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We talk with CEO and co-founder of Krochet Kids about $500,000 win
It's been a whirlwind.
For the past few weeks, Costa Mesa-based nonprofit Krochet Kids international has been reaching out to its network of friends and supporters, asking them to go online to vote for the organization, which helps empower and employ women in Uganda and Peru by teaching them how to crochet products to sell to raise funds to live.
On Saturday night, Krochet Kids was in the national spotlight during an awards ceremony for a contest put on by Chase Bank called American Giving Awards, which aired on NBC and gave big exposure to the local brand.
Krochet Kids was among 25 brands in the running for a total $2 million in awards, with the top prize at $1 million. The group came in second, based on the number of online votes generated, and earned $500,000.
We caught up with CEO and co-founder Kohl Crecelius, 27, of Newport Beach, to talk about the experience and what the win means for Krochet Kids.
Q. How did you generate support for votes?
A. For us, so much about our brand – and the community that has grown to support our brand – has come through this web of relationships, friendships and outreach. One of the most effective things we did was have everyone here send direct emails and messages, one at a time. We were really just humbled by how our audience responded to that. We were going back to friends from high school who we haven't talked to in six years, to more recent friends who voted and shared on our behalf. That was one of the most successful things for us.
Q. What does this win mean for what you can do with this nonprofit?
A. There's a lot of conversation we still need to have around this. It will enable us to expand our work in Peru. Our work there has only been done during the past year, and we have some big needs like buying more machines and a bigger space to put more people. We were running out of room in our current office in Peru. That will be fantastic, that will allow us to set the pace for us to grow in the future. It allows us to take a breath and look at the infrastructure of our organization, to put some building blocks in place to help us thrive for years to come. We're a small staff – there's only 10 of us in the U.S. office managing ... everything.
Q. What would you like to say to all the supporters who helped you guys succeed?
A. Oh my gosh, so much. Overall, we were really humbled and really grateful for everyone who got involved in this contest. We realize that our reach is small, and we've built our brand around the people who support us and believe in what we do. We don't exist without those people; we're grateful for people who take on our mission and believe in us so much. After the whole week ended, we were in tears thinking about how gracious and giving people were in spreading the word, and we were just blown away.
Q. When did it settle in that you won?
A. I don't think it even has. It's still pretty surreal. Overall we're like – that's an insane amount of money. We've never received this big of an amount from grant or donation, so we don't know how we feel or how we're supposed to be feeling.
Q. How did it feel to be onstage and know that viewers from around the nation were watching?
A. I never want to do another award show (laughs). The whole couple days leading up to that, we felt great about our effort. There were no guarantees and we didn't know until we went up to the stage. I'm not a nervous or anxious person, and I was nervous
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