Interview with Hat Not Hate Founder Shira Blumenthal
One spark can start a fire, or in Shira Blumenthal’s case, one stitch of yarn can start a movement.
We at Faber-Castell Creativity for Kids have the honor of partnering with Shira's anti-bullying movement Hat Not Hate® with Lion Brand Yarn. When asking Shira what she attributes Hat Not Hate’s rapid two-year success to, she goes back to her upbringing.
“I was always taught as a child to dream big. Hat Not Hate is the perfect example of dreaming big," stated Shira.
Hat Not Hate is an anti-bullying campaign founded by a passion knitting and crocheting. The campaign encourages individuals to knit and crochet blue hats and donate them to the cause. These blue hats are then gifted to schools all over the United States to promote National Bullying Prevention Month in October. The Hat Not Hate Quick Knit Loom kit was created to help spread anti-bullying awareness while allowing children of all skill levels to create blue hats to wear and share without prior crocheting and knitting experience.
Inspired to learn more from the woman who started the movement, we interviewed Shira about the past, present, and future of Hat Not Hate and the passion behind its success.
The inspiration behind Hat Not Hate
All too familiar with the issues of being bullied as a child, Shira found inspiration in the bravery of a young girl in the news who rose above her bullies. Teaching children to knit and crochet at the time, she turned her passion into a charitable purpose and reached out to the crafting community.
“Crafters are very giving people; they want to share their creativity. Some crafters do not even keep the things they create, they give them away for others to enjoy,” stated Shira. “Not only is the community willing to help, but bullying sits with people. No matter what your age is, everyone has had some experience with bullying.”
Read Shira’s entire story here.
How Lion Brand Yarn & Hat Not Hate was founded
Shira had already been working with Lion Brand Yarn as an ambassador when her inspiration for Hat Not Hate came about. Hats became a symbol for the cause due to them being a simple start to crocheting and knitting.
“Hats are the second thing I teach children in my crocheting and knitting classes, so I knew the hat was the right way to go,” stated Shira. “Hats are so simple to create but can be so complex at the same time if you want them to be.”
Shira approached the Chief Marketing Officer and President of Lion Brand Yarn with her idea and the rest is history. Shira has been happily creating at Lion Brand Yarn for seven years.
“Hat Not Hate is a two-person team but we could not do it without the support and help from everyone at Lion Brand," stated Shira. “ I am so lucky to have my producer and project manager Meghan Nelson. She is irreplaceable because she is so passionate.”
Where hats are distributed & how to get involved
Since its start in 2018, 58,248 hats have been collected for Hat Not Hate and distributed to over 60 schools in 30 states. This collection year, the goal is to find homes for the 100,000 blue hats that will hopefully be collected in August 2021 to distribute.
Schools interested in bringing Hat Not Hate to their students can contact the team here.
“There isn’t any specific qualification for a school to get involved, just the desire and dedication to upholding Hat Not Hate beliefs,” stated Shira.
Tune into the Shi Show
Along with raising awareness, you can now find talk show host on Shira’s resume. Watch as she covers topics of all kinds with guest co-hosts of all passions and occupations. Shi Show viewers call themselves “shi-sisters” or “shi-friends” and have connected with each other through the show.
“The Shi Show is a reflection of who I am,” stated Shira. “Here I was a girl just trying to support people and so much more has come out of it.”
The Shi Show goes live on Facebook every Monday through Friday.
Future goals for Hat Not Hate
Shira’s aspirations for Hat Not Hate are growth with the help of virtual assemblies and the legal classification of Hat Not Hate being a charitable organization.
“Making Hat Not Hate a 501c3 is a top goal of mine. It adds a whole other element and is very important to our growth,” stated Shira.
The year 2020 brings the first virtual assembly for the organization with hopes of continuing this initiative alongside hat distribution available to all schools in the United States. Above all, Shira’s goal is for Hat Not Hate to be a household name.
“I want Hat Not Hate to create enough blue that it makes a statement. I want to erase the notion that bullying is a ‘rite of passage’ for children,” expressed Shira. “Bullying happens at every age and should never be treated as a ‘rite of passage.’
You can join in the anti-bullying campaign by knitting your own hat, or checking out our Hat Not Hate Quick Knit Loom. Find all you need to know about Hat Not Hate at their official website and learn more about the Faber-Castell Creativity for Kids Hat Not Hate partnership here.