With that we also looked to broaden our impact reach through starting a second production facility. Peru landed at the top of our list for a number of reasons, but one the main ones being the incredible resources that could be found there for yarns and fabrics. As always is the case, he is a window into our very humble beginnings in Latin America.
6) Collaborating with Vans Shoes
Collaborations have been a part of our brand DNA since we began, but the opportunity to work with Vans on a project presented a truly unique experience for all of us at Krochet Kids intl. One of the most memorable aspects of this project was the chance to travel with Vans professional surfer Leila Hurst to Peru. Taking the women of Krochet Kids Peru surfing is one of the most memorable days of our brand history.
7) Introducing Bags to our Collection
Expanding our product offering was a key component for us to move away from Krochet Kids intl. the headwear company to Krochet Kids intl. the lifestyle brand. Our bags, and specifically our weekender bag "the Pike", were an early hit that helped to solidify our brand as more than a hat company. Don't get us wrong, we had a lot of failed attempts at other products to get here, including a wide array of bags. Keep progressing people!
8) First Business Plan Competition in Peru
With the expansion of our production efforts in Peru also came the furthering of our social impact work. A milestone event in our impact programming is a business plan competition, where the participants at our production facility take part in planning and pitching potential businesses. These efforts bring real world experience to the learning. And to answer your question, some of the businesses pitched have actually been started amongst groups of women that we work with.
9) Creating the World's Greatest Beanie
As the video says, eight years into our work we were trying to explore how we could further our product. We set out to create the World's Greatest Beanie, which to us meant taking into account the people and process a part of the ENTIRE supply chain. We funded the concept on Kickstarter and it lives on as one of our popular headwear ever since.
10) Introducing the Future of Our Vision
As we began planning the next decade of our work we decided that our best chance at longevity and continuing to create long-term social impact would be to do what we have always done... improve, innovate, and iterate. This last month we made two announcements that we are VERY excited about. KNOWN SUPPLY (above) is a sister brand we launched that is focusing on creating more jobs and humanizing the apparel industry at large.
CAPABLE (below) is the new name and look for all of our social impact efforts. It is the non-profit partner for both Krochet Kids intl. and KNOWN SUPPLY, that has a renewed vision for how to create large scale impact in our current communities and beyond.