Click For Hope

Inspiring Business

CanPlan is Changing the World

Inspiring Business, Cancer, Clickforhope, Inspiring FriendsJasmine Lopez3 Comments

Please share your story: : Aloha! My name is Sharon Kim and I’m just one 25 year old determined to change the way people fight cancer. Why am I spending all my days working to create awareness when the rest of society is pressuring me with bills and expectations? Because I know how much of a pain in the ass cancer can be. I know what it feels like to be lost and confused about all the medical jargons and regimes. And I don’t want anyone to have to go through what my family and I went through.

When my mom was first diagnosed with uterine sarcoma cancer back in 2014, I had no idea what the word cancer even really meant. I’ve heard it thrown around in conversations, but it’s just one of those things you don’t think you’ll ever have to come face to face with (millennial thinking I guess). I figured cancer was just a glitch in the road for my mom and she’d make it through to inspire others with her story, which is why I filmed the entire journey (You can watch the tear-jerking video at the end of this post). Well little did I know how naive my mentality was when I was thrown head first into the world of cancer, unarmed and unprepared. Right after her diagnosis, she went straight to surgery and then straight into an intensive round of chemotherapy. Everything was happening so fast that it felt like we had no other choice but to go with it. What made the whole experience even more nerve-wrecking was that we felt so distant from her oncologist. We were constantly waiting on him to give us answers or to tell us what direction we needed to go in, but it always felt like we’d walk out of her appointments empty-handed. Long story short, she successfully got through chemotherapy and we all thought this whole ordeal was over and done with... but boy were we wrong. The cancer came back three months later and it was so aggressive this time around, my mom was sent straight to hospice to pass peacefully. We got to spend another two blissful months with her, before she passed away a few days before my 23rd birthday.

Since then, I quit my full-time corporate job and decided that life is too short to work super hard for someone else's dream. I spent the next year of my life creating a revolutionary tool designed to guide patients and caregivers through the different stages of cancer. After I had my very first prototype of CanPlan, a planner made to help patients and caregivers fight cancer day by day, I set up a Kickstarter project to obtain enough funds to print the planners in bulk. Seven days before my campaign was set to end, I was 100% funded and ready to get CanPlan into the hands of those who need it the most. Since July 2016, I have been distributing CanPlan to families and hospitals all over the world. I've also overcome my fear of public speaking and have been actively sharing my story at various Relay for Life and Susan G Komen events across California. I also recently became a guest blogger for the Huffington Post.

If you'd like to watch my story in detail, here is the viral video I made that helped my Kickstarter campaign become a success: https://youtu.be/xezvOLcPe48

How has your story shaped who you are today?: As you can see, the loss of my mom took a huge toll on me. So much so that I wasn’t satisfied with just telling people I lost my mom to cancer. I wanted there to be meaning. I wanted justification for her passing. The only way this wouldn’t feel like a loss is if I turned tragedy into inspiration and used my experience to help others facing the same ordeal. I wanted to give other fighters a chance to have a different end to their story. While I was going through all of this, I felt so alone. I had no idea where to turn to for resources or inspiration and I felt like I had no one to talk to about it all. Caregiving also took up 99% of my time, so I really had no energy or time to go looking for these resources. I wish I had an all in one tool that’d provide me with a roadmap for this journey. I wish I had a planner that’d show me what types of things I should be taking notes on, what I should be keeping track of and how to best utilize all this information. CanPlan does not only that, but it also provides daily reminders for positive thinking. It tunes you into the power of the mind and helps you to take action in the here and now and not dwell on the past or worry about the future. It is everything that I could’ve ever asked for while starting my journey with cancer, and I’m so excited to see the potential impact it’s going to make on the cancer community.

A little bit more about me?

