Since late 2010 pals Anthony Thomas and Stephen Caldwell have been working to snuff out homelessness through one ambitious clothing company.
The budding entrepreneurs met in college, where they bonded over a mutual passion for all things sartorial. When they began talking about starting their own fashion company there was one thing that kept tugging on their coats: the homeless. The people they passed on the street each day — the people they found more difficult to overlook — became a focal point. KNO Clothing was born with three T-shirt designs being sold around the holidays to raise money and awareness, but their experiment held people's interest even after the yuletide cheer wore off.
"Folks started contacting us," says Thomas. "They wanted to know what they could do to help in their communities." This good-Samaritan curiosity ran like veins across state lines, spreading the word of a clothing company that gives half its profits to help provide shelter to those in need.
While they're headquartered in our fair city and recruiting local designers, the company is stretching out and doing "deliveries" in Harrisburg, New York and Houston, where they team up with the likes of Bethesda Mission and 100,000 Homes Campaign to donate " a lot of socks and underwear," says Thomas. "It's what people on the streets really need."
To date, KNO has secured practical housing situations for 12,000 people. "It's government housing or low-income places, something stable," explains Thomas. "Clothing is temporary. We're trying to provide something permanent."