What began as a solution to producing handknitted garments offshore is now a sisterhood of artisans and a business with the United Nations’ Global Goals for Sustainable Development entwined in the DNA of Handknits. We chat to Danielle Chiel, founder of Handknits to learn more about the life-changing work they are doing in Tamil Nadu, India.
1. What makes your company Best For The World?
We change lives in rural villages in Tamil Nadu, India, by educating and employing women to hand-knit for fashion brands. We connect makers, brands and consumers through handknitting. Each garment comes with a swing tag featuring a photo of the lady who hand-knitted the garment, her name and a QR code which links the consumer to a webpage dedicated to that artisan’s story.
Fashion brands can now inform their customers of where their garments were made, exactly who made them and the impact this work has had on the artisan’s life. We are handknitting the world together.
The United Nation’s Global Goals for Sustainable Development are entwined in our DNA. Of the 17 goals, we are contributing to eight by operating our business in a transparent way.
These goals are: No poverty, Zero hunger,Good health and well-being, Gender equality, Clean water and sanitation, Decent work and economic growth, Sustainable cities and communities & Responsible consumption and production
2. What makes you stand out from other companies?
We became a certified B Corp in March 2017. In 2019, Common Objective recognised us as a leading artisan manufacturer in the 2019 CO Leadership Awards.
Building connection makes us stand out in the world of manufacturing. We understand consumers want to know so much more about the impact their purchases are having on the planet and people. Our production process is personalised, handmade, and connects brands with consumers in a meaningful way.
Clothing with a powerful story is the next big thing in fashion. We believe it matters for consumers to know not only how their clothes are made, but also who makes them.
We are delighted that our clients are taking up the opportunity to pair KOCO-branded swing tags alongside their own, giving customers a direct link to the artisan who handknitted that garment.
With our swing tags, consumers can learn each garment is made by hand from the first stitch to the last — no machine intervention, no carbon footprint — by a woman who is now earning a stable income which is transforming not only her life but the future of her family.
3. How do you plan to celebrate?
Our celebration will be to set up a new handknitting hub in another rural village in Tamil Nadu, India. We will employ, educate and train 30 women to handknit for this project. By employing these 30 women we will directly impact 180 lives; the family members each artisan supports.
News of this new concept will be shared with our network of clients. It is because of their support and belief in our business that we are able to extend our work, employ more women, transform more lives and impact more people around the world. We are handknitting the world together!
4. Part of being “Best for the World” is striving to always use your business as a force for good. What initiatives do you have planned for the coming year to continue to be Best for the World?
We are always thinking about ways to diversify our business and connect more lives around the world through handknitting.
Handknitting is a fashion form, an art and a careful science which means love. Most people in the western world have fond memories of receiving a handknitted jumper. It was always made with the wearer in mind, by someone who loved them.
We want more people around the world to feel this love.
Every time we tell our story to brands or to friends, family, acquaintances, or attendees at conferences, people want to know how they can purchase a product, partner with us, or somehow be part of Knit One Change One.
Our initiatives in the coming year aim to educate people that unless they own a jumper which has transformed someone’s life they will never feel truly warm. Through our new project to start another handknitting hub dedicated to a B2C concept, we will connect directly with consumers.
Each product we launch in the coming year will give people the opportunity to purchase gifts and garments with meaning. Every product will come with our swing tags which tell the story of the artisan who made that piece.
We will continue to help brands connect with their customers by manufacturing garments with a powerful and engaging story.
We are also exploring partnership opportunities to employ more women in rural southern India. These partnerships will spread the love of doing business for good around the world.
5. What advice do you have for other B Corps and purpose-led businesses that want to improve their impact?
B Corp is an invaluable resource for understanding how business can make a meaningful impact on people, planet and communities. Connecting with B Corp’s resources is a great first step.Fundamentally, you need to do what you love. If you have a passion, motivation and resilience to stay true to your vision of making an impact, you will have a solid foundation.The network of businesses with purpose is growing. Each has enormous heart and is willing to extend the hand of friendship help you make a difference.Don’t be afraid to grab this hand and hang on for the best ride of your life.