Now days so many companies are going green/supporting worthy causes because it’s the “fashionable thing to do” or simply because it’s good for their image and will in turn increase their sales… Some may argue the ethics in doing something right for the wrong reason.. however today I want to focus more on the idea of using business to aid a cause.
For every action there is a reaction. TOM’s shoes is probably one of the most famous fashion labels that is strongly affiliated with a cause. Their “One for One” program (you buy a pair of shoes and they give a pair away to someone in need) is currently going through some rough patches. They have indirectly affected the local markets of the places where they donate their shoes; taking away business/the lively-hood of local shoe vendors. TOM’s is fully aware of this problem and they are currently working on a way(s) to fix this. My point/purpose with bringing up TOM’s is that they are not the only ones that have unintentionally negatively affected certain communities in which they were trying to help. It’s not all glitz and glamour especially when it comes to fashion with a purpose.
Which leads me to the topic du jour: KNO Clothing
I had the privilege and honor of meeting Anthony Thomas, one of the co-founders of KNO Clothing. Driven, resilient, ambitious, genuine, and passionate are the words that come to mind when describing Anthony. He has been on an amazing journey with co-founder Stephen Caldwell; putting together this clothing line.
KNO Clothing is a for-profit business that has a very clear/bold mission to end homelessness; donating up to 50% of their revenue to the cause. How KNO Clothing came into existence is pretty straightforward. Anthony and Stephen both saw a need in their community of Harrisburg PA and they did something about it. They saw homeless people in their day to day routines and instead of dehumanizing them or judging them, they showed compassion and got to know them as real individuals, who have stories and needs. Anthony and Stephen created a social entrepreneurship venture that innovatively used fashion as a venue/platform to end homelessness.
There are two ways that KNO Clothing is tackling this epic mission. The first way is by taking care of the immediate needs of the homeless. For example they distribute socks. I’ll explain.. most of us take for granted the ability we have to change our socks daily as well as having the option of washing our socks on a regular basis. Homeless people don’t necessarily have this luxury. What can end up happening is that they wear the same pair of socks for prolonged periods of time without washing them. The socks become dirty, hard and uncomfortable to wear. Uncomfortable socks paired with falling apart shoes makes walking around that much more uncomfortable. Therefore distributing socks is a great basic way to aid the homeless on an immediate/tangible level. The other part to ending homelessness is the obvious; to get these people off the streets, into homes and on their way to living productive/self-sustaining lives. KNO Clothing has partnered with different organizations that share this passion for the homeless and specialize in ending homelessness. What I strongly liked about this model was that instead of creating yet another organization to end homelessness they are partnering up with organizations that already exist and share the same vision.
(The picture above is of Co-founders Stephen Caldwell (on the left) and Anthony Thomas (on the right) distributing socks. Photo taken by Amy Spangler)
On a personal note what I love about the co-founders of KNO Clothing is that this mission to end homelessness is not a trend or a gimmick to increase sales to benefit themselves. They are both supernaturally passionate about this cause and they are very hands on.
What started as a small start-up company in Harrisburg PA with humble beginnings and huge dreams, has grown substantially and has helped homeless people all over the United States. They will continue their noble mission until homelessness is extinct.
I would like to close this article with four video interviews of homeless people that the organization Invisible People (another similar group that works with the homeless) has interacted with. I love how these videos really put a face on the issue of homelessness. I think a lot of people pre-judge and have these fixed notions about why the homeless are homeless; I think these videos shed a lot of light onto the subject. Once I started watching these videos I legit could not stop. Here are a few that I watched:
To watch even more video interviews with the homeless here is a link to Invisible People’s youtube channel:
INVISIBLE PEOPLE TV
If you were as touched as I was about this whole cause and want to check out KNO Clothing’s online store or get in contact and see how you can personally can get envolved here is a link to their website: