Interview and Giveaway with Jess from Headbands of Hope!

Hi everyone!  Today I have an interview with Jess Ekstrom, the founder and CEO of Headbands of Hope. Headbands of Hope is such a wonderful company and when they contacted me, I was so excited to work with them! So here are some questions I asked her about the business, and she will be giving away a glitter headband to 2 lucky winners, enter the Rafflecopter giveaway at the end of the post! 

1. When did you realize you wanted to start Headbands of Hope? And what is it about?

Right before my 20th birthday in the summer of 2011, I did an internship at the Make a Wish Foundation of Central and Western North Carolina.  
Everyday, I got to wake up and grant the wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses. I took day trips to visit the wish kids at their houses and bring them their favorite toys. We received hundreds of letters from wish children that said we changed their lives; little did they know, they were changing mine.
One day, I was pulling my hair back in a ponytail and thought about the hundreds of girls I encountered that lose their hair to cancer. I saw how much losing their hair had an impact on their self-esteem and confidence level.
I thought about the thousands of girls around the world losing their hair to chemotherapy. Being a young girl presents many struggles with self-esteem already and losing their hair as a result of a life-threatening illness is traumatic. Not only do they have to face the risk of losing their lives, they feel that they lose a part of their feminine identity. 
Therefore I started Headbands of Hope! For every headband purchased, one is given to a girl with cancer and $1 is donated to the St. Baldrick's Foundation to fund life-saving childhood cancer research.

2. What is it like running a business as a college student?

Starting any company is always a risk and you have to take a courageous leap. Especially being a college student, it can be easy to get distracted by other things. But when you have a cause you’re working towards, the long hours don’t really matter. All of the work you put in doesn’t even feel like work because you know everything you do turns full circle to help a girl with cancer. 

3. What are you studying in college? And do you plan to expand Headbands of Hope after you graduate?

I graduated NCSU in May 2013 and Headbands of Hope became my full-time job post-graduation. I also became a public speaker for CAMPUSPEAK. I love going to universities and motivating their students to take action. I'm living proof that you're never too young to start something you believe in. Going to different schools also sparked our campus rep program where students can start a Headbands of Hope chapter on their campus.

4. Do you have any special memories from delivering headbands to girls recovering from chemotherapy? 

Every time I walk into a hospital room, my whole life shifts around and nothing else matters except for that moment. One time, I gave a girl a headband and she said she wanted to give me a headband too but asked if it was okay that my headband was on a piece of paper.

On another hospital visit, I met a 15-year-old girl and spent the day with her. Her mom called me a week later saying that she had passed away. Her mom said she was calling me because she wanted headbands for all of the women to wear to her funeral the next day because she loved her headband so much during her last week of life.

It’s moments like these that define why I do what I do. If I can make a girl feel normal and comfortable in her own skin with just a headband, then I’m going to do everything I can to make give a headband to every girl battling cancer.

5. When did you start the boy's line Headwear of Hope?
I started Headwear of Hope in November. I wanted to give something to all the kids at the hospitals, not just the girls. Even though hair loss might be more traumatic for a girl, it's still something the boys are going through. 

6. How often do you do deliveries to hospitals?
Every week! Usually once or twice a week depending on how many orders we get.

Check out their website headbandsofhope.org to support the St. Baldrick's Foundation and kids suffering from cancer. The headbands are really pretty, and the cause they support is so great! They also have social media you can follow, they will be linked in the giveaway below, which is for one of their glitter headbands, 2 winners will be chosen!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thanks for reading!
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1 comment:

  1. These are really pretty, and it sounds like a great company! Thanks for sharing :)

    -- Alex at Brainy Girls Beauty