Imagine being at the height of your career and you’re suddenly diagnosed with breast cancer. What do you do? Faced with this very scenario, Kathy McEvoy, creator of Celebrate In Pink, thrived. Celebrate In Pink is the first company to create beautiful breast cancer-themed party ware for women. Here’s Kathy’s story.
Let’s go back to before you were diagnosed. Tell me about your background.
I spent most of my life in the telecom industry. I worked my way up the corporate ladder and became the VP of Development. I’ve done a lot of travelling; this is all the while raising two boys. It’s easy to get caught up in a life like that. When it comes down to it, it really isn’t the things that we have in our lives that makes us happy, it’s the people and the things we’re grateful for that makes us happy. I didn’t know that until I got breast cancer. It transformed my life.
How did you react once you were diagnosed?
It was a big wake up call for me. The whole process took about a month — from the time you find your tumor to the time you go through this test and that test, the biopsy, the final pathology — before you even know if it’s breast cancer or not. I got my diagnosis on a Friday and I resigned on Monday.
When I got my diagnosis, I just put my corporate hat on to approach it like any kind of problem I would have tackled in the real world. “Here’s the problem. How do we solve it the best way that we can for the best possible outcome?” I became very focused and dedicated myself to learning as much as I could about breast cancer. I read a lot of books, and did a lot of research. I talked to a lot of people before I made any decisions about treatment.
How did your diagnosis transform your life?
Since my diagnosis, I’ve really taken a personal journey that has transformed me into a completely different person. The way that I’m living now is so much more rewarding for me than the life I was living before that. It took breast cancer to wake me up. I tell everybody that you don’t have to get a diagnosis to change your life. You don’t need a heart attack, car accident or fatal diagnosis; you have the power to actually change your life right here, right now. Don’t wait for something like this to happen.
How did you actually start Celebrate in Pink?
After my first Susan G. Komen breast cancer walk, I wanted to celebrate using breast cancer-themed party ware, but I couldn’t find any. I decided to create my own. I wanted something that women wanted to use to celebrate at any occasion, not only for breast cancer walks or breast cancer. I wanted to use that iconic theme for birthday parties, backyard BBQ’s, any kind of celebration. I wanted a way for women to feel like they’re giving to a cause. I came up with this pattern that I thought would be really feminine. It’s not an in-your-face breast cancer thing. I think it’s a very subtle, iconic, strong image. Women have heart, so I wanted a heart to be included of our iconic design. It’s gotten really good reviews and it’s being really well-accepted. It resonates with women. I think we hit the nail on the head with the Celebrate in Pink message.
What do you think accounts for the lack of breast cancer-themed party ware? Why aren’t the larger companies jumping on the bandwagon?
As far as the big companies, I think that they’re viewing it just as breast cancer awareness month — the month of October. I don’t know that they’ve done their research enough to know about all the walks that go on, the women that support women in this endeavor — I can’t answer that. We work with party shops and gift shops, but it’s only one party shop at a time and one gift shop at a time. We’re trying to grass root it because it is that kind of a thing. Nobody has a bigger heart as it relates to the cause, as we do.
Celebrate in Pink is a little over a year old. How is everything going?
We’ve been featured in a lot of the industry publications—Gift Beat, Giftware News, Greetings Etc., Party in Paper and we were featured in the local CBS station here in D.C. We’ve been getting some pretty good PR. The product was part of the Susan G. Komen walk in New York. We donated product for their Survivor Village. That was a big success.
What does your family think about Celebrate in Pink?
My husband is my biggest cheerleader and supporter. He always has been, even through my career. I have two boys, who are 26 and 21. They are supportive and they think it’s great.
What do you think is next for Celebrate in Pink?
Our long term goal is to start our own foundation. From a business perspective, we have other products that we want to bring out. Our strategy was since [breast cancer] party ware doesn’t exist anywhere in the world, we felt like that needed to be our flagship product. We want to get that out so women have it to celebrate any way they want to do. We promote socially responsible partying. We want to become the iconic—that brand you think of when you think of women helping women. We want to be the branded merchandise. We don’t want to do everything and anything, but items that women will like, items that you would typically buy in a gift shop. We want to be associated with that cause and be branded Celebrate in Pink—that everybody knows that’s the company that helps women fighting for their lives. That’s our mission. It’s been a lot of work and a lot of fun. Every step we can take helping spread the word like this is awesome. That’s what makes me get up everyday and put my all into Celebrate in Pink. I’m a voice for those women.