KNO Clothing, a Philadelphia-based company headed up by Stephen Caldwell and Anthony Thomas, launched a Kickstarter campaign to manufacture their own t-shirts in the US. The company currently sells fair-trade and eco-friendly clothing that aids homeless populations.
“We wanted to take our interest in fashion and pair it with our desire to help our neighbors,” said Caldwell in an e-mail. “When we think of neighbors, we think of people that live in houses but in reality, in an urban environment, our neighbors can be individuals that sleep on our doorsteps and not inside a door.”
Many companies today use “one for one” model (like TOMS and Warby Parker), but Caldwell and Thomas are striving to take it a step further with a “Buy One, Give More” model. That means that for each shirt that is purchased, they hand deliver a shirt to a homeless person and donate funds to an organization that works with the homeless.
KNO works with local organizations and shelters across the U.S. to provide articles of clothing and also donate funds to Bethesda Mission in Harrisburg and the 100,000 Homes campaign. To date, KNO has handed out over 4,000 articles of clothing and donated thousands of dollars to homeless advocacy organizations.
Caldwell and Thomas both have full time jobs – Caldwell works in finance in Philadelphia and Thomas works in New York in fundraising.
“It is still a side project however it is becoming evident that the movement is growing and we’re hoping this campaign will really push us to create something bigger,” he said.
The funds raised from Kickstarter will allow KNO Clothing to take control of their manufacturing process. Right now, the company does its own screen printing but sources shirts from American Apparel and Anvil. The goal is to start purchasing their own t-shirts from a worker-owned factory in North Carolina and use organically grown, chemical-free cotton grown in Texas.
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“We know that by just providing articles of clothing that we’re not creating solutions to the issue of homelessness. To end homeless we need to provide homes,” Caldwell said. “Our partners are the best at what they do and it’s providing permanent housing to those that lack this basic need.”-30-
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