The objective of KidKnits is to use knitting kits to create a market for the hand-made yarn from Rwanda, which in turn provides for the livelihood of ten widows and their families. In order to put these craft kits together, we are purchasing small plastic knitting looms from China. While we would certainly prefer that the looms also were hand made in Africa, at this point we haven’t been able to find such a source. While we have no guaranteed way of knowing the working conditions or wages of the workers in China, we believe strongly that inclusion of these looms in no way diminishes the fair trade nature of the yarn coming from Rwanda, as well as the bags which are also hand-made in Rwanda, by another group of widows, this one Amahoro ava Hejuru.
In any case, we are importing looms from China. We are passing a major milestone this weekend, as one thousand plastic looms ship out of the Ningbo port in northern China this weekend, destined for Houston, before completing their journey to Austin where they will be combined with our Rwandan yarn to become a KidKnits craft kit. On Thursday evening, we received notice that we had 24 hours to submit an ISF (International Shipping Federation) form, or else we would be assessed a $5000 fine. Needless to say, $5000 fine would be a huge problem for us, as we’ve yet to generate our first dollar of income! We started searching immediately for someone to help us with this, and were lucky to find John and ACM Logistics out of Houston. John jumped on our request for help Friday morning, did an excellent job of explaining the entire process of importing to me mid-day, and by 3:30, we had filed our ISF form, avoiding that huge fine. Next time you need international shipping and customs assistance (if you think that will never happen, I assure you I thought the same thing three months ago), give John a call!