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Jess Ekstrom Has Created Headbands Of Hope

In 2021, the global hair accessories market size was valued at USD 17.4 billion and is estimated to continue to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.7% until approximately 2028. The market growth is attributed to a rising preference for fashionable products that serve the purpose of utility as well as give a trendy look to one’s hairdo. While the early onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the market in worst-hit countries such as India, Brazil, and Italy, here in the United States, people still continued to buy. However, one such American company, Headbands of Hope, and its founder Jess Ekstrom, have found a new way to not only get people the fashion goods they want, but also give back and change lives through their company.

Since the start, Headbands of Hope has always been “mission-based”, giving back free headbands and products to kids with cancer and other illnesses. The company is at its 10 year mark and has donated back over 1 million products to these kids across America! It was so surreal to hit the million milestone! And 10 years still feels like I’m in my dorm room launching this business and hoping one person visits my website. We knew our cause would set us apart: for every headband sold, one is given to a child with cancer. But over the years, we realized we wanted our customers to not just love our cause, but love our product. We put in work and time into discovering what issues people have with headbands (like tightness or hair pulling) and made sure ours were soft on heads and adjustable for all head sizes,” says Jess.

And during the COVID-19 pandemic, Jess and the company paused for a minute and found a way to up their game and adapt to the times. “When the pandemic hit, we temporarily paused production of headbands and started producing masks. We shifted our model to meet the needs of healthcare workers and were able to donate over 100,000 masks to hospitals that needed them. Being able to pivot and address new needs has been a great quality that we have as a business.”

But the giving back never stops with Jess and Headbands of Hope. In the near future she reveals to us here at Disrupt that she has written a new tween book called CREATE YOUR BRIGHT IDEAS which “[will] help kids discover what problems they see in the world and how they want to start a business to solve them.”  And with this book launch later this year, Jess hopes that it will jump-start more female entrepreneurs like her to actually move forward with their ideas. “[Here in America] I’d love to see more funding and opportunity go to women-owned businesses, especially women of color. The numbers are still staggering that women get less than 2% of venture funding. We’d like to be a part of growing the next generation of women leaders and entrepreneurs.”

While Headbands of Hope is all about fashion, it is a leader in the space with giving back, and with that mindset of ‘people over profit’, entrepreneurs like Jess have proven that you can still succeed and make a living, but feel very good at the end of the day about what you have created and the lives you have changed through your products. And with those adaptations, the market will only increase, such has the global hair accessories market size.

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