I've always believed that when passion and purpose collide magical things will happen.
I am excited to be at that magical point in my life. After journeying through my own personal trials and alternate career paths, I decided to create and dedicate a website business and its related non-profit group--Designhergals.com and the Gal to Gal Foundation--to raising funds and awareness for Stage IV breast cancer patients.
Stage IV, or metastatic, breast cancer is the most advanced type. A Stage IV diagnosis means that the cancer has spread outside of the original tumor site. Many notable and duly credited organizations support breast cancer research, prevention and early-stage treatment. But, as I learned, the level of resources dedicated to people living with Stage IV cancer is much lower, in comparison.
It was several years ago that my cousin, Robin, died from breast cancer. Since then another dear friend of the Board of the Gal to Gal Foundation, Janis, also died from Stage IV breast cancer. Through their courageous battles and openness about living with and dying from cancer--I came closer to understanding the needs and desires of women with the Stage IV diagnosis. They allowed me to witness firsthand the challenges and even opportunities created by this life-altering disease.
My business philosophy today can be summed up by the phrase "purpose before personal profitability." In 2005, I launched designhergals.com, a website focused on the celebration of women. My goal was to make the website a tool that would allow women to express their individuality and build a community of support, in addition to raising money and awareness for late-stage breast cancer.
The website was designed to be fun, interactive and some would even say addictive. Women (and girls) can create their own virtual likeness (by selecting skin tone, eye shape, body type, hairstyle and color) and "style" (by choosing from 100's of outfits and accessories) and have that "Gal" produced on an assortment of personalized stationery and gift items. Design-her Gals presents a world of fashion and fun, where everything in your closet always fits, and everyday is a good hair day . . . even if you may have lost it all in chemotherapy. Not to worry, the site also lets you choose a scarf in lieu of a hairstyle.
Design-her Gals donates 5 percent of its gross sales to the Gal to Gal Foundation, a non-profit foundation dedicating 100% of its resources to Stage IV causes. The Foundation identifies and supports organizations that are making meaningful contributions to the lives of people with Stage IV breast cancer.
I've set a goal of donating $1 million over the next three-years. We hope that money will in part be used to sponsor a nationwide online resource for people with advanced-stage breast cancer. In addition, these funds will also be used to help Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation grant the wishes of Stage IV breast cancer patients and their families.
By many measures, it would seem that we've been successful in growing our business. But the most rewarding has been the comments I've received from Stage IV breast cancer patients. When a woman with advanced-stage breast cancer tells me that we're making a difference in her life, that we've brightened her day by making her feel that she's part of a community of women who care about her--that is when I know that I'm on the right path.