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Jessica Ekstrom, founder and CEO, Headbands of Hope, Raleigh, N.C.

| 01.27.2014 |

According to data released by the American Childhood Cancer Foundation, approximately 13,400 children are diagnosed with cancer every year; approximately one in 300 boys and one in 333 girls will develop cancer before they turn 20.


Jessica Ekstrom is doing her part to fight against childhood cancer. Her company Headbands of Hope sells a line of American-made headbands that raises money for childhood cancer research. For every headband purchased, one is donated to a little girl battling cancer, and $1 is donated to the St. Baldrick's Foundation to fund childhood cancer research. Needless to say, Ekstrom is a superstar that deserves our attention!


Q: What was the genesis of your company, and is this the first company you've created?


Jessica Ekstrom: During the summer of 2011, I did an internship with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. I found that girls loved to wear headbands instead of wigs after losing their hair to treatment. The girls at Make-A-Wish touched my heart so much and I wanted to develop a way where every girl battling cancer could have a headband. Therefore, 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.


Q: How long did it take to create Headbands of Hope, and when did it officially launch?


Jessica Ekstrom: I started working on the company at the beginning of my junior year (August 2011) and launched it in April 2012.


Q: You stress that your products are American made. Why did you feel it was important to have the products made in the U.S. and not in another country?


Jessica Ekstrom: The growing rate of outsourcing products is making our country more dependent on others when we could be providing jobs for people in the U.S.


Q: How are you promoting and marketing your products, and what feedback have you received to date?


Jessica Ekstrom: Our story is what sells our products. Social media like Facebook and Instagram have been huge for us because we can show through pictures how purchasing headbands makes a difference. I also started a campus rep program where representatives on different college campuses work to spread our mission and donate to local hospitals.


Almost everyone has some connection to cancer. Therefore, the response to Headbands of Hope has been tremendous and we're so happy to have such an amazing following.


Q: What do you see as your company's future goals?


Jessica Ekstrom: Ideally, in 10 years, Headbands of Hope won’t be around. I think I’m one of the few people that can say I hope I’m out of a job because I hope there’s a cure for cancer. But in the meantime, we just expanded into a boys’ line called Headwear of Hope. When I go to the hospitals, it’s amazing to give the headbands to girls but I see the boys there and I realized they deserve something as well. So our brother company was born.


For Headbands of Hope, I’d like to get new collections with thicker bands and possibly printed ones with sayings on them.


Jessica Ekstrom's Headbands of Hope is online at www.headbandsofhope.org/.