March 9, 2013 if you are in the Greater Washington DC area – Maimah Karmo and The Tigerlily Foundation will be hosting the Pajama Glam party to raise money and awareness for the Tigerlily Foundation, an organization that Maimah founded to address the unique needs of young women aged 15-40 diagnosed with breast cancer. MyCity4Her recently caught up with this fearless women entrepreneur, author, business owner, motivator and charitable champion and asked her to share some words about the power of when vision meets entrepreneurship.
Why did you decide to become a business owner and/or create something that was your own?
I always knew that I wanted to run my own business and be an entrepreneur. I also knew that I wanted to help people. I dabbled with a few ideas, but nothing stuck. In 2006, I was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer. During my second round of treatment, I realized that I wanted to help other young women living with breast cancer and educate young girls and the community as a whole about the disease.
What in hindsight would you say you underestimated about your industry or business and why?
I would say that I had no idea how much work, commitment, juggling and/or sacrifice it would take to start a non-profit organization, build, sustain and grow it. I started my organization from a place of passion and with no non-profit training, so everything I learned happened organically. I love what I do, though, and would not change a thing about how I got here; although I would encourage anyone starting a non-profit to talk with other non-profit leaders and learn as much as possible about the industry and their specific focus area before starting.
What is the best business related advice you have ever been given?
When you have your own business, you’re constantly looking for ways to improve, you’re wondering if you are making the right decisions and you’re juggling financial issues, operations, personnel, strategy, marketing, social media, programs, etc. Sometimes, it is hard to turn it off. Several successful leaders I’ve met told me the same thing at different times – to know when to shut off work and focus on the self. That way, you have a balance, and you take care of your most precious commodity – you, which in turns enables you to be successful at your business.
How have you chosen to be a Charitable Champion?
I founded my organization, the Tigerlily Foundation, to educate, advocate for, empower and support young women – before, during and after breast cancer. Tigerlily Foundation provides peer support, buddy bags, meals, financial assistance and more to young women – 15 – 40 diagnosed with breast cancer.
What drives your desire to give back?
Tigerlily Foundation – because it is my passion and life’s work. Younger women tend to have more aggressive breast cancers and higher mortality rates, often because they are diagnosed at later stages. This means that it is important to target them earlier and educate providers about the importance of being more aware of the needs of this population. I love being able to educate a young girl about her body, to reach young women and to inspire them to be their own best advocate. It also makes me very happy when a young woman in treatment receives our services and through our work, she has renewed hope for life and the future.
Do you feel being charitable has helped you grow your business?
I feel that my life began when I began to think more about others – through my charity and less about myself. Through Tigerlily Foundation and being able to help others, I realized that our true purpose on this Earth is to help improve our communities and world. In 2012, I published my memoir, which hit the Amazon bestseller list within the first week, called “Fearless: Awakening to My Life’s Purpose Through Breast Cancer“. The title was symbolic of my personal and professional growth. As I shifted and became more philanthropic, my world expanded.
How can people support your efforts?
People can visit www.tigerlilyfoundation.org to donate, volunteer or sponsor. They can also purchase my book on Amazon by searching for my name or the name of the book.
If you had to share one final thought with our audience of thousands of women in business, what would it be?
It would be to follow your passion, be relentless in pursuing the desires of your heart and never accept “no” for an answer.
On February 28, 2006, Maimah was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer. After her second round of treatment, Tigerlily Foundation was born. Tigerlily Foundation offers programs which supportsyoung women with breast cancer. In October 2011, Maimah was appointed to the Federal Advisory Committee on Breast Cancer in Young Women. Maimah has appeared in various media outlets, to include O, the Oprah Magazine, Essence, Ladies Home Journal, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, Good Housekeeping, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, Redbook Women and Cancer, Cure Magazine and more. She has also been featured on Fox 5, ABC 7, CBS, the Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America and numerous national radio stations. In 2012, she released her memoir, Fearless: Awakening to My Life’s Purpose Through Breast Cancer. Most dear to her heart is being the mother of a beautiful 10-year old girl.