It started with hats.
BKco founder Stephanie Stumph was creating and selling slouchy beanies made from bamboo fabric. She offered two models — a lightweight one that was great for infants and one made from bamboo fleece that was more appropriate for adults.
But it wasn’t long before she discovered a new demographic was buying her lightweight beanies.
“I was just making hats and started accumulating a large number of chemo patient customers,” she said.
“They really loved the lighter weight. It’s breathable, it fits their head better and they wear it 24-7.”
But while it was great to have found a new market, Stumph eventually began to feel guilty that she was profiting from the suffering of others. It was from those feelings of guilt the Wrap Them in Bamboo campaign was born last July.
Here’s how it works: with every bamboo beanie sold at BKco (bkco.ca) another beanie will be donated to a child going through chemotherapy.
“Currently I’m donating to children fighting cancer across Canada,” Stumph said.
Though some donations currently go to breast cancer patients, she has plans to expand on them.
“Soon, every hat sold on the first of the month will be for breast cancer,” she said.
To date, BKco has sold and matched 1,300 hats, with donations to BC Children’s Hospital, the Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg, Sick Kids Toronto, Camp Ooch, Camp Goodtimes and the West Coast Kids Foundation.
But Stumph wants to do more. And that’s what brought her to audition for Dragon’s Den last week in Kelowna.
“I talked about the numbers, what I wanted to do if I were to get an investment,” she said.
“My goal is to have a hat on every single cancer patient. But I don’t want them to pay for it.
“And with a Dragon, I could get there.”
This actually wasn’t Stumph’s first time auditioning for the Dragon’s Den. She applied two years earlier, before her one-to-one donation campaign was established.
So when she returned to audition this year, she was better prepared to answer one of the pressing questions from her first try: “What makes you different from every hat company out there?”
Stumph doesn’t know yet whether she will be heading to Toronto to film a segment on the show, but she should be hearing within the next week-and-a-half.
If she and BKco get selected to present, that will happen in May. And while she’s trying not to get too excited about her chances, she admitted she feels “very, very hopeful.”