It is easy to sometimes feel helpless in the face of something out of our control - but we should never underestimate the impact that can be made even in a small action. Jess Ekstrom, founder of Headbands of Hope, shared her story with us of this reality. For every headband they sell, one is given to a girl with cancer. In honor of childhood cancer awareness month, we have also partnered with them on a GIVEAWAY! See how to enter here for a Headbands of Hope subscription box and 1 month free of a Yellow Collective membership!
I never thought of myself as an entrepreneur. Growing up, I always wanted to be a journalist or work for a magazine. But then one summer in college, I interned at a wish-granting organization for kids with life-threatening illnesses. A lot of them would lose their hair during chemotherapy and they’d be offered a wig or a hat. However, a lot of the kids I saw loved to wear headbands instead of covering up their heads. I started to research organizations that give headbands to kids with cancer and couldn’t find any.
At that moment (unknowingly) I became an entrepreneur because I wanted to solve this problem. I didn’t really think about all of the hardships that come with starting a business and everything that could go wrong. I just knew that a lot of these kids wanted to wear headbands and no one was recognizing that, or even if they were, no one was doing anything about it.
At the end of my junior year in April 2012, I launched Headbands of Hope. For every headband sold, one is given to a child with cancer. Today, we’re carried in over 2,000 stores (including ULTA locations!) and we’ve been on the TODAY Show, Good Morning America, The View, Vanity Fair, Women’s Health, People Magazine, and I get to travel to speak all around the world.
But my biggest accomplishment is donating headbands to every children’s hospital in the United States.
Some moments, I’m euphoric with this movement I’ve created and the impact that it’s had on so many kids. But other moments (too many that I’d like to admit) I feel an anxiousness that I’m not doing enough, or that I could be doing more .
I think when you’re trying to make a change and do something big, it’s hard to ever be truly satisfied with where you’re at because there’s always more that could be done.
Last year, I met an astronaut (pretty cool!) and he said no matter how great of a career he’ll have as an astronaut, he’ll never truly make a dent on the galaxy. On the outside, I thought just being an astronaut is a huge accomplishment in and of itself. But to him, he sees not what he’s done , but what’s left to be done . I realized, even though him and I live in totally different worlds (pun intended), we’re both struggling with the same tension of never being satisfied.
On one hand, I credit a lot of the success of my career to the mentality that I can always be doing more, because it’s fueled a lot of my hustle. On the other hand, it’s robbed me of a lot of the enjoyment and satisfaction of the process. And if I can’t enjoy the life I’ve created, that’s a big problem to me.
I found a lot of this anxiety stemmed from comparison. When you’re trying to do something big, you meet a lot of other people trying to create something cool too. I’ve loved being a part of a growing community of entrepreneurs, activists, and people who are going for it; but it’s so easy to hold a ruler between yourself and someone else.
I’ll start to compare what I’m doing with what they’re doing and start to doubt myself. It’s embarrassing to admit that, because on the inside, I truly want more people to take action, start businesses, and hold a level of responsibility for the world’s issues and inspire solutions. But then there’s this insecurity that creeps in and makes you think you’re not measuring up to everyone else trying to make an impact.
Those moments when I’m comparing myself give me no room for creativity or innovation.
My mind is too cluttered with doubt that I have nothing else to give to my business or even my relationships. I learned a lot from a story Chelsea Handler told about a friend she invited to her comedy group. Her friend got picked up by a talent scout before Chelsea did. At first, she was jealous and angry. But then she learned from her sister that someone else’s success is not robbing you of your own.
Sometimes it may seem that success is just a small platform that only a few people can fit on, but there’s room for everyone at the top.
And if that’s the case, we might as well cheer each other on as we all try to make it.
On the outside, it seems the bigger Headbands of Hope gets, the more successful I should feel. But really the more it develops, it presents more opportunity for me to develop with it. Each day I get closer to finding a balance of hustle for where I want to be, and happiness for where I’m at now.
GIVEAWAY: ENTER FOR 1 MONTH FREE OF A YELLOW COLLECTIVE MEMBERSHIP + A HEADBANDS OF HOPE SUBSCRIPTION BOX!
Photos provided by Headbands of Hope