Archives for April 2016

Presenting and Networking – social media up…

Presenting and Networking – social media up…

imagesWe’re moving ahead.  Had a great presentation at UConn for a program on New Frontiers in Fair Trade.  Loved meeting Robert and Noushin of Vega Coffee – what a great business model.  Direct buy hand roasted coffee, days fresh, straight from Nicaragua – delicious!
Then it was on to pitch KUSIKUY at the Franklin County Chamber of Commerce breakfast.  Great veggi omelet made with local potatoes from the farmer down the road.
Our social media is growing – come like and follow KUSIKUYCo on Instagram and Pinterest.
52Loving the work of Mario Testino, especially in Peru – reminds me of another favorite, Jan Saudek of Czechoslovakia (when it still was).

Travel to Bolivia – May 8th

Travel to Bolivia – May 8th

Exciting news.  I’ll be traveling to Bolivia for a short visit to oversee production, labeling and review construction details so the KUSIKUY glitten truly is the best glitten ever!  I will also be  documenting the knitting lifestyle.  Right now we’re deciding which technology is best – DSLR or Mirrorless for capturing small videos and photos of the women’s life on film.  What do you think?

mask 2I am amassing face masks, head lamps and reading glasses to help make knitting a more comfortable endeavor for our elite artisans.  We’re looking for donations!  Please mail items to PO Box 2293, Brattleboro, VT  05303 or contact me.

I’ll be returning with supplies for our Kickstarter campaign – bringing back Bolivian gifts and prototype glittens to offer to the folks who support the re-launch.  What would you want to receive with a kickstarter?  Charango guitars?  Pan flutes?  Chairo soup?  Dried llama meat?  Bolivian coffee?  Chocolate?  Backpack?gifts 2

Shark Tank!

Shark Tank!

Kusikuy_FB_ProfileIcon_v1I was just getting off the plane in San Fransisco when I checked my phone and saw that there had been a missed call from the office of Kevin Harrington on my phone. They contacted me because Kevin Harrington of Shark Tank wanted to talk to me about new programming featuring KUSIKUY.  What?!
I put my pitch talents into full gear, calling upon all support mentors, friends and colleagues to help coach me through this.
I was scheduled for a phone conversation the following week and I was ready!  I had been doing lots of internet research and watching tons of Shark Tank footage, getting a real feel for the show and the people.  In the process I had found a small site of complaints against Kevin for selling them a $19,000 infomercial package, and not a spot on Shark Tank.  Hmmm.
Anyway I prepared for the best, stayed positive and had a great conversation with Ron Rubin in production.  I pitched them that we can collaborate together through KUSIKY to bring their As Seen on TV and Shark Finds brand to a large and growing sustainable, luxury market.  Waiting to see what will happen next!

 

 

And when I’m not “KUSIKUYing” I’m mentoring 28+ student enterprises!

And when I’m not “KUSIKUYing” I’m mentoring 28+ student enterprises!

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With MHC student entrepreneurs (I’m on the far left) on the way home from San Fransisco after a successful weekend at CGIU.

It’s been a busy year at Mount Holyoke College (MHC) where I am the  Entrepreneurship Coordinator and Visiting Lecturer in Economics.  Things began getting very busy when my students began winning competitions and making it into final rounds for entrepreneurship presentations and pitches this past month.  Last week I traveled to UC Berkley with with 15 MHC students who were invited to attend the Clinton Global Initiative University, based on a competitive application process.  They engaged in innovation and leadership in education, health care, justice and environmental challenges.  

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CGIU winners!

While there, I made up a list of all of the enterprises I am working on.  It turns out there are now 28 active student social enterprises (up from the 3 that were there when I started this job in September 2015) that I am mentoring/coaching at MHC!  So far they have generated over $6,000 in revenue though I expect that to triple by the end of  this month with their participation in the Draper Competition,  Grinsoon Banquet, and CGIU Foundation funds!  

Some student enterprises arose from my classroom, others from our weekly Entrepreneurship Learning Lunches and others from classroom projects that inspired action.  

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My students at the SIT Institute busy creating social marketing solutions for the local Winter Famers Market in Brattleboro, Vermont.

