Normalizing fair trade fashion would be the pinnacle of our success
Apparel brand and platform for social good KNOWN SUPPLY, was founded in 2017, but it was the result of a decade of experience running a social enterprise in the ethical fashion space. Co-founder Kohl Crecelius shares his story with MaCher….
Where did the idea for KNOWN SUPPLY come from?
My business partner and I started a headwear brand in 2007 to provide meaningful employment and pathways out of poverty for women in Africa and South America (ed. note: Krochet Kids). We witnessed first-hand the life-changing and generational improvements of empowering women and communities through fair paying jobs and community support. There was no turning back.
And your passion for business with purpose…?
It’s always been more about the purpose. Business is simply a tool to create more impact. Our first venture was a non-profit organization, but we later saw the greater opportunity for scaling the impact we could have by establishing a benefit corporation to leverage profitable growth.
How do you think that being a B Corp can make a difference in how or what people buy?
I believe we all want to buy better. If given the option between similar products, but one has a positive impact those choice is pretty simple. The B Corp certification is one lens that shoppers can view their purchasing through to help them make better decisions.
From the point of view of businesses, it is creating a supportive ecosystem to accelerate knowledge and communities to improve practices. This has an exponential impact we have only begun to witness.
How much does your business look to other B Corps as partners/suppliers?
We love partnering with other B Corps. The solidarity of such partnerships allows for a common understanding out of the gates and only furthers the missional foundation we stand upon.
In our industry (fashion / apparel) we lean heavily into collaborations as a mechanism for creating greater change. Our belief is that anyone selling merchandise should be using sustainably-made and Fair Trade Certified clothing and accessories. Not only does this reinforce their values as a business, but it also plays an important role in shifting shoppers’ perceptions.
The more people see ethical merchandise in the marketplace, the more they begin to expect it from other brands they shop. This normalization of fair trade fashion would be the pinnacle of our success.
The future success for our business would be to create more partnerships with more like-minded businesses so that we could create more fair jobs for clothing makers globally.
What are your key learnings from the process of becoming B Corp certified?
It’s always interesting to have an objective evaluation of the values you hold as important for your business. The B Corp framework is a great tool for internal evaluation, as well as comparison to similar businesses in your industry. I believe you need to take these scores with a grain of salt, but to let them teach you where the broader movement of “business as social good” is heading.
Who is your sustainability hero?
I’ve always admired the work of one of the sustainability greats, Yvon Chouinard from Patagonia. More recently, I have been inspired and encouraged by so many of the women, and in particular women of color, who are leading the sustainability conversation into the future. Women like Aurora James of Brother Vellies, Brittany Sierra of the Sustainable Fashion Forum, and Dominique Drakeford of Sustainable Brooklyn.
This article has been posted by MaCher to celebrate B Corp Month 2021 and build awareness of companies that meet the highest standard of verified social and environmental performance. For more information about KNOWN SUPPLY, please click here.