She's the Sh*t: Paige Malinowski

Paige Malinowski is the kind and loving program manager in the Young Adult Program at Dana Farber Cancer Institute. She has been the liaison between Shit that I Knit and Dana Farber and has played a huge role in facilitating such a successful partnership for our Give-A-Shit Knit Kits. We are so grateful for her positivity and couldn’t help but feature her in our She’s the Shit series!

Hometown: Acton, MA (but currently live in Cambridge, MA)

Favorite part of your day: Meeting with and working with young adult patients (ages 18-39), connecting them to the unique resources, services, and support programs offered by the Young Adult Program (YAP)

You have been integral to the success of the Give-A-Sh*t program at Dana Farber and we are so grateful for your help in facilitating it. Why do you think the Give-A-Sh*t program is a good fit for the Dana Farber Young Adult Program?

Give-A-Sh*t’s goal is to enhance the quality of life of young adults undergoing cancer treatment by providing the tools to complete a basic knitting project, simultaneously promoting confidence, control, patience, and distraction from a difficult and often overwhelming time. It really jives with YAP’s goal of supporting and empowering YA patients to build resilience and realize their own strengths to help them cope.

What kind of positive effects of knitting have you witnessed when patients use our knit kits? Have you tried knitting yourself?

Knitting is a great source of relaxation and has many meditative qualities. Several of our patients have mentioned that knitting provides distraction from what is going on in their lives (whether cancer or otherwise) and is sometimes the first moment when they’ve been able to take their minds off cancer. Knitting also promotes confidence by way of overcoming challenges and achieving a goal. My cousin taught me how to knit a few years ago, which I really enjoyed, but I was thankful to be re-introduced to it after Christina connected with YAP. I’ve been watching STIK’s tutorial videos and am excited to get back into it!

What did your journey look like before you started at Dana Farber Cancer Institute? Did you always want to work with cancer patients?

I was drawn to oncology, and particularly psychosocial oncology, after spending time with close family members hospitalized for cancer treatment, surgery, and recovery. I witnessed the impact psychosocial services had on my family and how much we benefited from the support we received during these difficult times. In college, this led me to become involved with various cancer support organizations and internships, further confirming my passion for this field.  

How did you get involved with Dana Farber Cancer Institute and what drew you to the Young Adult Program in particular?

Having grown up in a Boston suburb and knowing DFCI’s reputation for excellence and compassion, I knew it would be a special place to work. Prior to graduating from college, I actually began my time at Dana-Farber as a volunteer, then worked as a Clinical Research Coordinator, a Resource Specialist, and my current role as Program Manager for YAP. I was drawn to YAP’s unique mission of focusing on the emotional needs of young adult patients, who are often caught between the pediatric and adult worlds physically, emotionally, and socially. They face challenges different from those of children or older adults; having the opportunity to support them during an often vulnerable time is really meaningful.  

I can imagine working with young adult cancer patients can be incredibly difficult and often heartbreaking. How do you find ways to cope with difficult experiences at work?

There are certainly good days and not-so-good days, but over time, I’ve learned to manage and balance various emotions in recognizing that the work we do to support patients and families is extremely important, meaningful, and makes a difference. I am very fortunate to work on a supportive team with my wonderful YAP colleagues – Karen Fasciano, PsyD (Program Director), Katelyn MacDougall, LICSW (Clinical Social Worker), and Shannon Watterson (Senior Communications Specialist).

What do you do outside of work to decompress and unwind? What would an ideal day off look like for you?

I love spending time with my family and friends, and especially my two adorable nephews! In addition to being a huge Boston sports fan (Go Sox!), I enjoy exercising, beach time, and exploring all of the incredible things that Boston has to offer. Nantucket Island is my all-time favorite escape. I also spend time volunteering for Comfort Zone Camp, a bereavement camp for children who have lost a parent or sibling. An ideal day off would include any of the above, good food, and good company.

Merino Wool Series: Merino Wool Lovers Unite!

  Merino Wool material for shit that i knit hats

  When we started Shit That I Knit, we made a conscious decision to use only the best of wools for our products, Merino wool. Merino wool comes from Merino sheep, which are known for having the softest and finest wool of any sheep. While it may not be the cheapest option, it provides our customers with the most comfortable and long-lasting product, which is what is most important to us. Lots of other companies love Merino wool as much as we do and use it for their products. This series will feature various Merino Wool loving companies-from outerwear giants to brands just getting started like us.

 Here's why WE love merino wool: 
Soft and fluffy
Not itchy
Who likes an itchy hat?
STIK hats are meant to be worn often and forever
Crazy warm
 Stay warm while still looking trendy af!
It makes sense
We get our merino wool from Peru so why not have the hats made by women in Lima who are experts at their ancestral skill of knitting? 
merino wool in a row, material for shit that i knit hats

She's the Sh*t: Kylie Watts

Kylie Watts is the sh*t because she juggles a full-time job and her own business, Watts in Maine, a jewelry company featuring beautiful, classic pieces that capture the essence of Maine and also tell a story (Check that sh*t out!). Her first piece, The Perfect Catch Cuff, completely represents her brand and is formed from an essential lobsterman's tool which determines if a lobster is of legal size to keep. She is a resilient example of a rockin’ Girl Boss who has built her own, incredibly successful business all while maintaining a full-time job.

Kylie Watts, Watts in Maine, wearing a Shit That I Knit hat

Portland, ME

Favorite part of your day: 
I love preparing orders from our online store. I get so excited to see what city and state our pieces are being delivered to.

Who was your first customer (not including family members)? How did you go about getting them to buy your cuff?
Gosh, besides family/friends my first customer was k. Colette. A beautiful store in the Old Port of Portland, Maine.( I did wholesale for almost two years before opening up  my online store.) I sent them an email after noticing a write up in a local Maine Magazine. I knew the Perfect Catch Cuff was perfect for this upscale establishment. The next thing I knew I was in the store showing them the cuff and getting my first wholesale order! They have been a dream to work with since day one.

Imagine meeting the version of Kylie Watts before starting Watts In Maine. What was she like then and what advice would you give to her?
I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started my own business.
I asked a few local small business owners in the area some questions to clarify if what I was doing was correct or not.
I was too concerned with pleasing everyone else and I didn't know the ropes.
My advice would have been don't compromise too much. You don't have to please everyone, because this is your business. If you feel a certain way about something, it's ok to say so.  If you can, try and find a mentor that can show you the way. To be honest, I'm a bit stubborn and prefer to do things myself, regardless of the consequences. :)

In the past month or two, what has been a challenge you’ve overcome? What has been a pat-yourself-on-the-back-moment?
I have a manufacturer for some of my jewelry pieces and I designed a piece from start to finish. The product didn't turn out the way I had hoped so we decided to pull the plug after a few months of frustration and disappointment, even though we had put a good amount of money into it. I've learned that nothing ever goes the way you planned in business.
Pat myself on the back moment:
I had a business meeting recently where they seemed surprised I was still working a full time job and doing Watts In Maine on the side. I spend more time being stressed out about how much time I don't have and never realized that I am doing pretty darn good with what I accomplish daily.

Girl Crush:
Priyanka Chopra. She is stunning and can do it all. Have you seen Quantico?!

What STIK hat style do you have and why do you love it (if you love it!):
We should do a list of which hats I don't have! I love my heather colored one the best. I think it's the Motley Beanie-goes with everything. The Ladd in cardinal is such a beautiful color though, so hard to resist!