Yeah, We're A Little Different
(…and by a little I mean a lot)
Since the beginning of KK intl., we have taken a different approach to creating a lifestyle apparel brand, and the main reason for this was that our product was purely a means to an end. Whether it's a beanie or apparel product, its first purpose was to provide jobs in some of the most vulnerable communities on the planet. Its second goal was to allow others to get involved. We knew the product we made would have to be great in order to build sustainability into our model and to prove the capabilities of the people we were serving, but if we simply wanted to start a fashion brand we would have gone about everything very differently.
We have reimagined the apparel production process in order to prioritize the health, wellbeing, and empowerment of the people who are making all KK intl. products. Here are 7 ways we are unique in our approach:
1) We hire unskilled people.
We purposefully seek to employ the most vulnerable women in the communities where we serve. This means they often have little education (if any) and lack consistent employment. We provide the job training they need to learn a new craft and start producing our items. We do this because it's significant, not because it's efficient.
2) We offer consistent employment, no matter what.
We ensure a consistent and living wage for the beneficiaries of our program. Where other apparel factories would shut down seasonally or with fluctuating orders, we get creative to make sure women can keep earning and learning.
3) We make people stop their work so they can participate in education.
Beyond the consistent employment we offer, we also support our beneficiaries by taking them through a 3-year education curriculum and providing one-on-one mentorship. This means we are pulling them away from their work to participate in trainings and other sessions.
4) We operate our “factories” as well as our lifestyle brand.
Most companies in the apparel space either do clothing production or operate as a branded apparel company. We choose to do both in order to deliver a one-of-a-kind product that was built with the producer in mind. From bags to hats, every product is hand-signed by the woman who made it. I use the term “factories” in quotations, as they aren't your typical production facilities.
5) We train our producers to graduate from our work.
This one can cause people to question our sanity. Our programs are set up so that our beneficiaries (the people whom we trained to become skilled workers) will graduate from our programs and move onto other careers. This is because we believe true empowerment to be people leading independent lives in their local context and being freed from international aid programs, including our own.
6) We are transparent.
Each product we make proudly displays the signature of the woman who made it. Most companies don't want to share about where their products are made, and they especially can't tell you who specifically created your item. We're creating a new breed of ethical fashion.
7) We are a non-profit organization.
One of the clearest indications of the heart for our work and the impact we create is represented in our incorporation status. We are a non-profit organization and this status helps us to partner with others (as well as communicate with you all) with an unwavering sense of clarity on our mission.
For these reasons, I believe KK intl. is the most unique apparel company on the planet. Call us crazy, and in that statement there may be some truth. However, when you witness the type of impact that this model is generating, you realize it's worth all the crazy the world contains.
P.S. You may know other people or organizations who endure some levels of crazy to love and care for others. Let us know who they are. We love making friends.