“Buy a Hat, Change a Life.”
I don’t know where you go for inspiration, or what types of things, ideas, or people you search for to gain inspiration in and around your life. I personally have multiple areas that are my “go to’s” for art, writing, design, or business, but I have to admit that specific individuals are what really drive and inspire me.
I heard about a group of kids from my father a few years ago who were creating relationships in Uganda for a specific purpose and had run into some of his Ugandan friends in the field. These kids from Spokane, Washington, had already created a buzz through crocheting and selling their pieces in their hometown that dubbed them “Krochet Kids.”
A few trips abroad working in developing countries is all it took to realize that they could take a single idea and use it to break the cycle of poverty. Passion, love, vision, and commitment are all it takes sometimes to make a difference, change a life, and influence the world.
Krochet Kids intl., as it exists today, is the combination of a group of friends, our desire to see dignity restored in the lives of people living in poverty, and an odd skill my older brother taught me—crocheting.
When did the desire to do humanitarian work, or serving developing communities begin in your life’s journey?
I feel very fortunate to have had friends in my life that helped me look outward—both outside myself and outside my immediate surroundings. I first traveled with a church in my hometown to volunteer my time with Haitian refugees who were living in the Dominican Republic. It was my introduction to poverty and an initial understanding of its complexities. What I took away from that trip more than anything was the understanding that people are people—we share so much in common.
What has the journey been like so far?
It’s exactly that … a journey. It has been an extreme pleasure every step of the way and I am fortunate to be working with some of my best friends in the process. I think it’s important to remember that work/life/anything is a journey, and we should constantly be learning and improving upon everything we are doing. Things are rarely perfect. We can only offer our best in any situation.
Talk about “sustainability”—there are a large group of visionaries with great ideas out there that come and go. How are you guys able to develop a model that is sustainable for the long haul?
I don’t know what to say other than that we are in it for the long haul. From the very beginning of this vision we decided we were going to see this through to the end, and we would settle for nothing less. The individuals and communities we work with depend on us and we will give absolutely everything we have to ensure their growth and empowerment. Thus, we don’t have the option to fail.
2011 has been a pretty amazing year for KKi so far—partnerships with Volcom, Summit Series, Praxis, and I am sure more that I don’t know about. As a social entrepreneur, activist, and leader, how do these moments drive or influence you?
I love this Chuck Palahniuk quote: “Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everybody I’ve ever known.” Any opportunity I have to learn from others, and about others, is amazing. I am energized by people’s stories and value new relationships greatly. I’m shaped by them and sharpened by them.
What would you say is your greatest achievement to date?
Being a part of a team that is revolutionizing the way business and humanitarian aid interact by creating a model for empowerment that is changing people’s lives—both at home and abroad. I am overjoyed when I hear stories of our beneficiaries in Uganda sending their children through school or starting new businesses as a result of their involvement with KKi. I am also stoked to hear about someone who has purchased a hat and realized the impact of his or her purchases for the first time.
You are about to embark on an exciting new journey with KKi in Peru—tell us about it.
We have always wanted to create a model whereby we could make great products and empower people to rise above poverty in the process. Our goal was that this could happen all around the globe, utilizing a wide variety of products. Peru is our next step. We are working in a small community just outside of Lima to help equip a group of women with the skills and resources to break the cycle of poverty. The products made through this new project will be brand new and completely unique, to provide more options to our growing support base and to maintain our theme: “Buy a hat. Change a life.”
Your team continues to impress and inspire me in great ways, but how does your team in the States and in Uganda inspire you?
In more ways than I can express. I admire how selfless and passionate our team is. Nobody working at Krochet Kids intl. is working for himself or herself. They offer every ounce of their effort to the empowerment of communities around the globe living in poverty. It’s pretty awesome.
What books are you reading right now?
The Poor Will Be Glad, by Peter Greer
Good to Great, by Jim Collins
Cannery Row, by John Steinbeck
When you are looking for wisdom or inspiration where do you go?
To my co-workers, a good cup of coffee, the ocean, theberrics.com (skateboarding), and documentaries on Netflix.
How can people get involved in the KKi story?
First and foremost, buy a hat. You can look inside each hat and see the signature of the lady that made it, and even visit her profile online to write her a thank you note. Not only does your purchase make a great impact in Northern Uganda or Peru, but also your words can directly speak encouragement into the life of the person that made your hat. Words are powerful.
Join us in the journey on Facebook and Twitter and invite your friends to get involved.
Buy a Hat, Change a Life: WWW.KROCHETKIDS.ORG
Originally appeared at HyperVocal.