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Photo courtesy of Krochet Kids

Ellen Riley on Interning for a Fashionable Nonprofit That Empowers Women

This 22-year-old designs graphics for Krochet Kids International, an organization that employs women in impoverished nations by teaching them how to crochet.

CAUSE: Krochet Kids International, a nonprofit founded by Kohl Crecelius, Stewart Ramsey, and Travis Hartanov, is helping women in impoverished nations rise above poverty. Their economic model is both simple and sustainable: they teach women how to crochet, pay them for their work, and then sell their hats, scarves, and t-shirts. But what makes Krochet Kids stand out is that they've added a personal element to fashion and philanthropy. Each hat carries with it the signature of the woman who crocheted it. You can go online to learn more about the woman who made your hat, and see how your purchase directly helps her and her family. Most importantly, you can say thank you. Ellen Riley, a recent college graduate, is a graphics design intern for the organization.

GET INVOLVED: Buy a hat, start or join a campus club to bring Krochet Kids to your community, or volunteer for the organization. If you're New York-based, you can visit the Krochet Kids holiday pop-up shop in New York at Rudy's Barbershop in the Ace Hotel through Dec. 15.

"For one of my college classes, I had to design a promotional image for a nonprofit. I chose Krochet Kids because the organization is hip and trendy, and that's what I was interested in portraying. I continued to work on the piece for my portfolio, and then I sent it to Krochet Kids because I really wanted to work with the organization and be a part of what they do. The staffers said that they loved my work, and hired me to be an intern."

"Krochet Kids empowers people living in poverty. We work with women in Uganda and Peru and we offer them jobs, education, and mentorship so that they can get involved in their communities, and then in turn, help make their regions prosperous. The founders went over there and learned that instead of donations, women want jobs so they can provide for their families over time."

"The women in Uganda and Peru crochet hats for us as a job, and we give them a wage for their hard work. The really neat part about our organization is that the inside of each hat—or any crocheted item—has the woman's name in it, so you can actually go online to our website and thank the woman that made your hat and see the impact you're making in her life. She's then empowered as well because she realizes that people respect what she's done."

"I help put together the graphics that get used to help promote our organization—I design anything that might go up on our website or blog, and the images that get posted on our Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest boards. I also helped redesign our intern blog. I keep in mind the aesthetic of our brand and what we want to represent when I'm designing. There's this huge quote campaign for our 'Choices' campaign, and I did the quotes by hand instead of typing them out so that it has that handmade affect—that's the feel of our company."

"We share our story with people instead of just asking them to purchase something. People respond to the fact that they can choose to make a change on their own. I really feel like our model is different—sharing our story engages consumers."