Well, let’s just say that I’m a millennial looking to actually take action in making a positive social impact. I was born and raised on the beautiful island of Oahu and graduated with a BA in Psychology, Business Management & Communications from Santa Clara University. I’m your typical Asian nerd who cares more about my GPA than my relationship status. And yes, I do take pictures of my food. I was class clown in high school so you know I’ll throw in some jokes here and there. I’m very accepting of pity laughs. I’ve worked for various start-up companies in the Silicon Valley and I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset, but I’ve always struggled to find passion in what I was doing. Getting up each morning felt like a chore and I found myself constantly waiting for the next Friday or for the next paycheck. Unfortunately, I had to come to the lowest point in my life in order to figure out what it is I truly longed to do in this world. My mom had to die, so that I could finally start living… and that is the painful truth I use as fuel to motivate me to do what I do today. I want my story to teach people that they don’t have to wait until tragedy hits to start living a life of meaning and purpose. Don’t live just to live. Find what you love and let it kill you. Stay hungry and stay curious for it. Even if you have to try and fail a million times before you finally get it right…keep going because that’s far better than living with the guilt of all the “should haves” and “could haves”. Live the best life you possibly can and take action when it comes to your passions. It’s something you will never regret, I promise you.

What compelled you to want to share your story?: I hope my story is a beacon of light to anyone going through a difficult time. After my mom passed away, my dad got remarried one month later, my sister had a mental breakdown where she had to be hospitalized, my boyfriend was abusive both physically and emotionally, I was working in a very toxic environment, and I can't even remember how many times I've contemplated suicide. I had to challenge myself every single day to focus on the smallest pockets of positivity and I had to fight to become to person I am today. Every rejection in my life was a form of redirection and I had to have faith that God's plan for my life was way bigger than the plans I had for myself. I hope to encourage and inspire people with my story and my message.

What encouraging words would you give to someone who shares a similar story?: I know, you’re scared. You’re probably absolutely terrified because you’re about to do something you never thought you’d do. You’re about to leave comfortability and embark on a journey to the unknown, relying on your own inner confidence and the support system around you to get you to finish line. You’re sacrificing not only your time and resources, but also your pride, which may be a big pill for you to swallow. All for what? The unnerving, unfulfilling answer of “maybe things will work out”. 

It’s this very idea of investing in the uncertain that stops you from chasing after your dreams. It’s the fear of judgement, the fear of leaving your safety net and the fear of the risks being greater than the rewards that makes you unpack your bags time and time again. Why are you holding on so tight to the things you’re comfortable with? Because you FEAR something so great won’t happen twice. You FEAR the disappointment that might result from the gamble. You FEAR the thought of failure.

I was right there at the starting line with you about a year ago, and let me tell you..the journey has been far from smooth. I’m averaging about 20 hours of sleep a week, I always need to make sacrifices when it comes to finances, my social life is pretty much nonexistent and the amount of times I’ve heard “no” is comparable to the amount of times Donald Trump has denied accusations against him. Every time I walk into a cafe, I’m overwhelmed with pity stares as if I’ve just survived a zombie apocalypse. It’s not flattering. It’s not pretty. And there have been so many times I’ve wanted to give up and race back to comfortability.

So what is it that gives fuel to a dream chaser? What is it that allows them to sustain the early stages of deprivation? Aside from cold hard passion, the answer is: Fear (Oh and lots of SPF, which I’ll get to later). Now I know you may be thinking, “But didn’t you just say fear was the thing that STOPS people from dream chasing?” And the answer is yes. I live to confuse. But how you perceive and harness fear will be the determining factor that separates you from the ones who can’t seem to get their feet off the platform. Ever heard of the quote by Abraham Lincoln, “The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend?” Well, make fear your friend by using it as motivation rather than a deterrent.

Let me give you an example. After my mom passed away from cancer in 2014, I found myself spending lots of time at her graveyard. The souls of the deceased seemed to cling onto me as I wandered through the valley, painting images in my head of what their lives on earth were like. It was the words engraved on a rather dull looking tombstone that filled my heart with sadness. Words I knew I’d carry with me for the rest of my life. It read: “Regretting all the ships that never sailed”. 

Ever since that day, I was convinced that my biggest fear is living a life defined by the things I didn’t do. To go through the motions each day with no change and no improvements. To have a voice that won’t be heard. To have talents that don’t get utilized. Sure failure is scary...but it’s something I can pick myself up from. I mean, in the end maybe things won’t work out. But maybe figuring out if it does will be the best adventure ever? So from then, I told myself to just start. I made myself develop temporary tunnel vision so I could block out every single fear except for one: The fear of not living a life I was proud of.

