by Morgan Harlan
In 2011, as a Northwestern freshman, Danielle Kerani founded AK Kerani, a fashion company that sells high quality, handmade knit goods to promote knitting as a therapeutic activity for anxiety and depression. The company aims to “reduce the stigmas surrounding mental illness” by creating safe spaces and providing outlets for people to discuss mental illnesses.
While the company certainly has a wide-reaching impact, its origin stems from a much more personal place. AK Kerani is dedicated to Danielle’s uncle, Atindra Kumar who passed away in 2011. Despite his struggles with schizophrenia, he was able to overcome a number of boundaries and excel in both his professional and personal lives.
GES played a large role in AK Kerani's development as Danielle was a GES delegate in both 2012 and 2013. She continues to remain active in the GES community by visiting and keeping in touch with fellow delegates after her graduation in 2014.
AK Kerani is now in the process of becoming a for-profit/non-profit hybrid. The company’s new program hosts relevant mental health discussions in settings including corporate offices and schools, and Danielle follows the discussion with an interactive session where she teaches participants how to knit.
“The goal is to build positive associations with mental health conversation,” she said. “And to provide as many people as possible with the knowledge of knitting as a potential creative outlet for their stress or anxiety.”
AK Kerani’s creation has been a long and rich journey for Danielle and the rest of the company’s team. In order to help AK Kerani continue to grow, the GES alum will be marketing a Kickstarter through March. To support AK Kerani and for more information on the company’s backstory, visit the Kickstarter page.