What if for-profit companies had values similar to nonprofits? Shouldn't all businesses be socially responsible and use their power of business to solve a social problem rather than be a money making machine? Recently, I came across KNO Clothing, an online clothing retailer which is trying to solve the problem of homelessness.
Never despise small beginnings. The vision for KNO Clothing was big -- to help end homelessness in United States. What started in one community a little less than a year ago is now a national fashion movement.
Shelter is one of the greatest needs of U.S. citizens today. Homelessness can affect everyone. Maurice Johnson -- an engineer with two Masters degrees -- was found homeless in Boston this past May. Studies estimate that among the nearly 2 million homeless youth in America, most are only between the ages of 15 and 17 ("Lost in the Shuffle: Culture of Homeless Adolescents"). Famous people from Ella Fitzgerald and Charlie Chaplin to Jim Carrey and Halle Berry have also experienced homelessness. TED Global speaker and award-winning journalist Becky Blanton, too. But KNO believes no one should go without a home.
The current count of people housed through KNO's partners stands at 10,658. KNO began by supporting Bethesda Mission in Harrisburg, PA and learned about the 100,000 Homes Campaign a few months later. The campaign's hope to house 100,000 Americans by July 2013 appealed to KNO and has thus blossomed into a collective dream encompassing the 90+ communities working to end homelessness across the country. On top of housing, nearly 400 articles of clothing have been given to people on the streets -- thanks to KNO Clothing's "Buy One, Give More" ethic.
The idea is that KNO Clothing offers regular people-- anyone who wears a t-shirt, or a dress, or a sweater -- a way to make a dent in the larger mission to end homelessness. Every purchase -- in fact, 50% of every purchase -- is used to help fund our partners' housing efforts and provide clean clothes to people in need. This fall, KNO co-founders Anthony Thomas and Stephen Caldwell will deliver more articles of clothing to people in need in New York City, Philadelphia and Harrisburg, PA.
KNO believes in the good life -- to enjoy, to work, and to love together. This belief is also why KNO is dedicated to using fair-trade cotton and eco-friendly blends for its clothing, to support the community behind the threads.
KNO Clothing is glad to have been featured by fashion bloggers like Blair Eadie of Atlantic-Pacific on Twitter. Sites such as StyleSalt, Freedom and Fashion, Fashion Grail, and TrendHunter have also featured KNO alongside written features from The Washington Times and Fine Living Lancaster magazine. This summer, Anthony Thomas spoke at a pre-conference session of the 2011 National Alliance to End Homelessness Conference in DC, where KNO also hosted a Happy Hour for its fans.
KNO is looking forward to another great season of new clothing and new successes in ending homelessness.
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