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?!?
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.
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.