Krochet Kids International Provides Knitting Skills To Developing Countries (And More!)

 After seeing an article in the NY Times Magazine showcasing a unique business model created by Krochet Kids International co-founders Kohl Crecelius, Stewart Ramsey and Travis Hartanov, I knew that they were doing something significant. They are putting  power into hands of individuals in nations such as Uganda and Peru to raise monies for their impoverished nations by aiding in food, clothing and education.

The Krochet Kids International (KKI) mission teaches women to crochet handmade hats, sweatshirts and other merchandise that is personally signed by the woman who knits each item. KKI alps to export these items to the US and other countries where they can be sold. All monies made from purchasing each item is then sent back to the country it was made.

Betty is one of various women who have joined the movement. What is great about this system is that after you receive your handmade item, you can thank the woman personally!

This month will feature a new line of knitted hats as well as a line of bow ties and scarves!

Visit their website where you can learn more, purchase and/or donate money to this great cause.

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H&M To Launch Conscious Glamour Line

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H&M, known for it’s stylish, in-expensive clothing for the masses is preparing to launch a more upscale, eco-friendly clothing line to emphasize classic style as well as affordability! [image via Getty] Already being worn by Michelle Williams, Amanda Seyfried and … Continue reading

COTG Interview Series Presents… The Vanity Project!

[L to R; Co-founders Omri Bojko and Jason Sochol wearing The Vanity Project hoodies – Bojko wearing Chicago Coalition For The Homeless logo; Sochol wearing American Friends of The Israel Sport Center For The Disabled logo]

Two twenty-somethings living in Chicago are unhappy at their jobs as respective traders and real estate analysts. Sounds familiar, right? While our generation is known as one to be indecisive, coddled by our parents and their upper/middle-class lifestyles and not strongly career driven, we are going to dive into the lives of two individuals who do not fall into these stereotypes. They used their friendship and passion for entrepreneurship to form a unique new retail/charity driven company called The Vanity Project.

Consisting of two Northwestern alums and college buddies, we explore with co-founders Omri Bojko and Jason Sochol the history behind the company as well as how it plans to grow and make itself a relevant company in the struggling non-profit world and competitive retail industry.

“It’s more of a personal journey as cliche as that sounds… I was ill prepared for the new world after college,” said Bojko of his post-college life.

Both Omri and Jason were very involved in their local communities by working with various non-profit organizations during their time in Chicago. Around the time after Jason’s mother was diagnosed with Breast Cancer (and now fully recovered!) they both sat down to discuss how they could make a profitable business by working with non-profits and have them see the benefits.

Co-founder Omri realized, “there are so many inefficiencies in how non-profits operated…  Just because I’m a non-profit doesn’t mean I can’t run a successful business.”

Here is where the idea for a retail based company was born – use non-profit logos and add them to casual apparel and sell. The idea is to “take a charity logo, make it cool to wear the logo and represent a charity or something socially conscious,” explained Sochol.

When Bojko wasn’t working, he would run from store to store, including places like Urban Outfitters and find the apparel/materials he thought would be most comfortable, easy-to-wear and marked the breakdown of materials. He recognized that, “fashion and clothing is the most prevalent form of self-expression we have and I feel it’s completely under-utilized.”

Under their model,  51% of profits made from the purchase of each item go back to the charity featured.  The Vanity Project is in charge of manufacturing the product and creative/marketing, if requested by the client. Most of their clothing manufacturing is handled by Alternative Apparel and “as a result, everything we produce adheres to socially responsible standards,” states Sochol. They are currently selling t-shirts, sweatshirts, tanks and just began thermal wear. Eventually they hope to expand into other accessories including hats, scarves and other basic wear.

Since many of these small organizations don’t have the money or resources to dedicate towards marketing techniques, The Vanity Project is filling that void by providing aid in this area where both sides can exchange resources.

“We’re almost an agency for these non-profits,” said Bojko. We’re going to help you develop your brand, market you…You have little organizations that are doing such good grass-roots, hands-on stuff. They’re not just advocacy groups, they’re really helping people out and those are the ones that need us more than anyone else,” says Bojko of their work with local organizations.

As anyone who starts a new business knows, it starts with a lot of cold calls. To start with small steps when reaching out to Chicago-based organizations, “We started with the Chicago Coalition For The Homeless. It was a cold call, but they perked up immediately,” says co-founder Sochol after explaining their thorough business plan. They’ve been working with them ever since.

