Written by Hanna Lee
When you picture a crocheter, 25-year old Kohl Crecelius doesnât necessarily come to mind.Â However, Crecelius and his childhood friends, Travis Hartanov and Stewart Ramsey, have made the unconventional hobby their calling. The three friends founded Krochet Kids International, a nonprofit that teaches the art of crocheting to women living in poverty. Empowering them with a living wage and skill set, the trade becomes not only life changing to the individual woman, but to her entire family.
âSometimes I wonder if Iâm making it all up in my head, but no, this is really happening!â says CEO and founder Crecelius. âThis is me using my gifts to the best of my ability to help others.â
Their movement goes back to when the three friends were in high school.Â Creceliusâ older brother learned crocheting in college and passed it on to them. Avid snowboarders, the boys liked the novelty of designing their own mountain gear. Â Eventually, word spread across their Spokane, WA high school and selling their hats became a profitable business. A local newspaper dubbed them: The Krochet Kids.
During college, their summer travels showed them firsthand the huge divide in the global community. Ramsey traveled to Northern Uganda and was deeply troubled by what he saw.Â A rebel army ravaged the northern part of the country, and people had spent the last 20 years living in government camps.
âPeople in Uganda were living hand to mouth,â recounts Crecelius. âStewart saw the power of a job and the dignity that comes with providing for your own family.â It was then that the friends realized their crocheting skill could fulfill a need.
Planning over Skype, Crecelius, Ramsey and Hartanov developed their nonprofit during their last two years of college. âWe literally Googled âhow to start a nonprofitâ and used our money from the hat sales to fund it,â Crecelius said.
It was important for Crecelius to broaden their reach beyond traditional humanitarian aide of food and clothing.Â By empowering the women with a skill, it allows them to take care of themselves and not send a message of âyou need us to survive.â
Krochet Kids International aims to replace the need for humanitarian aid completely with the motto: âBuy A Hat. Change a Life.â The nonprofitâs headquarters in Costa Mesa, CA handles the operations and coordinates logistics while the Uganda compound oversees the actual education cycle. The 3-year cycle provides the women with a job, education and a mentor so they can create a unique and sustainable plan for the future. The womenâs wages are the same every month to provide steady and consistent pay.
Each hat is signed by the woman who crocheted it; buyers can read their story on KrochetKids.org. People can write thank you notes to the women and Crecelius plans to deliver them when he visits the Uganda compound this summer.
âThe thank you notes bridge the gap and shows itâs a two way street,â Crecelius says. âItâs a way of tangibly showing them that they have something to offer.â
Purchase a Krochet Kids hat on their website or locate a Nordstrom retailer near you to buy one in stores.
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