During her internship with a wish-granting organization for children with life-threating illnesses, Jessica Ekstrom met 4-year-old Renee whose last wish was to go to Disney World to meet Sleeping Beauty. Due to her illness, Renee was given 2 weeks to live and was unable to travel. Ekstrom instead dressed as sleeping beauty and appeared on Renee’s doorstep to dress her up as a princess and read her stories.
At the time, Renee was wearing a headband, Ekstrom said because girls with hair loss still like to express their style and personality.
Ekstrom said this was the event that inspired her business Headbands of Hope. For every headband purchased, one is given to child with cancer.
Jess Ekstrom is talking about her experience as an entrepreneur at Arkansas Tech University on Tuesday April 12, “not to tell people to start their own business but to think like an entrepreneur.”
Headbands of Hope was created in 2012 during Jess’s junior year of college at North Carolina State University, and her headbands have since been highlighted on NBC’s The Today Show, Seventeen Magazine, Forbes and more.
Headbands of Hope have donated over 60,000 headbands to children with cancer and officially had donated to every children’s hospital in the United States.
Jess wanted to make a difference through charity, not to be an entrepreneur, and she goes around the country speaking at events at schools on how to achieve success like she has through becoming a business person.
“One of the main points I like to share with college students is making the decision to take risks. It can be really scary, but if we didn’t take risks, there would be no exploration, small businesses or other factors that drive innovation.” Jess said on her website, JessEkstrom.com.
Jess said her fulfillment of putting a smile on a child’s face is her reason and satisfaction, not necessarily the money.
“We need to stop seeing tangible achievements as our final destination. We can attain a new car and expensive vacations, but we can only feel success deep in our hearts, where it’s difficult to put those feelings into words.”
Jess Ekstrom will speak on Tuesday, April 12, 6-7 p.m. in Doc Bryan lecture hall.