One Piece Vancouver and The Get Warm Project

Krista McKenna is not only a long-time friend who offered me amazing support during my journey to launching my first book - Life Outside the Box - she is someone I admire. She is a crazy mix of creativity, business sense, craftsmanship, drive, dedication and non-stop energy with a passion for supporting those in need. The number of responsibilities she juggles every day is impressive. New ideas are always on the horizon. 

When McKenna looked for a relaxing hobby that would help her walk away from the pressures of entrepreneurship at the end of a day, crocheting seemed the answer. BUT - it wasn't long before her unique original creations fashioned out of high quality yarns began to garner attention. What started as a hobby soon became One Piece Vancouver.  

As one of the founders of the Get Warm Project which creates bundles of winter warmth to hand out to needy individuals, it was no surprise to me she decided to create a campaign this year where 15% of her One Piece Vancouver sales be donated directly to this deserving charity effort.

As always - I find the story of someone's journey a great way to introduce what they are doing, so I quickly reached out to McKinna with this Q and A. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did and that you find yourself inspired to check out both the Get Warm Project and One Piece Vancouver!

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Please share a bit about who you are and some of the things you are involved with.

I am one bad-ass homebody. I love to spend my downtime listening to old record, sipping tea, crocheting with my fur kids and husband - maybe watch a little Breaking Bad or Dexter too. My nature is extreme. I don’t do anything half-fast. I fixate. 

Oddly enough, about four to five years ago, I found that with my day to day work (Small business developer and Consultant/Strategist) I didn’t ever find time to ‘unplug’. I've been privileged enough to own and operate my own businesses for about seven years full time, and if you know anything about being your own boss, you know that there is ALWAYS something to do. I noticed unhealthy behaviours developing within my home life, simply because even when I was at home, I was still mentally at work. I needed to change that.

Enter Crocheting...........................

I happen to love fashion and accessorizing. I also have particular tastes when it comes to materials and fabrics because I have sensitive skin. Because of that, whenever it came time to find a nice bulky scarf for myself, I could never find the quality of material I wanted with the look and bulkiness I wanted, within what I felt was a reasonable price point. It was extremely frustrating! Then, as I continued my hunt, I found the details of the scarves available to be too much for my personal taste. About five years ago I got fed up and decided to stop spending money on crappy scarves.  

I vaguely remembered being taught how to crochet and knit by my grandmothers when I was younger - although it dropped out of sight when I entered my teen years - and I didn't remember it being THAT hard, so I hit up Michaels. The skills I learned when young quickly returned and there was a side benefit - crocheting offered a relaxing way to unplug from the stresses of running a business. A short while later, I was making all the styles of scarves I wanted, in all the ways I wanted. Friends and family noticed, and gradually I was making scarves daily for my amazing and supportive clients. 

How did this lead you to launch One Piece Vancouver and when did it launch?

It was honestly just a personal project in the beginning. I really enjoyed making myself the styles I wanted and had a huge amount in my personal collection. People would always stop me in the streets and ask me where I had gotten my scarves, and their surprise at the knowledge that I had made it told me something was there to catch on. Then I started to get private requests and custom orders, and it grew from there. 

Talk about your creations? Style - purpose - yarns - palette?

The One Piece Vancouver style is BIG and BULKY. I love thick heavy and structured looks. Scarves that eat your head. That is my favourite and hey, it happens to work wonders in the cold chills of Vancouver too! Especially since I am a very outdoorsy and active gal. Each scarf is designed as if I would wear in myself. I personally have a neutral color wardrobe, so prefer greys, blacks and cream, but always have to some colours, especially at least one rich red. 

Yarn is super important to me. I am very anti-synthetic. I special order all my yarns in bulk from ethical and eco friendly suppliers internationally, and personally design and make every scarf. I don’t follow any specific patterns or counts, so literally every single scarf is different from another, even if it might look the same. My yarns are also hand-dyed, which makes each skein a different pattern. This gives really nice texture.

Who is your customer?

My customer is an individual who appreciates the fine details in life. Someone who FEELS texture and materials and has a intense response to it. Not afraid to wear statement. Not afraid to be bold. Someone completely content in being their true self.

Do you have a personal favourite piece? 

That's hard to answer! I love every single one of my scarves. The only thing I could say is that I personally prefer cool tones over warm, so warm beige or taupe is not a tone I would personally wear and that's simply because my skin tone doesn’t work with it.
You just launched a One Piece Vancouver campaign in support of the Get Warm Project. Can you share a bit about the Get Warm Project, why it inspires you and this campaign?

The ‘Get Warm Project’ is a community blanket and goods drive running from Nov 01- Feb 01 annually. It strives to ensure that members of our city will be warm every winter. The project aims to establish leadership within our community and actively work towards positive social change. Shauna Beaudoin, Sara McKenna and I started it in 2011 and have been running it every year since. It holds a huge part of our hearts, and we work hard to make positive change for both our community members in need, and those who support us. 

You can join us at one of our Get Warm Project Outreach Days to create our GWP bundles together. Then hit the streets with us to hand them out directly to those in need in our city. Not only do you get to rally together as a team to collect the necessary items for the bundles, but you also get to join us in the humbling and heartwarming experience of literally giving that bundle to someone who needs it, face-to-face.

New Socks
New Mittens
Bag that the bundles can be carried in
Granola Bar
Toothbrush & Paste
Soap Bar
Bottle of Water

Each Outreach Day has a goal of 100 Get Warm Bundles – that’s giving 100 people the needed items to not only make them feel good, but protect them from the cold!

I had never considered how I could utilize OPV to support GWP. I had been donating my creations here and there for years but never considered making it a way for others to contribute as well. Giving back can be so easy, yet a lot of the struggle is not knowing how! By partnering and donating 15% of every OPV purchase to GWP, that helps everyone contribute in a simple way. 

How can someone get involved in the Get Warm Project?
People can become involved by rallying teams to ‘sponsor’ one of our outreach days, and/or simply show up to our GW HQ with some items to donate, time and kind intentions. We have blankets donated for every bundle through our amazing partner at Kendor Textiles, so we try to encourage volunteers to bring any of the other listed items to build our bundles with. We always give out at least 100 bundles each GWP day.

Links: for shop etc

Get Warm Project Partners:
Social City Networking INC
Kendor Textiles
One Piece Vancouver

Get Warm Project Founders:
Shauna Beaudoin @shauna.beaudoin
Krista McKenna @ThisIsKMcKenna
Sara McKenna