About two weeks ago, we had the opportunity to sit down and meet the good people over at AK Kerani. Like a lot of people these days, we first found out about each other through social media. What started out as a simple tweet eventually led to us linking up to discuss the opportunity of doing something together. Although you never know what to expect when you meet people for the first time, we have found the experience to be every bit positive and exciting to engage with others. With that being said, we met with Danielle and Jenna of AK Kerani to talk about what they are doing. Get to know AK Kerani, a knit fashion company that sells high quality handmade products to promote knitting as a therapeutic activity for those struggling with anxiety and depression.
Who are you?
Danielle (right): I'm Danielle Kerani, avid singer and songwriter from New York City. I'm a recent graduate from the Medill School of Journalism and Integrated Marketing Communications at Northwestern University, where I founded AK Kerani, an up-and-coming fashion business that sells handmade products and advocates for mental health. I believe in forming genuine connections with people even though opening up can be scary. I do most of my introspection while running. I hope that my work both with AK Kerani and the music I write can make a positive and meaningful impact on the world at large.
Jenna (left): That's a question that constantly presses on my mind, and It's hard to answer because frankly, I really don't know! The "me" I am today definitely isn't the "me" I was as a freshman in college. I will say that I am someone who's curious and passionate, who loves to meet and learn from the people around them. I may also be someone who takes simple questions and dives in a bit too deep (not that that's necessarily a bad thing!), so I'll also say that I'm the VP of Communications for AK Kerani and a recent Northwestern journalism graduate. I think the goal of a lot of life is to keep figuring out who you are and what drives you and asking questions like this is definitely the first step.
What is AK Kerani?
AK Kerani is a knit fashion company that sells high quality handmade products to promote knitting as a therapeutic activity for those struggling with anxiety and depression. We started as a team of college students at Northwestern and have expanded to include passionate individuals from Alaska to Latvia, who knit, produce and spark our company forward. We believe that mental health is a universal pursuit and that everyone should take steps constantly to ensure that they are moving forward with their ideal state in mind. Our products are fashionable and desirable. We hope that when people wear them, they will be consciously advocating for their own mental health and that of others.
Why anxiety & depression?
I started selling knit goods online before adding a social mission to the business. The business was created in honor of my uncle, Atindra Kumar Mitra who struggled with what we believe was schizophrenia. He was an inspiring figure because he still traveled the world, invested in others and pursued a career of excellence at the Air Force. He was brilliant, funny and moreover knew his limits. He worked hard to not let his struggles get the best of him which is something that I admire, want to emulate and encourage others to embody. At the time when I started AK Kerani, I was having my own problems with depression, anxiety and an eating disorder. My symptoms were so severe that I often couldn't get out of bed. Working on the business online while receiving help from those closest to me at the time, I was able to regain my strength. I was incredibly lucky to have the resources to get better and because of that, I want to provide resources to others in similar situations. I want to communicate hope and give strength just as it was given to me.
What's the ultimate goal for AK Kerani?
AK Kerani will grow to be a beacon of light within the fashion industry. Our products will be streamlined, unique and beautiful enough to attract the eyes of any fashion consumer, but unlike many of such products already in the market, ours bear a mission. We want our products to appeal to a wide audience so that people who find us for fashion become interested in mental health and people interested in mental health find a new niche within the fashion industry.
What advice would you give someone who is passionate about starting something?
Danielle: Just start it. I did. Don't wait until you think it's the right time or you have the right amount of resources. In fact, sometimes the time when you feel the least stable is the perfect time to start something. Let the venture you start boost you forward as a person. Use it as a tool for you to grow. My business has given me companions in life I never would have had. It's taken me across the world and most importantly, it's taught me to reinvent myself on a constant base. A business owner learns quickly that the world is always changing and he or she much find the consistencies. That's a lesson that can also be applied within oneself. We are all constantly changing but the consistencies within us will keep us grounded and give us the strength to embrace uncertainty.
Jenna: Whatever it is, do not wait. Find ways to begin acting on what you are passionate about, no matter how small the act is. Being unsure or afraid about something is often the mark that you are on the right path, but as long as you remain passionate, committed, and active, your effort will grow and evolve just as you do.