I can’t really explain what happened next since everything happened so fast after that. I was smacked with blessing after blessing all because I was able to use that fear as the driving force for all my decisions. I guess you can also say red bull literally gave me wings since I drank it religiously to get me through the long nights. But the biggest lesson I learned from this was that starting is always the hardest part. An airplane takes off against the wind, not with it. And you can’t always wait until the conditions are perfect to begin. So start where you are because once you take flight, you never know where that wind might carry you.

So as I leave you to travel to your dream destination, I just want you to remember the three things that’ll guarantee your safe arrival: Sacrifice, perseverance and faith (SPF). You’re sacrificing who you once were to become who you want to be. You’re persevering despite your failures and doubts. And you’re learning to trust that every rejection is a form of redirection.

How can we follow stalk you on Social Media:

Website: https://mycanplan.com

Instagramhttps://www.instagram.com/canplan/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CancerPlanner/

Inspiring Friends | Karina of Metts Photo

Inspiring Business, Clickforhope, Inspiring FriendsJasmine LopezComment

Photos by Metts Photo

Who is Karina Metts?

I'm a wedding photographer with my husband in the Chicago area. I'm a homeschool mom to two pretty cool kids, and while it's not easy, I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Share a bit about what you do. What is it? How long have you been doing it for?

 I'm a wedding photographer, but beyond that I'm a storyteller. My husband and I have been capturing stories together since before we were engaged. We have officially been a husband and wife team for 7 years. My husband started the photography business in Michigan when he was a teen. He always had a love of photography. He went to school for visual storytelling and interned at a newspaper in a nearby town. I started my journey with film photography in school. Michael bought me my first digital camera and taught me how to process photos on the computer. I started shooting with him and realized it would be so fun to be able to do this together on a more regular basis. My father is an entrepreneur so my entrepreneurial spirit comes from him. He's passed down his drive and ambition, and I love it


How can we stalk/follow you on social media?

I'm most active on Instagram I have a business one @mettsphoto and a personal one @karina_mettsphoto. I also periodically post on twitter when I'm feeling witty, or want to get something off my mind. @karina_metts  I also recently launched http://www.focusyoursocial.mettsphoto.com/ which has a FB page: https://www.facebook.com/mettsphotoworkshops/
 

What's your favorite drink?

I'm pretty vocal about my love of coffee. Mmmm I enjoy my daily cup in the afternoon. I also like to splurge on a mocha every so often.

What makes you laugh?
My kids. They're silly, and hilarious. 

What does a typical Sunday look like for you?
We typically start our Sunday at church. We then have a new tradition of going to Spilt Milk in Oak Park for a cup of coffee and a treat for the kids before we go grocery shopping for the week. If we don't have any photo sessions scheduled I sometimes spend time working or just gearing up for the week.

Motherhood, homeschooling, several businesses?!?.....could we chat about that for a minute.....can you share how you organize your day?
How do you get it all done?
How do you setup yourself up for a successful day?
How do you ensure that you have intentional time with the kids? Hubby?
 

Yes, I do a lot. Sometimes I have no idea how I manage to do it all. I am really intentional about being organized and strategic. I stick to a schedule and have a strict schedule for the kids too. We typically spend the morning together. I wake up, go for a run, and get back to wake up the kids before Michael leaves for work. I get them ready for the day, the morning is left to focus on reading and school stuff. Nap/quiet time is after lunch which is when I get started on work. Since I have a limited time, I'm very focused when I sit down at the computer. Michael comes home, we have dinner together (unless I have an evening meeting or event), and I finish out the evening with more work. I try not to go to bed too late since I get up early. Before heading to bed, I plan out the next day. I plan the tasks that need to get done so that I'm ready to go in the morning. It's worked for us so far, and as long as we are keeping lines of communication open with everyone it goes pretty smoothly most days. 
 

What do you love most about what you do?

I love being able to serve our couples. To go above and beyond. To get to know them and pour into them as a couple, and be an example through our marriage.

What keeps you excited about what you do?

It's so amazing getting to document a couple's most important day in a unique way. Every wedding is completely different with different situations. I love thinking through that and creating beautiful images for them to remember 50 plus years from now.

