Krochet Kids International (KK Intl) is a non-profit and lifestyle brand dedicated to empowering people to rise above poverty. With a unique and holistic approach, Krochet Kids seeks to equip its participants with the foundational tools to bring about long-term change in a person's life: a job, an education, and personalized mentorship.
There are currently 35 women employed by Krochet Kids in Lima, Peru who produce the products that Krochet Kids sells. There are an additional 130 women employed by their sister branch in Gulu, Uganda.
Established in 2011, the Peruvian branch of Krochet Kids has seen tremendous growth and now supplies the majority of the brand's products including knit hats, scarves, gloves, and panels to be later sewn into bags and apparel.
Every product begins with raw materials, which the women knit on hand-powered machines in the area known as Tejido, which literally translates to "knitting."
With a set of intricate needles and a passing carriage, the yarn is knit into a wide variety of styles, shapes, and patterns.
In the case of most products, once the panels have been knit they require crocheting or sewing to transform them into a finished hat or accessory. Depending on the product's difficulty and the woman's skill level, she can make anywhere from 5-25 hats a day.
For the Berlin, a snowflake-patterned scarf, it requires a special round of ironing to flatten the fabric and give it a cleaner finish. In the summer of 2015, Krochet Kids produced close to 7,000 of these scarves for their winter orders.
At the end of each day, the particpants fill out a series of labels with their names and attach them, thereby branding the hand-crafted product as their own.
Each day, group leaders review the products made from the previous day and check for quality control. If something doesn't pass, its maker performs the necessary repairs and the products are checked once more.
The second round of QC is performed by a group of interns, usually hailing from the United States but previous interns have come from as far as Sweden, Spain, and Russia.
Once a product is purchased, the buyer can go online and learn more about the woman who made it; this is integral to Krochet Kids' philosophy.
In addition to the participants in the program, Krochet Kids employs approximately 40 staff members and skilled workers to keep the operation running smoothly.
In 2013, Krochet Kids expanded their program to create a variety of apparel items such as t-shirts, tanks, sweatshirts, sweaters, and several models of bags. It goes by the name of Cut & Sew.
From the knit panels created across the street, Cut & Sew uses molds to trace the shapes for fronts, backs, and sleeves in large quantities.
For outsourced fabric, the top floor of Cut & Sew uses a massive table and fabric saw to cut through dozens of layers of fabric at a time.
Once the fabric panels have been cut, they are assembled into a proper garment with the use of sewing machines. Eva Alvarez, a seasoned participant in the program flies through this process with ease.
In the same fashion, every garment made in Cut & Sew contains a signed label from its maker.
In the first year, the women focus on personal development: decision making, proper health practices, handling issues at home such as parenting and domestic violence, self-esteem development, and community building for example.
Another critical component of Krochet Kids' program is its focus on education. Through weekly lessons, the participants study a wide variety of topics tailored to the particular issues facing women and the communities of Villa Nicolasa, Pacifico de Villa, and San Genaro where they reside.
In the second year, the ladies begin to learn financial management and how to plan for a future. They have access to a group savings account and are taught how to handle, save, and spend money more effectively.
In the third year, classes encompass business development and post-graduation planning. A first ever Business Plan Competition contained four groups of entrepreneur's developing and pitching their ideals for a legitimate business in the community.
While still a young organization, the branch has made immense progress in a short period of time. What began as 10 women meeting a house to knit products by hand has evolved into a powerhouse team of 80+ individuals spanning 7 buildings on 1 bustling street producing well over 150,000 products last year alone.
Krochet Kids International has had the ability to impact others on a global scale but more importantly on a local scale, with the beliefs that their products have worth because their people do.