In 1991, Nancy lost her twenty-one-year-old daughter, Melissa, to breast cancer and lymphoma. She wanted to take some action to make that loss count for something, but the demands of her career did not allow her the time to act. Then ten years later, when Nancy lost her job due to downsizing, she had lots of time to think about what she wanted to do with her life. She began by distributing free Breast Cancer Awareness literature via the internet. Along with requests for literature came queries about where other Breast Cancer Awareness items could be found.
Nancy recognized the demand for these products and knew how to get them; she also knew that companies distributing the products donated little or nothing toward breast cancer awareness. "I thought it would be a wonderful way to make a customer's purchase count for something if it could actually benefit women who needed the help the most." She combined this idea with the reassurance by that spreading awareness of breast cancer symptoms and risks, Melissa's illness could make a difference. From these two ideas, Nancy formed the She Thinks Pink Foundation. Now in their eighth year of business, She Thinks Pink has made a name for itself by making a difference.
The highlight of her business was her Grand Opening. "When I looked around the store, I realized that Melissa would have been proud of what we had achieved in honor of her." Moments like this remind Nancy that her best decision has been to stay focused on the fact that she is in business to benefit women who are in need of assistance.
To help her do this, Nancy recognizes that she is truly blessed with a family that shares her same vision. Her husband David Knott, her son James, and her daughter, Tammy Duran, all have helped immensely in the work of She Thinks Pink. Even her three grandchildren, Robert, Sarah, and Thomas, have been in on the action!
So what is Nancy's advice to women hoping to start their own business? Plan for success! She claims the best way to do this is to do your homework by completing market research and financial planning, as well as thinking about personal time constraints. One of her favorite sayings came from a college professor who told her, "What the mind can conceive, it can achieve!"
The principle behind this saying was demonstrated to Nancy in her childhood. Her mother, a single parent, was the first woman to earn a traditionally male position with General Motors back in the 1950s. "She instilled in me a strong work ethic and knowledge that women could hold their own in the world of business."
Clearly, Nancy was paying attention to her mother's lessons, as she was the 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008 recipient of the Businesswoman of the Year Award given presented by the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Business Advisory Council in Washington, DC. She was also honored in 2005 with the Merchant of the Month Award by the residents of Old Wilmington.
Nancy encourages women to remember that something good can come out of your worst experience. "I never dreamed I would be doing what I am today, but out of the depths of my grief came an idea that allowed me the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of women and to honor the strength and courage my daughter embraced."
The North Carolina Journal For Women