Medill senior’s knitting business raises mental health awareness

Medill senior Danielle Kerani (right) poses with her business partner. Kerani founded a knitting company that promotes the activity as a therapeutic activity for the mentally ill.

Source: Danielle Kerani

Medill senior Danielle Kerani (right) poses with her business partner. Kerani founded a knitting company that promotes the activity as a therapeutic activity for the mentally ill.

Rebecca Savransky, Assistant Campus Editor

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In an effort to put her passion for knitting toward a good cause, Medill senior Danielle Kerani started a business selling her knit products to promote conversation on mental health and to encourage students to use knitting as a therapeutic activity.

She founded AK Kerani in 2011, she said. However, the business was not linked with mental health initiatives until the summer before her sophomore year when her uncle, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, died. The company’s name and mission is now dedicated to remembering her uncle’s legacy, Kerani said.

“I talked a lot about how my uncle had had schizophrenia and how he was still very functional and had known his limits and pursued his goals,” she said. “It worked out that I wanted to connect mental health with my uncle, but I also believed knitting was a good therapy for people who were feeling stressed.”

AK Kerani hosted an event Saturday at the Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago to spread the word about the company and bring together a large group of people. About 50 individuals attended the event, which included a presentation about the business and the opportunity to buy products. 

Kerani hopes to plan more programs featuring the company’s products, to create knitting support groups and rehabilitation programs for students and to further promote open conversation on the mental health aspect of the business through social media and other platforms.

The company’s immediate goal is to create more interactive website features including an open forum element, AK Kerani’s media chair Jenna Frasier said. One of AK Kerani’s goals is to eliminate the stereotypes that come with mental disorders, the Medill senior said.

“The main thing to reduce stigma is to really open spaces for conversation amongst followers of AK Kerani, in Facebook, friends that we gain through social media, Twitter,” Frasier said. “We’re constantly re-blogging articles, magazines, newspapers that have a mental health or anxiety-related theme or something like that.”

After graduation, Kerani said she wants to spread the mission to New York and eventually open a retail space. The unique brand, in combination with its social mission, has the potential to be very successful, Kerani said. 

“My hope is we’re looking to become a very legitimate fashion brand,” she said.

AK Kerani has released an official collection for both fall and winter thus far, and the business is hoping to continue expanding and improving the company and its mission.

Kerani said although the business has taken several years to develop, she is ready and excited to take it to the next level and devote more time to it after graduation.

“I think I have had a hard time dealing with being in college and the emotions involved and balancing everything I’m doing,” Kerani said. “It has taken me a while to be able to invest my all in the business, but now I’m in the right place.”