Nobody deserves to suffer from cancer, especially children. According to curesearch.com, nearly 43 children are diagnosed with cancer every day, the average being only 6 years old, and more than 40,000 children go through treatment every year. To help young girls going through this tragic ordeal, Jess Ekstrom founded Headbands of Hope, an organization that through its adorable line of headbands and more strives to reinforce positive self-images in those children who have lost their hair, due to chemotherapy. For every headband that Headbands of Hope sells, one is given to a child with cancer.
To learn more about this incredible cause, we talked with Ekstrom about her organization.
What was your inspiration for starting Headbands of Hope?
When I was in college at NC State University I interned at Make-A-Wish Foundation. I noticed that all of the girls who had lost their hair due to chemotherapy didn’t want to wear wigs, but wanted to wear headbands instead. I knew then that I needed to start a company that would give girls back their female empowerment and Headbands of Hope was born.
You started Headbands of Hope while still in college. How did you find the time?
I definitely had to learn time management. When you are super passionate about a cause, it’s easy to make time. I strongly believe you make time for the things you care about and excuses for the things you don’t.
Tell us about The Hope Market.
We introduced The Hope Market last October. Every month, we team up with a different childhood cancer organization to be our Monthly Mission. That charity receives a portion of The Hope Market sales at the end of the month.
Celebrities like Lauren Conrad are noticing you. What’s it like when you get a shout out from someone famous?
It is so amazing to have such influential people support our cause. There are no words for the excitement I feel every time it happens.
You do a lot of public speaking, including a commencement speech in front of 20,000 people, and you are great at it! Do you ever get nervous? What are your tips for killing it?
It is natural to get nervous when doing any kind of public speaking. When I think about the mission of Headbands of Hope, it’s hard not to get excited and want to tell everyone about it. It’s important to always stay a little nervous because that means you care!
Do you ever find that you aren’t taken seriously because of your young age? What do you do when that happens?
At the beginning, I thought I was being stereotyped because of my age; however I found that people who were treating me differently weren’t worth pursuing. And now, I feel a lot of young entrepreneurs are embraced, and the younger generation is encouraged to be entrepreneurs and find solutions for the world’s greatest problems.
You’ve said, “It’s not about what we do when we dream. It’s about what we do when we wake up.” What do you do to make your waking life meaningful?
It’s the choices that we make that make our lives meaningful. I chose to create Headbands of Hope, and that brings meaning to my life every day.
What makes you feel confident? How do you help others feel confident?
Helping others feel confident is what makes me confident. Knowing that I help restore positive self-identity to kids with cancer is amazing to me. That gives me the passion to keep doing what I am doing.
What does She’s Fit to Lead mean to you? How does someone become fit to lead?
She’s Fit to Lead means that the choices you’re making are inspiring a following. I think you become fit to lead by constantly thinking of how you can leave the world better than you found it.
You can learn more about Headbands of Hope, shop their awesome accessories and help kids with cancer [here].