What are you most passionate about in life?
I'm passionate about empowering others to achieve their dreams. I love encouraging others in finding their passions and helping them figure out how to achieve their desires. I especially like to encourage other mom entrepreneurs that they can live a life where they are pouring into their children while building a successful business.

In what ways do you give back to the community?

We serve in the children's ministry at our church and volunteer our photography to them for special events. I really enjoyed photographing the children's summer camp last year and seeing kids just having fun and learning new sports, crafts, and making new friends.

What was the scariest part in deciding to start your business?

I'm not sure I even thought about starting a business as being scary. Like I mentioned, it was a normal lifestyle growing up, so I just went right into it. 

Can you share a time you wanted to give up, or a struggle that you encountered?

How did you overcome it?

Yes I come across these feelings often. Haha! Every day I'm like what am I even doing?! Seriously. However there are so many people depending on me, the fact that I don't want to let them down keeps me pushing through.

What encouraging words would you tell a Momma or soon to be momma who wants to start or already owns a business?

You're not alone. It's so important to find a friend or friends who you can talk

Photos by Metts Photo

Inspiring Friends | Amy of Lecoeur Watches

Clickforhope, Inspiring Business, Inspiring FriendsJasmine LopezComment

I'm so excited to introduce you to my next Inspiring Friend!!! Amy is just the sweetest and I first met her last year at our small group. I loved being in a circle with her, and learning all about her business, how she gives back through it, and her inspiration for the brand! Be sure to read her story, follow her on IG, and maybe even buy a watch!!!

chicago inspiring stories

Who is Amy Mokris?
A creator, dreamer, believer, doer. 

How can we stalk/follow you?

My heart lives on lecoeurwatches.com, but I'm also vibin' on instagram, @amymokris + @lecoeur_watches!

What's your favorite drink?

Coffee

What makes you laugh?

Monkeying around with friends and family, dry humor, Aziz Ansari, other people laughing makes me laugh. I'm probably smiling more often throughout the day than not.

What does a typical Sunday look like for you?

I have tried to be better at honoring the Sabbath on Sundays -- resting, and spending time doing things that bring me joy (taking photos, being active, sharing ideas and meals with family, spending time intentionally instead of just passing it). I realize that when I spend time away from work, it actually helps my work grow. For me, it's much easier said than done

Please share a bit about your business, what you do, how long you've been in it?

I started Le Coeur Watch Co. in the spring of 2015 because I couldn't find a watch I really loved. Logistically speaking, the designs stemmed from that. But as I grew the brand, I incorporated elements that I felt were missing in the market: a minimalist design, a give-back approach, and a cult brand inspired by travel that stood for more than just consuming more product with no value. While my passions lie in the design and branding part of the business, I'm a creator first and a businesswoman second. Learning how to best be the latter and balance the two roles makes the business flow.

What inspired you to start your business? Does your personal story/journey somehow connect to it?

Absolutely. My background is in photography, product design and marketing, so Le Coeur has really always been this fusion of all the things I love doing. I've always said the love comes first at Le Coeur. A quote I love is, "We work from love, not for love." Le Coeur was never born out of the need or desire to make money; we have purpose first, we try to clearly communicate what we stand for, and the business works because of that. 

What do you love most about what you do?

Creating a community and having relationships with our customers who love what we stand for. When others' visions and hearts align with something you started, there's really nothing better. Our customers, and being able to create something meaningful with them, mean the world to us.
 

What's your favorite watch, timepiece, or design inspiration?

Anything classic, minimal, and meaningful. I think there's a really cool movement happening right now, where the consumer is moving towards having less things with more value, and that's right where we come in. Travel is what most inspires both me and the brand at large -- and the feeling of being so deeply connected no matter where one lives in the world. 
 

In what ways does your business give back to the community?

Every Le Coeur purchase helps charities in need both locally and worldwide.  By partnering with different organizations each month, it's our greatest goal and privilege to help create awareness for their cause and donate in ways that best support their greatest needs.

What was the scariest part in launching your business?

