Inspiration on a Headband

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Get your Kleenex ready… I recently learned about a non-profit organization called Headbands of Hope, which was started by a 21 year old college student named Jessica.  For every headband purchased from the organization, Headbands of Hope donates a headband to a girl who has lost her hair after cancer treatment.  I was so impressed by Jessica – the organization has given away more than 500 headbands since April – that I asked her to do a guest post on why and how she started such a successful non-profit.

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Jessica said… “I did a summer internship with the Make a Wish foundation; every day that summer, I got to wake up and grant wishes to children who deserved them.  One story in particular really propelled me to start Headbands of Hope. 


Once upon a time, we had a wish girl who was a beautiful 4-year-old named Renee. Her wish was to go to Disney World to meet her favorite princess, Sleeping Beauty.  Unfortunately, Renee’s cancer took a turn for the worst during Christmas time last year, a couple weeks before her wish. The doctors sent her home from the hospital to be with her family because her time left was short. Since she couldn’t go to Sleeping Beauty, we decided to bring Sleeping Beauty to her. We rented a Sleeping Beauty dress that I wore and I brought her a matching dress, a wand, and a crown with "Princess Renee" written on it. I also brought the Sleeping Beauty story to read to her. Before we came, her mother called and said she hasn’t opened her eyes in 3 days, but she could hear everything we’d say. 


I arrived in my royal limo to Renee’s house where her mom, dad, and two sisters awaited me. I gave them a princess greeting and then went to Renee’s bed in their living room where she was wearing a beautiful pink headband. I sat down on her bed beside her and put my hand on her shoulder, so she could feel that Sleeping Beauty was there. I started to read her the story of her favorite princess (my biography, I called it) and she opened her eyes!  She saw Sleeping Beauty sitting with her on her bed. The family cried as I said, "I remember when I woke up after a hundred years!" trying to stay in character. 


That time with Renee is a moment I will never forget. The doctor said she wasn’t going to last to Christmas, but she lived a week after that.   Her mother said Renee was buried in the dress, crown, and wand that Sleeping Beauty gave her. Her mother said she was more at peace with Renee passing because she knew she got what she always wanted, which was to meet Sleeping Beauty. 


At this moment, I knew I had to start something new and fresh to help children with cancer. I thought of Renee and the headband she wore, and all of the other girls I met who wore headbands when they were battling cancer. After a couple thinking sessions with a pad and pencil in Starbucks… Headbands of Hope was born.


Being a communications major, I had no idea the first thing about starting my own business. But as a college student, I had so much support from my professors and other departments of the university. I worked with the business school on a startup plan and the textile school for headband designs. Our headbands come from our lovely supplier at Sunshine Shoppe in Bismarck, ND. It was very important to me that they were manufactured in the USA.


Although being a college student has brought me a lot of support and resources, it’s also challenging to balance running Headbands of Hope and trying to be a regular college girl! But in the end, I know every minute I put into building Headbands of Hope is making a difference for a special girl out there, so it makes it all worth while. I definitely would like this organization to be my full time job when I graduate. The beauty of it is that there are always new headbands and styles on the way to keep the company fresh.

girls in grass

If you want to support Headbands of Hope, head over to Headbands of Hope and buy yourself – or a friend – a headband.  Your purchase means a headband will be donated to a girl or woman going through cancer; additionally, $1 will be donated to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation to fund life-saving childhood cancer research.  You can also helping by spreading the word about Headbands of Hope through social media (we’re on Twitter), making an announcement at work, your church, or your gym, posting flyers in coffee shops, or talking to your favorite local stores about selling the headbands.”



  • Janae @ Bring-Joy July 19, 2012, 6:40 am

    Jessica: How inspiring. I’m impressed that you saw a need, & despite being young & not knowing everything, you went forward anyway because you wanted to help. Way to go.

    Thank you Caitlin for letting us learn more about this awesome woman & organization!

  • Sarah July 19, 2012, 7:12 am

    Way to go Jessica
    Very touching and inspiring!

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat July 19, 2012, 7:46 am

    Oh wow, what an amazing cause! As someone who has had cancer touch several members of my family, thank you Jessica, for all of the inspiring work that you do. 🙂

  • Reenie July 19, 2012, 7:50 am

    Very inspiring Jessica <3

  • Shari July 19, 2012, 7:56 am

    What an amazing, poignant thing to do … so beautiful and heartwarming, truly.

  • Kyla July 19, 2012, 8:28 am

    What an amazing organization started by an amazing woman. Keep up the great work! I’ll buy a headband ASAP.

