Care about other people. Nobody is going to care about your work or want to help you out, if you don’t extend that courtesy to them.
Kohl has over a decade of experience as a social entrepreneur in the fashion industry. Through his work as CEO & Co-founder Krochet Kids intl., and now KNOWN SUPPLY, he has worked to create sustainable social impact models on the ground and greater awareness to shoppers about the impacts of their purchases. His brands are distributed internationally through their website and at retailers such as Whole Foods and REI. Kohl is a husband, a father, a surfer and a passionate communicator who seeks to encourage and inspire a new generation of socially minded businesses.
For over a decade, Kohl Crecelius & Travis Hartanov have worked to better connect our world through the clothing we wear. While in college they founded the social enterprise headwear brand Krochet Kids intl. and started two international production facilities in Uganda and Peru in order to provide meaningful employment and services to women affected by poverty. Partnerships with Nordstrom, Vans Shoes, Volcom, Whole Foods and others helped to establish their position as thought leaders in the movement toward social good in business.
In 2017, the duo decided to launch a new kind of company to not only further the positive social impact through their work, but to grow the social good space as a whole through a business to business model. KNOWN SUPPLY is more than a brand, it is an apparel platform that gives individuals and companies alike the opportunity to align their values with their product offering. By offering premium apparel produced at their facilities in Peru, and a transparent supply chain which offers customers the opportunity to connect with the specific person who made their product. A hand-signed tag and a robust online profile of every maker is available for customers to view and even write a personal note to them.
It is KNOWN SUPPLY’s belief that the more shoppers put people first when it comes to making their purchasing decisions, the clothing industry will too. Collectively, the apparel industry will be told that all people are valuable, and in the process, the lives of the millions of people who are a part of it will be changed.
Where did the idea for KNOWN SUPPLY come from?
My business partner and I founded a social good headwear company in 2007 — Krochet Kids intl. — and through that learned innumerable lessons about ways to leverage fashion to positively impact people worldwide. One of our biggest takeaways after running this brand for 10 years was the need for a greater awareness surrounding the people behind the clothing we buy. We decided to take our transparent business model, where we introduce each shopper to the person who made their garment, and make it available to other brands, companies, and individuals. In doing so, we hope to utilize our expertise to make anyone a social good brand and together we can share a louder message of transparency.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
The order can vary slightly, but the elements are typically the same. Wake up early, go on a run, make coffee (chemex) and breakfast. I typically spend the first half of the day writing and/or doing research, and the afternoons will be spent taking meetings and responding to emails. For me, productivity is best when I am doing the right activities at the right times of the day, saving my most concentration-heavy work for the mornings.
How do you bring ideas to life?
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I love to see more people infusing social impact into the fabric of what they are building. I believe impact happens best when it’s baked into the operations and DNA of a company and I think that’s the long-term strategy for success.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Exercise. The health benefits and the act of working it into my schedule helps to organize my days/weeks.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Focus on your strengths.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I’m really funny.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Travel. Get outside of your own head and the community you know to experience something different. If you can find ways to experience different cultures in the process.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Care about other people. Nobody is going to care about your work or want to help you out, if you don’t extend that courtesy to them. Amazing business opportunities have come from friends and acquaintances those relationships weren’t originally based in business at all. At times, those relationships circle back around years later.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
There were points in our business where we prioritized our social impact over the health of our business and it almost sunk us. As a result, we had a to take a longer term view on what social impact meant and ultimately decide that longevity and consistency in fewer impacts was better than having our business fail entirely. Thus, business health was the sure way to create our social impacts.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I need a ping pong coach. One of your readers should do that. I’ll hire them.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I spent the day at Disneyland with my family. Seeing that place through the eyes of my two year old was priceless and it was a great family memory before our family. This was technically on a work day too people!
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Calendly.com — an online scheduling service. I often get requests for informational interviews or aspiring entrepreneurs, and I used to feel terrible turning them down or I would take too many calls and complicate my schedule. Now, I set aside a block of time every other week and let people schedule 30 min. phone calls. It makes the exchange so much more seamless and takes the stress of these interactions out of the equation for me.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Essentialism” by Greg McKeown. In life and in business, our successes shouldn’t be defined by how many great things we accomplish, but how well we accomplish the absolutely most important stuff. This book explores this and it’s great.
What is your favorite quote?
Speaking to my above responses about travel:
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all of one’s life.” – Mark Twain
- Make your schedule work for you and your productivity habits. Don’t let it control you.
- Infuse social impact into your work, but don’t let it sink you.
- Get out and experience the world beyond your work. It’s a big, beautiful world out there.
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Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.