Le Coeur has always been fueled by pure love, so launching it was easy. Making it work is a whole other story. I think there's not enough conversation happening around that "middle" part that's so often full of tension; when you've launched something successfully and now you have to figure out how to make it scale in a meaningful and efficient way. We are constantly, and I mean constantly, learning and pivoting; We couldn't do it without Chicago's communities of entrepreneurs and mentors we seek out and try and learn from every day.

Can you share a time you wanted to give up, or a struggle that you encountered? How did you overcome it?

Something that has been a learning experience is trying to manage overseas manufacturers and ensure that their production timelines consistently align with your product launches and business cash flow. We source our watch components from all over the world, and because of retail being so seasonal, if you don't manage your timelines you could end up investing in a lot of product that doesn't hit the market at the right time, or too late for your peak seasons.

Photos by: Jazi Photo

Inspiring Friends | Ebele

Inspiring Business, Clickforhope, Inspiring FriendsJasmine Lopez2 Comments

Who is Ebele Onyema?

What does it say about me that my immediate reaction to this question is to tell you what I do?!  Haha!  I will say, though, that what I do for a living says a lot about who I am.  Or, maybe the reverse is more true.  Who I am has been the number one influence on what I do.  Sooo, without any more rambling (!), I am the Love Works Director at Soul City Church.  I oversee the strategy behind Soul City's local and global community engagement, which means I provide opportunities for people to be catalysts for change and love in Chicago and around the world. 

I love your name, can you share what it means?

Thank you!  Name love wasn't so strong when I was growing up and it was the first day of school roll call.  The teacher would inevitably get a look of consternation and nervously titter, "Well, this is an interesting one."  I wish I'd had the ability at 8 years-old to say, "Really?  No more interesting than your eight-syllable Polish last name that you managed not to look sideways at."  It's interesting how we're taught to otherize somethings, and not others. So, yes, it took a minute to get on board, but I love my name, too! My full name is Ebelechukwu.  It's Nigerian and means God's (Chukwu) mercy (Ebele.)

How can we stalk/follow you on social media?

Oh man, you'll be so disappointed if you do!  My social media game is sporadic at bes.  Facebook always left me feeling inadequate and jealous, which is my least favorite emotion to feel, so one day about five years ago it dawned on me - I don't have to engage with this.  It's like that cheesy anecdote, a patient says, "Doctor, it hurts when I do this," and the doctor responds, "Well, stop doing that."  Oh, duh!  So, I go on Facebook once a year on my birthday to be polite, but that's it.  I do like Instagram, and sometimes wish I was more consistent at it.  I take to it when I feel I have something interesting to share, and my feed makes me smile.  It feels like me.  You can find it at @bellauaswella

We're also getting the Love Works Instagram off the ground - @loveworkschicago.  We're still tinkering with what perspective we want it to have, what space we want it to take up in this world, but I feel a lot of excitement about its potential.

What's your favorite drink?

Tequila and wine!  Can I say that???  

What makes you laugh?

Um, funny stuff?  Haha!

I love going to improv shows.  I love dry humor.  I hate puns.  I like a story told with gusto.  

What does a typical Sunday or should I say Saturday look like for you since you work on Sunday's?!?

Haha, yes, Friday's are my Saturdays, which - it took a year - but I've finally gotten the hang of.  Weekend mornings I'm typically boxing or yoga-ing.  I love, love, love boxing.  It's no contact, but you are working with a partner, not a bag, so its dynamic and as close to being hit in the face as I want to get!  I love strong, powerful, brave women - I believe I am one - and boxing rewards you for being those things.  Women can't always say that about every sphere of our lives.    

What are you most passionate about in life?

Defining the shape of the space I want to take up in this world and then taking it fully, with integrity, humility, vulnerability, and pizazz.  And empowering others, particularly women and girls, to do the same.

Please share a bit about Love Works? What is it? How long have you been working at Soul City Church?

Love Works is Soul City's compassion and justice arm.  I've been on staff for fifteen months (ooo, I felt like a mom there!  "Little Scout is 44 months old." Which always sends me into a panic - soooo, what does that mean, she's 26?? I have no idea. I didn't realize our interaction was going to involve math.)  