Since these initial calls, they now acquired permission of logos for nine organizations that they are working closely with, including Rainbow House, Boys and Girls Club, Aspergers Awareness and their first children-based organization Story Pirates. Sochol and Bojko have an interest in working with a variety of non-profits both on a local and national scale.

Said Bojko, “Our goal is to have a very wide sweep of organizations that represent all major causes including equal rights, environment, education, homelessness, medical, disease prevention.”

They do hope to plan that some of their upcoming collaborations will be more domestic as they recognize the significance for aid right in our own homes.
While Bojko and Sochol are still in the early stages of their road to success, they have high expectations to how The Vanity Project will evolve. However, they are extremely grounded, with a mission statement that reflects the same, and consumers and people at large will follow suit with their positive intentions.

“We came into this with a good heart and that was the importance for this entire thing.. But, people want to look good too. If we can provide them with a seamless way to look good and buy things that are good quality, we will build brands out of these causes and direct people towards learning about charities,” proclaims Bojko. They hope that by seeing these logos, people will eventually learn to remember their associations to the non-profits and share that information with others.

Some fashion brands they used as inspiration to start The Vanity Project include Levi, Urban Outfitters, Vicarious by Nature, Free People and E. Village vintage shops. Bojko and Sochol see what brands like these are doing to increase social consumerism, which makes the timing for The Vanity Project an ideal one.

To market themselves in the fashion landscape, they’ve traveled to various cities selling their merchandise at festivals charity and other related events. They also just hosted their first sponsored event during NYC Fashion Week this month, which was a big success.

As of February, they have revamped their website so you can purchase items, learn about the non-profit organizations and upcoming events. They are also continuing to explore funding opportunities — if anyone would like to know more information, don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly.

To summarize The Vanity Project, it was best stated by Bojko: “When people tell you that you’re nuts, you know that you’re onto something good.”

The Beauty and Madness of Alexander McQueen in Savage Beauty

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As many of you may already know for the posts I’ve written, I am a big fan of the arts. Whether it be art, music, fashion, theater – the creativity involved within all of these respective fields is fascinating. I … Continue reading

Today’s Author Inspirations – Cinemagraphs

[image via Mashable/From Me To You]

“Cinemagraphs”, or movement within still images is how Jamie Beck and Kevin Burg describe their patent-pending digital-evolutionary photography.

Beck and Burg, who run the popular Tumblr site From Me To You, showcases their creative skills while exploring the worlds of fashion, travel, nature and other life experiences.

Thanks to Mashable for writing this article to introduce readers to innovative “everyday people” who do what they love while making a significant impact in the digital/media world.

In addition to the creative GIF photographs, her still images are quite beautiful as well. The way Beck provides such crisp detail in all of her photographs as well as recognizing the various planes within a photo help to highlight the primary focus of each photograph, making each one unique and beautiful.

The photos surrounding this text were taken over New York Fashion Week last month.

Something Old, Something Borrowed, Something New…

Think back to when you went to prom or any other high school dance. You wore a beautiful dress, got your hair and make-up done and felt like a princess?

For those who are unable to have those experiences that many of us probably take for granted, Donate My Dress is a wonderful campaign run by Hearst Corporation, (Seventeen, Teen, CosmoGirl), where women can donate their old dresses, shoes, purses, make-up and help young women feel their best while enjoying their teenage years.

Donate My Dress has helped girls get their happy ending by getting their confidence back and feel like they are a part of something great. Read the ‘thank you’ notes from dozens of teenage girls who have been positively impacted by this project: (from donatemydress.org)

 

Dear Seventeen.com,

The year of my high school prom, I was homeless and living in a car or sleeping outside on the street. I had nothing other than my (very few) school supplies and the clothes on my back, but I knew if I kept going to work and school, I would be OK. I just wanted a real prom and when I picked up the flier for the Princess Project at school, it made all the difference. Because of them I was able to have a real prom with a dress, accessories, and makeup! There’s no way I would have been able to do that before and I can’ t thank them enough for making my year a little more enjoyable.

Rachel

Find Donate My Dress in your area by following the locator to see what stores/companies have partnered with this campaign. There’s never too many dresses that can be donated and recycled over again!

Celebrities, including Ashley Greene, Selena Gomez and Brittany Snow have all supported and contributed to the success of the Donate My Dress project.

Image via life.com