Headbands of Hope Gives Girls with Cancer the Much-Needed Self-Confidence: Q&A with Jessica Ekstrom, Founder and CEO

Women make great impacts in business. This holds true in social entrepreneurship sector. One of the change makers is Headbands of Hope, and I am delighted to have the opportunity to have a Q&A session with the Founder and CEO, Jessica Ekstrom.

Here’s what the unique business venture proposes: Headbands of Hope sells stylish headbands to help boosting the confidence of young girls who suffer from cancer. If you buy one headband, one is given to a young girl with cancer, and $1 is donated to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to fund much needed childhood cancer research.

Jessica Ekstrom of Headbands of Hope

Launched in April 2012, Headbands of Hope has donated more than 20,000 headbands to girls with cancer, and have captured the attention of thousands of people including celebrities such as Beyonce, Lauren Conrad, Zooey Deschanel, Amy Poehler, and Christina Aguilera.

Here’s the inspiring Q&A with Ms. Ekstrom.

Ivan Widjaya (Q): I’m fascinated with your story and I’m sure that our readers want to learn more about you and your inspiring business, Headbands of Hope. So, can you tell us a bit about your business and what drives you to start it?

Jessica Ekstrom (A): Right before my 20th birthday in the summer of 2011, I did an internship at a wish-granting organization.

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 fund childhood cancer research.

Q: Combining commerce with a cause is a brilliant idea. Can you tell me how things work?

A: For every headband purchased, one is given to a girl with cancer and $1 is donated to fund childhood cancer research. Headbands can be purchased online at HeadbandsOfHope.org and in independent retail locations around the country.

There’s never buyer’s remorse when you’re shopping for a cause!

Q: Your startup inspires celebrities. What’s the biggest impact your business is receiving by having public figures on board with your cause?

A: Having supporters like Lauren Conrad and other celebrities has been amazing. Celebrities have the gift of having a microphone to millions of people. When they use that microphone for good, it can do incredible things.

Q: What’s your plan for the future?

A: We always want to keep our styles fresh. For winter, we’re coming out with new headwraps as well as long-sleeved shirts. We love teaming up with other designers and keep our audience happy with styles for all ages.

We’ve also starting hosting, “Make-Your-Own Headband Day” at hospitals where the kids can actually design and put together their own headband. It’s been such a hit so we plan on expanding that to other hospitals around the country.

Q: Any message to share for our readers whose kids or relatives are battling cancer?

A: We believe that our headbands are more than just a cute accessory. They’re a symbol of hope for girls and women everywhere that they’re not alone. When girls receive a headband in the hospital, they love the idea that another girl out there is also receiving a headband who’s going through the same thing she is.

No matter what, you’re beautiful!

Many thanks, Jessica, for your time! Good luck and more power to your entrepreneurial endeavor!