The mission of Love Works is to educate, equip, and mobilize volunteers to transform the city and the world.  We send volunteers to our partner organizations (like preparing meals at Breakthrough or, very soon, working with churches in El Salvador), we create our own events to serve the community (like the Christmas Store and Back 2 School Bash), and we provide spaces for people to talk about social justice issues (forums on homelessness and immigration.)  In my opinion, what we do is interesting, but how we do it is everything.  We are all broken people, so there are no saviors at Love Works, just individuals who are guided by the example of The One who came to save us all.

You can learn more at www.loveworkschicago.org


What do you love most about what you do?

I'm deeply humbled by the people I get to meet.  The people we serve teach me that we are far more alike than we are different.  I think service can be intimidating for people because they're nervous they'll say or do the wrong thing or that the people they'll encounter will be so foreign from what they're used to.  But every time I serve, I'm reminded of our shared humanity, our shared identity as daughters and sons of Christ; and all the superficial stuff both melts away and recommits me to the cause.  When we meet people whom society has marginalized, and we see that the only thing differentiating their outcomes from ours is place of birth or skin color or some other superficial thing, it should make us angry.  It should make us question our seats of privilege, and want to use that privilege to make things more just.  Love Works has incredible volunteers who share that belief, so serving alongside them is also one of my favorite parts of the gig.

What keeps you excited about what you do with Love Works?

It's potential.  The people of Love Works are going to change the world.  There's no doubt in my mind.  We haven't even scratched the surface of what we can do to address systemic issues.

In what ways does Love Works give back to the community?

Love Works' sole reason for being is to engage in community issues.  We are in constant communication with our partners; they know what they need and we follow their lead.  We are also in a process of listening to the Holy Spirit to discern here we should focus.  There are so many issues in the world, we could spread ourselves very thin and not be effective anywhere.  We want to be intentional about two or three areas of focus so that Love Works can make the biggest impact possible.

What was the scariest part in deciding to be a part of Love Works?

Working at a church.  I carry a lot of church hurt from previous experiences, and it felt cruel that God would plant me in a setting that was the source of some of my most toxic self-beliefs.  But Soul City is exactly where I'm supposed to be and Love Works is exactly the thing I'm supposed to be doing, and even with that confidence, I can tell you that every inch of it is hard.  I'm uncomfortable, I'm not in control, I doubt my capacity, I'm constantly battling old stories about churches and church people that continue to surface, I'm comparing myself to an outlandish ideal, the list goes on.  Never has a job challenged me so much professionally and personally.  

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Can you share a time you wanted to give up, or a struggle that you encountered?

How did you overcome it?

I'm used to achieving on a high level professionally. Career has always been a large part of my identity, which I like, so being good at it has always been hard work for high self-reward. This new role, much to my ego's discomfort(!), has been hard work for high self-growth.

God is growing me by breaking me. I didn't catch on to His process at first. I started the job assuming, after a requisite acclimation period, I would start killing it straightaway. Well, that acclimation period is lasting a whole lot longer than I anticipated! There have certainly been wonderful victories, and there are parts of the job that come effortlessly, but I am having to rely on God more than I ever have before. It is not in my own power that Love Works is going to change the world - that has been made abundantly clear to me. I think about Moses a lot. His, "You got the wrong guy, God. I don't talk so good. I don't lead so good." And God's response, "Well I talk and lead perfectly, so when we do this extraordinary thing, all will know it's through My power in you that it was done."

I don't know how to change the world, but I'm coming to the realization that it's not my job to know how. That's God's job. My job is to dive deep into prayer and listen to where the Spirit leads. And then say yes - even if I don't get it, even if I can't imagine it. I get through struggles when I realize that I don't have to struggle, that God is capable of the super human when we allow him to be.

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What encouraging words would you tell someone who wants to work for a non-profit?

I've worked in both corporate and non-profit settings, and have loved them both. I actually like to bring a corporate mentality to my non-profit work. Measurement, analysis, processes are all music to my ears, and I think a commitment to those things are benefits a person can bring to non-profits, since often time you will be grant funded and will need to report on metrics.

I also think it's important to have boundaries and practice self care.  Because this work is values-based, we can lie to ourselves and say, "If I was truly passionate about this issue, I'd be willing to give it every area of my life." Don't do it! Hard stop.

