Headbands of Hope
|Founder||Jessica Ekstrom, CEO|
|Area served||United States|
Headbands of Hope LLC is an organization founded by Jessica Ekstrom that sells headbands in effort to raise money to support cancer research for children. For every headband sold, Headbands of Hope donates $1 to the St. Baldrick's Foundation and one headband to the Four Diamonds Fund, but Headbands of Hope is a for-profit organization. The headbands are delivered systematically through St. Baldrick's, who send the headbands to hospitals for distribution to child patients battling cancer. Due to the philanthropic nature of its initial mission and continued efforts, Headbands of Hope has been cited as a socially responsible business with more than 10,000 headbands delivered to girls battling cancer.
Headbands of Hope fights cancer through the donation of headbands. Jessica Ekstrom chose to donate headbands because girls who lose their hair due to chemotherapy often have less confidence in their image. More specifically, this organization seeks to raise awareness about common misconceptions of childhood cancer, such as the inaccurate claim that children need less medicine than adults because of their size. Ekstrom believes that “They just wanted to keep their feminine identity, and sometimes wigs can be uncomfortable and embarrassing for younger girls and they also hide what they are going through."
Headbands of Hope was envisioned by Ekstrom after an internship at the Make-A-Wish Foundation in 2011. One of the girls at her internship, four-year-old Renee, had cancer and wanted to go to Disney World so she could see the fairy tale princess Sleeping Beauty. Her condition deteriorated before she was able to go to Disney World, so Ekstrom came to her home dressed up as Sleeping Beauty in order to fulfill the girl's wish. Renee died wearing a Sleeping Beauty costume given to her by Ekstrom.
Noticing that many girls who received treatment preferred wearing headbands instead of wigs, Ekstrom began to work toward distributing headbands to young girls fighting cancer. The planning period lasted between Fall 2011 and Spring 2012 until the organization finally launched in April 2012. By January 31, 2013, Headbands of Hope had donated more than 3,000 headbands.
Future projects include expanding the headband line by incorporating printed phrases on the headbands, increasing their thickness, as well as continuing further development on their brother company, Headwear of Hope.
The headbands, which come in a variety of shapes and sizes, are made by a company in Bismarck, North Dakota. Ekstrom chose the company with help from the College of Design and the College of Textiles at North Carolina State University, where she graduated. Styles are determined by Ekstrom and her team of designers, who look at popular trends and what styles of headbands women, especially female athletes, purchase. Types of headbands available for purchase include "Go Glitter" headbands, "Classic Shabby," "Skinny Shabby," "Beaded Beauties," and "Couture" headbands.
Outside of the United States, production has extended to Canada and will continue to expand with plans for distribution in Peru during the summer of 2014. The systematic style of delivery, which involves sending the headbands to hospitals rather than individual patients, was taken from TOMS Shoes, which is also a supporter of the organization. Other products include shirts and bumper stickers.
Ekstrom is an outspoken advocate of social media as a means of advertising, stating that "we can show through pictures how purchasing headbands makes a difference."  The organization uses college campuses to market Headbands of Hope. The headbands are marketed by representatives that hand out headbands to schools across the United States. By January 2013, there were over 20 representatives promoting Headbands of Hope nationwide, and talks are also given by Ekstrom. In addition, the "Hope Club," a club created by Ekstrom, allows cancer patients who have received headbands to post photos of themselves along with their biographies. The organization believes sharing personal stories about cancer survivors is what most effectively helps sell their headbands, for "almost everyone has some connection to cancer."  In addition, the organization asks people to find more local hospitals where donations can be made, sign up to be representatives of the organization at their universities, or buy a headband.
The headbands are marketed as being made in America. Esktrom emphasizes that none of the headbands are imported, stating that "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." Headbands of Hope has received recognition from both NBC's Today Show and Fitness Magazine.
Recently, Headbands of Hope has started marketing more general headwear through Headwear of Hope, a branch of Headbands of Hope that donates headwear to young boys undergoing cancer treatment. Much like Headbands of Hope, Headwear of Hope donates one headband to a boy diagnosed with cancer and $1 to the St. Baldrick's Foundation for each headband purchased.
- Phil Hall (27 January 2014). "Jessica Ekstrom, founder and CEO, Headbands of Hope, Raleigh, N.C.". Business Superstar.
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- Hatcher, Jessica (1 January 2013). "The Technician: Headbands for Hope Turns Heads at a National Level". Headbands for Hope Turns Heads at a National Level. The Technician. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
- Maguire, Marti (15 February 2014). "Entrepreneur soothes cancer in the young, one headband at a time". Retrieved 5 March 2014.
- "Chic Vendor Spotlight". Chic Vendor Spotlight: "Headbands of Hope" Offers More Than Just Adorable Flower Girl Accessories. Merci New York. 26 July 2012. Retrieved 6 March 2014.