So proud of the ladies at MHC (women’s college) and the awesome work they are doing.  Projects range from apps that help with diet, business and safety  management to conflict transformation training programs rom Columbia, water pumps in Kenya,  air masks made from water bottles in China, artisan production in Rwanda, Malawi, work study in Ethiopia, rape prevention and health training programs in Bangladesh, trauma art therapy in Nepal, and more!

Kudos to he 18 SIT Graduate Institute students who worked with me to create wonderful solutions for better customer retention and involvement at the Brattleboro Winter Farmers Market!

 

Moving along – on Target!

Moving along – on Target!

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KUSIKUY unveiled – mock ups of hand tags and labels. Production in the print shop now!

 

Things are cooking here at KUSIKUY.  With our first order of mittens in production, labels and tags being finalized and social media getting coordinated, it feels as if we are putting the last coat of wax on our showroom floors!

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KUSIKUY – a tradition of attention to detail and fine handcrafting with the world’s best materials.

It has been an amazing journey re-discovering my beloved clothing company and imagining our future.  I come form a long line of NYC entrepreneurs, my father is one and my grandfather too and back in the old country my great grandparents were also entrepreneurs.  However, rather than hand down a single company from generation to generation, we chose to be a family of stubborn entrepreneurs, with each of us growing (and selling) our own enterprises: my great grandparents were jewelers, grandfather a processor of precious metals, my father a dental equipment manufacturer and myself a fine, handmade clothier.  Though we did not pass down our enterprises, we did pass down a strong business ethic, shrewdness, discerning eye for detail, an innate honesty and a commitment to labor, being sure to provide the best working conditions and benefits to secure a committed, talented force.  I bring this NYC sensibility to KUSIKUY carefully choosing the best designers and brand agents in New York to bring contemporary styling to Andean heritage and make world famous sustainable luxury.

Graduating the Mentorship

Graduating the Mentorship

Wow!  6 months ago, the KUSIKUY relaunch was an idea.  I was going to mom & pop – DIY the glittens along with the knitters, struggling ceato keep prices low and quality high, squeezing corners and still not getting it to work out.  Selling KUSIKUY as “eco ethical” and trying appeal to the amorphous “eco friendly” market.  Then I met John Sorontino of the Cambridge Entrepreneur Academy and he changed my life.  “These are the best mittens in the world!” he exclaimed and then went on to show me how they were, and he was right!

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KUSIKUY mittens are hand knit by Bolivia’s elite knitters, descendants of the clothiers of great pre-Incan kings.

 

Made of the finest fiber in the world – Bolivian alpaca is scientifically proven to be of the highest quality there is and a direct lineage from the original herds of Incan kings.  With production by elite knitters, and descendants of Incan courtiers,  And a rich, deep history of dating back to the world’s greatest ancient empire, KUSIKUY brings the heritage of Andean luxury to today’s royalty.

Working with Valley Venture Mentors and the many other folks who helped along the way: Jennifer Williams of Verilliance, Amy Shapiro from the CDC,  Rob LaPorte of 2Disc, and many more.  KUSIKUY is now emerging as a leading Sustainable Luxury Brand.  Even more awesome I just graduated from the VVM mentorship program with a great cohort of 8 other entrepreneurs looking to make a difference and bring amazing products and services to the world.  Now it’s actually happening…

1000 stitches

1000 stitches

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KUSIKUY – hand knit with love by 20 generations of royal Inca artisans.

Each KUSIKUY glove is knit with at least 1,000 stitches.

Blogger Brandie wrote this beautiful poem about knitting 1,000 stitches and it so perfectly echoes the sentiments the KUSIKUY knitters share with me as they knit, imagining who the busy person in a far away land wearing their knits will be…

And as I knit each stitch for you,
I knit in prayers of happiness and joy
I knit in wishes of a life of lots of laughter
I knit in hopes of goodness and lots of smiles
I knit in hugs and love for the moments you need them, despite hoping you never will
I knit in thoughts that you will have a well-knit community around you.
This is what I knit for you.

As I knit, my anxiety slips off like a stitch being dropped
As I knit, the sadness I carry lightens
As I knit, worries about my health disappear
As I knit, I feel like I’ve found my place in the world
As I knit, I am filled with joy and happiness as I picture you with the finished product
This is what I knit for me.

I knit for you
I knit for me
As the yarn is joined together, for a moment, so are we
Just for a moment. 
As I knit each stitch for you

Thank you, Brandie and all of the world’s  amazing knitters.