That said, non-profits often afford you the opportunity to get your hands dirty across a lot of different areas. Get dirty! You'll be busy and maybe a little tired sometimes, but you'll be learning and hopefully really fulfilled.

Photos by: Jazi Photo

Inspiring Friends | The Whitney Show

Clickforhope, Inspiring Business, Inspiring FriendsJasmine LopezComment

I'm so excited for our new storytelling series! Over the past years, I've met so many inspiring people who are doing amazing things with their lives. I desire to empower you to know that you can make a difference in world, and to go after that BIG SCARY DREAM. I long give you an opportunity to hear their stories: learn their passions, how they got started, and any struggles they may have encountered in making their dream a reality. Each week I will be featuring a new story, and for this week, I'm excited to share Whitney with you! I met her at Soul City Church through my husband who immediately said, "You have to meet Whitney! Your visions align so much!!!" So friends I'm excited to share Whitney of The Whitney Reynolds Show. Be sure to show some love, and stalk her on social media as she continues bring forth awareness, and showcasing amazing charities who are making a change in the world.

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Who is Whitney Reynolds? 

Emmy nominated PBS talk show host, wife & twin mom. Dedicated to provoking positive change through media. ON AIR- PBS & iHeart Radio. 

How can we stalk/follow you on social media?

Twitter: @WhitneyReynolds

Instagram: Whitney_Reynolds

Facebook: Whitney Reynolds

What's your favorite drink? Guilty Pleasure is for sure a diet Dr Pepper, chilled and straight from the can.

What makes you laugh?

Currently all the crazy things my husband and I will do to make our twins smile. They love obscene noises and the chicken dance LOL

What does a typical Sunday look like for you?

Football, family and God!
 

Please share a bit about your business, what you do, how long you've been doing it? The Whitney Reynolds Show is a talk show that highlights issues that need to be heard. We are dedicated to telling stories that create change for the better good. We started online and now air on PBS in 2 markets (Chicago and The Quad Cities) on primetime!

What inspired you to start The Whitney Reynold's Show?

Does your personal story/journey somehow connect to your business? I always knew this was my journey. From a young girl I would corral my neighbors into my living room for interviews. My dream was to always create a show that is changing lives through the topics we air. In 2012 I finally got to step into that vision. 
 

What do you love most about what you do?

Seeing powerful shows air on TV. So much of my industry is flooded by gossip type shows... Love that our 30 minute program is packed with powerful info.
 

What's been your favorite topic that you've featured on your show?

This season our show on domestic violence really hit me. Our guests were victims that had enough courage to tell their stories because they knew it would help others.
 

In what ways does your business give back to the community?

Giving back is in our mission! Each show is dedicated to provoking positive change! I LOVE when I get to come alongside some of Chicago's most amazing charities to emcee their events.

What was the scariest part in launching your show?

RATINGS!!! When we launched on PBS we had to hit ratings in order for our season to air. In the case of the chicken or the egg... we went with the egg first. We taped all the shows for a season and believed it would get picked up and it did!

Can you share a time you wanted to give up, or a struggle that you encountered? When I first started my show, we were online. At the time I had very few believers that the show would get picked up. I left my TV network job and the following 6 months were a struggle.

How did you overcome it?

I fueled myself with motivational quotes and also the reminder that this show was put on my heart for a reason. Within our first year we got picked up by NBC Nonstop. NEVER GIVE UP!
 

What encouraging words would you tell someone who wants to start a talk show/podcast etc?

Know who you are and be the best version of that.

photos by: Jazi Photo

Inspiring Friends | Hope 25

Inspiring Business, Clickforhope, Breast Cancer, Inspiring FriendsJasmine LopezComment

I'm so excited to start a new series on the blog! I'm featuring inspiring creative entrepreneurs that are doing amazing things in Chicago or beyond, either through giving back or using their story as a way to help others. 

Today, I'm introducing you to Melissa of Hope 25! She's been a dear friend of mine, and this last year I got to watch her fight for her life and punch not only fear in the face, but Cancer. She is now cancer-free and started a shop to inspire and encourage other Cancer fighters.  I'm so inspired by her that I want a boxing glove necklace she sells for myself....I mean, who doesn't need to punch fear in the face?!? 

