We had the good fortune of connecting with April Stearns and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi April, what is the most important factor behind your success?
In a word: pivoting. Pivoting my business changed everything, and is the most important factor behind my success today.

In April 2020, at the start of the pandemic, as the world grappled with the arrival of a novel virus and school children and workers alike shifted to staying home for safety, I found myself waffling between worry for my family and wondering: is it ethical to continue to do business in this new environment? When everyone was scared of covid-19, could I continue to charge for my goods and services? Would people even have money to spend on non-essentials in light of this new threat?

Over the course of a week, I realized I might lose my business and in that moment I realized how much it meant to me. How much I didn’t want to lose what I was just getting off the ground. I didn’t want to lose four years of work, four years of passion, four years of purpose. I realized that while covid-19 would change things, people still deserved to be able to access what I had to offer.

I started to listen to business experts talk about how critical America’s small businesses are to the fabric of our economy. While some devoted time and energy to decrying the shelter in place orders, saying they would be the death of small businesses everywhere, I tuned in to those posing a solution. They said it was time to pivot. It was time to ask, “How can I help?”

In the span of just one month, for the first time ever, I became not just an editor and magazine publisher, but also a teacher and facilitator of worldwide meet-ups: I began offering online writing classes to the young breast cancer community. It required that I become visible in my business in a new way and respond to the needs of my community to gather in a safe way despite the uncertainty happening all around us.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I publish the only magazine out there that is both by and for the young breast cancer community. The magazine is ad-free, 100 pages, and stunning in its layout and photography. Each issue is comprised completely of stories written by survivors from all over the world, from all stages of breast cancer, all diagnosed under 50. Traditionally, breast cancer affects women over 60, so this is an underserved population, hungry for age-specific resources. The stories are personal narratives that dig deeply and intimately into each woman’s unique story.

I help women write these stories in the on-going writing workshops.

And, we bring the whole thing to life on the podcast where the women read their stories, we talk about the healing power of writing as a valuable tool in fighting breast cancer, and I share writing prompts there for the listeners as well.

The unique energy behind Wildfire is that the whole things is age-specific, and focused on storytelling as a healing art. Each stage of breast cancer is welcome from Stage 0 to Stage IV.

I had breast cancer myself at age 35. I was diagnosed with Stage 3c. I have two employees and both of them were also diagnosed with breast cancer under 45. I feel this makes Wildfire a very organic resource for the community at every stage. We also give back to organizations that fund research to end the deaths from Stage IV metastatic breast cancer.

People have asked me along the way why I won’t make Wildfire for all people diagnosed with breast cancer at any age. I feel strongly that young women need resources that speak to their unique experience of being diagnosed well before menopause. This includes discussions of fertility and infertility, sex and intimacy, money and careers, body image, mental health, and more.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned along the way is it takes time to build trust. I am now in my 6th year of business and it has taken each and every day of showing up and doing the work to build the community that I have today. They are the most incredible community, incredibly loyal fans. I am grateful to be in the business of serving them so that the breast cancer landscape is better for them than it was for me when I was diagnosed 10 years ago.

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I want to give a shoutout to Dana Donofree the founder of AnaOno Intimates, a business that provides bras and swimwear for women following mastectomy surgery for the treatment of or prevention of breast cancer. Dana is a few years ahead of me in her breast cancer survivorship and entrepreneurship – she has been a wonderful trailblazer and mentor particularly with regard to doing business in the cancer space. She has given me and others leadership and paved the way for survivor-led businesses.

Website: http://www.wildfirecommunity.org

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/wildfire_bc_community

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aprilstearns/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/real_wildfire

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/wildfirecommunity

Image Credits
April Stearns

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