  • meagan July 19, 2012, 8:33 am

    Talk about your morning cry! This was great, Caitlin. Thanks for featuring Jessica’s company. And Jessica, thank you for bringing joy to these girls and women.

  • Kaitlin @4loveofcarrots July 19, 2012, 9:05 am

    aw this is such a great organization! thank you for sharing the story!

  • Melissa July 19, 2012, 9:07 am

    Love these! They will be adorable with school uniforms for back to school. I ordered one for myself as well as a tshirt and I’ll get my daughter some for back to school later.
    Thanks for sharing!

  • Beks July 19, 2012, 9:08 am

    This should be NSFW (Not safe for work). I’m about to become a blubbering mess! That is such a sweet and sad story! Thank you for sharing!

  • JenATX July 19, 2012, 9:44 am

    crying into my coffee right now :-/ thank you for sharing the story 🙂

  • colleen July 19, 2012, 10:11 am

    I am in tears. An amazing post. Jessica is an amazing inspiration to us all. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Courtney July 19, 2012, 10:12 am

    Such an inspiring, amazing post. Way to go, Jessica! 😀

  • Rachel O. July 19, 2012, 10:16 am

    what a touching story!i ordered a headband for – wish there was more i could do!

  • Jessica Ekstrom July 19, 2012, 10:27 am

    Wow- thank you all so much for your thoughtful comments! It’s people like you that make what I do possible. And people like Caitlin who help me do it better! Thank you all so much 🙂

  • Kim July 19, 2012, 10:28 am

    Just bought myself a green glitter headband! 🙂 SO glad you made us aware of this group.

  • Alex @ Raw Recovery July 19, 2012, 10:32 am

    Wow, this is beautiful and so inspiring. Way to go Jessica!

  • Katie July 19, 2012, 10:35 am

    WOW! So amazing! Thank you for sharing!

  • Elisabeth July 19, 2012, 10:38 am

    Yep…need the tissues!

  • Amy July 19, 2012, 10:39 am

    What an incredible story. Dried my eyes and bought two headbands. Thanks for sharing!

  • Erica July 19, 2012, 10:42 am

    Wow…the tears! What a story. Amazing company

  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats July 19, 2012, 11:17 am

    This is crazy, I actually heard about this last week and bought 2, one for me and one for a friend! I got the sparkly ones, so adorable! and a great cause!

  • Soniathe Mexigarian July 19, 2012, 11:38 am

    Yep. Choked up and cried. :\ Buying one for myself and sisters and will be tweeting it to my fashion friends and followers.

  • Katie @ Talk Less, Say More July 19, 2012, 11:53 am

    I heard about these headbands the other day and I FREAKING LOVE THEM! I’m definitely going to have to get myself one and maybe get some for some friends too!

  • Jessica @ New Girl, New City July 19, 2012, 12:15 pm

    SUCH an amazing and inspiring story!

  • Chelsea July 19, 2012, 12:20 pm

    Oh my gosh. Her story brought me to tears. I can only imagine what “Sleeping beauty” was feeling during that moment when she opened her eyes.

  • Sam @ Better With Sprinkles July 19, 2012, 12:24 pm

    To be 21 and running such an amazing non-profit is so inspiring. Jessica, you’re doing a fantastic job1

  • Ashley July 19, 2012, 2:26 pm

    This is amazing! Made me tear up! Do you know of any similar organizations in Canada? Thanks! 🙂

  • Erin @ erinberries July 19, 2012, 6:29 pm

    That is such a sweet story! I think that this is a great cause. My older sister had cancer when we were teenagers, so this really touched me.

  • mari July 19, 2012, 7:25 pm

    yup cried! thanks for supporting women doing great things.

  • Kristin - My Life as a Teacup July 19, 2012, 8:45 pm

    This was such a sweet story and such an amazing cause. Thanks for sharing Caitlin!

  • Lexi @ You, Me, & A World to See July 20, 2012, 1:54 pm

    How adorable!!!

  • SpaceySteph July 28, 2012, 8:51 pm

    I know I’m late (way behind on blogs) but I am definitely crying over Renee’s story. Jessica, you are amazing!

  • Michelle July 30, 2012, 11:03 am

    That beautiful little girl at the top is my daughter, Tori. We are so honored to be a part of Jessica’s organization. Tori loves her headband and she looks so pretty in it. She just got back from her Make a Wish trip to Disney World and it forever changed my life. Thank you for spreading the word about Headbands of Hope and please stop by and see how much fun Tori had on her wish trip..another great organization!

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