“Whatever you are passionate about, whatever idea you have, you have to let go of the insecurities and just try it.” -Melissa

Who is Melissa Tang? : I am a 20-something year old graphic designer, photographer, breast cancer survivor, and now shop owner.

Love your last name, where does Tang come from?: I was born and raised here in the Chicago-land area, but I am of Puerto Rican descent. My husband is from Venezuela and is half Venezuelan, half Chinese. That's where Tang comes from!

What's your favorite drink? McDonalds Coke all the way.

What makes you laugh?: My three year old niece. She likes to joke around and it's hilarious. It's always been her personality to try and make people laugh.

What does a typical Sunday afternoon look like for you?: Every Sunday is a little different. The best kinds of Sundays are spent going to church and then hanging out with family. Sometimes if my husband is off we'll do something fun like go to the beach in the summer or we'll watch a movie. This year it's sort of different every week. This past Sunday consisted of a buffet brunch with the fam, and then a super long nap with my hubby.

How can we stalk/follow you?: You can stalk me anytime! You can always reach me at Hope25.com. I try and blog at least once a week there. My favorite social media platform is Instagram, but I am also on Facebook as well.
Hope25.com
Instagram.com/shop_hope25
Facebook.com/shophope25

Please share what your shop is all about?: In August of 2015, at 25 years old, I found myself sitting in a doctor's office hearing the words nobody thinks they'll hear:  "You have Breast Cancer." My world was flipped upside down. I sat there as the doctor talked and all I could pick up on were words like chemo, surgery, and radiation. Once I realized that I was going to lose my hair, I started to search for hats and wigs. I realized that a lot of the websites for cancer fighters made me feel old or out of place. The idea of opening up my own shop was born.

It took a little while to get started. I lost my dad during this time as well and the pain of everything I was going through was overwhelming. I can even say that during my darkest hour I cried because I had lost hope. My world went black, but once the dust settled a bit, I put one foot in front of the other. I realized God has a plan for my life and I can't give up.

What inspired you to start your shop?: I realized that I wanted to open up a store that was a little less pink ribbon and a little more punch fear in the face. I wanted to be a source of encouragement for those who face a cancer diagnosis or any other chronic illness.  Thus, Hope25.com was born.

What's your favorite item in your shop?: I sell a boxing glove necklace that comes with a print with my motto on it: Punch Fear in the Face.  It is meant to remind someone going through a hard time that you can do this. You are not alone in the battles you are facing. With the purchase of this necklace one will be donated to someone currently going through treatment for cancer.

How has your faith helped you through the journey of fighting cancer and then wanting to encourage others also fighting cancer?: I couldn't have done this without God. There has been a sense of peace in my life that can only come from Him. I heard a song at a conference and I found myself singing along. I sang, "Break my heart for what breaks yours." I started crying thinking of all the hurting people who are going through dark times because of Cancer. If people could see God's peace in my life through my shop, that would be amazing. I pray that God guides me through this and uses me to help others. I couldn't have gone through the dark storms in life without Him.

What was the scariest part in launching your store? The scariest part was failure. What if I invested all this money and it fails? What if people hate my designs? What if nobody buys anything? At some point you have to just do it. Whatever you are passionate about, whatever idea you have, you have to let go of the insecurities and just try it, because what if you succeed? The hardest part was just getting the energy to do it at first. Chemo left me so tired and weak towards the end, but I continued to plan and just took a leap of faith. I opened up and I haven't looked back. It's been so much fun.

What encouraging words would you tell someone who wants to start a shop with a purpose of inspiring others?: As I said before: JUST DO IT. Whatever is holding you back, let it go. I'm the type of person that if I want something to get done I have to go full force before I change my mind (or let's be honest before I get lazy-haha). My store wasn't 100% how I wanted it to be when I opened up, but I had to start somewhere. So that's my advice. Just start somewhere. Just do it. Don't let insecurities take over. There will be someone that loves your store. If your heart is in giving back or inspiring others, then focus on that.  When you get discouraged because you haven't made any sales, go back to the reason why you started in the first place and begin again.