Emily Somers’ life was “fairly peachy”, filled with friends, family, travel and her job in advertising. That was until, just before her 27th birthday in 2012, she was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. It was her experience of “chemo, cancer, naps and turbans” that inspired her to launch Bravery Co. this year, a range of bold headscarves designed to give cancer warriors a bit of extra fierceness. Emily, who is now in remission, opens up about building her business and kicking cancer’s arse.
Manage your mindset
“I didn’t want to let the cancer ‘win’ and slow me down, or change my life. When you lose your hair, your disease is on display. [So] eventually I bit the bullet and shaved it off. I had all my friends around for my head-shaving party. Once it was all gone it was a relief. I could get on with life. Having no hair wasn’t so bad – it’s just an extreme haircut and bad hair days ceased to exist!”
Know what drives you
“I got sick of wearing my wig and I was frustrated at the lack of cool cancer headwear out there, especially for younger cancer warriors. Everything is daggy and aimed at a much older lady. So I started playing around with scarves through online tutorials with amazing African women. Once I nailed tying the turban I felt more like myself. I started getting asked how I tied my scarf. Half the time people didn’t even know I was sick. It’s this confidence that I want to pass onto others [enduring] a similar ordeal.”
Keep your focus
“I started to map everything out and the business [took] form. As soon as I designed my logo, branding and website it felt a bit more real. I’ve been working on our debut designer collection for almost a year now. It was really important to have scarves designed specifically for young cancer warriors and carry a story about kicking cancer’s arse.”
Take breaks for balance
“Being my own boss means I can make time to exercise and eat lovely healthy foods. I get enough sleep and live a balanced life. However, this can flip when Bravery Co. goes through a busy patch. Being a one-woman show, all my time is sucked up with running the business, rather than looking after me. During those times I have to almost set alarms to take breaks, go for a walk outside or to bed!” Shop the scarves, $95 each, at braveryco.com.au, with 10 per cent of all profits going to Peter Maccallum Cancer Foundation. Nice!