How a cancer diagnosis inspired me to follow my business dream

How a cancer diagnosis inspired me to follow my business dream

How one Premium member beat cancer and was inspired to create a sleepwear line for breast cancer survivors.

BY Julie McGlashan, 7 min READ

The first time I met Julie McGlashan was at a Premium member dinner in my first week working in the Business Chicks office. To say I was overwhelmed trying to remember everyone’s names and businesses is an understatement, but I was struck by Julie’s elegance and passion for her luxurious line of bamboo sleepwear. Here’s her story – Nicky.   

Julie writes:

In May 2011, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Fifteen days later, I was in surgery and had a mastectomy of my left breast. Three weeks post-surgery, I started 18 weeks of chemotherapy followed by 10 weeks of radiation. The diagnosis of having breast cancer threw my life into chaos. I felt well but apparently, I wasn’t.

It was a fortunate series of events that led me to an excellent team of specialists at the Mater Hospital in North Sydney to whom I will be eternally grateful. With surgery looming, I was given a list of requirements for my hospital stay. Pyjamas with an open button front being a priority, which I thought wouldn’t be too difficult to find. It was!

I was living just out of Coonabarabran at the time and had a 12-hour round trip commute every three weeks for chemotherapy.

The hardest challenge was leaving my family for 10 weeks of radiation. On one of my trips back to Sydney I was thinking of what I would like in my pyjamas: gentle support for the one breast I had left and a pocket for a prosthesis so I didn’t look lopsided. I wanted elegant pyjamas that were comfortable, non-crushable, in a natural fibre that was breathable, soft on scar tissue and radiation discomfort, and that didn’t have characters splashed all over them.

It was then I had the idea of designing my own line, but the logistics of doing that six-hour drive to and from Sydney was near impossible. I looked at working with a local dressmaker, but again it seemed overwhelmingly difficult. In 2016, my son and I moved to Sydney for him to commence an apprenticeship, and I decided that the time was right to pursue my idea.

I am so fortunate to have a friend that is a fashion designer in Sydney who I contacted and ran my idea by, I sketched some very rough designs (and I mean rough!) and her pattern maker went from there. She has been invaluable and has shown me the ins and outs of the whole design process. They have been so supportive and have pointed me in the right direction from the small items like labels and swing tags, to my photographer and manufacturer. I am very proud of the fact that my pyjamas are designed and manufactured in Marrickville, Sydney and it has allowed me to be totally involved in the whole process.

Starting a business on my own was and still is my biggest challenge.

Not having a partner, either business or personal, to bounce ideas off and suggest alternatives. Even just that “have you thought about this?” or “I think that..” but when it’s just you, you carry the whole caboodle.

Overcoming self-doubt is a biggie. Many times, I felt it was too overwhelming, and I wanted to quit, but my children have been motivation. I have always tried to instill in them that you finish what you start, and so I pushed through the tough times to get the job done. I didn’t want to look like a failure to them and wanted them to be proud of me and what I had accomplished.

My goal has always been to help other women feel comfortable and elegant.

Even before I had a mastectomy, I was frustrated that I couldn’t find pyjamas that supported me. I understand how difficult it is for women after surgery, but my pyjamas are for all women. They’re perfect for maternity as they give gentle support for tender breasts, large-breasted women, and women who just who want to feel good and look great. And for anyone post-surgery, I hope my pyjamas bring a small pleasure at a difficult time.

Becoming a Business Chick has been one of the best decisions I have made.

I was feeling very alone navigating my way through my business start-up and moving to Sydney. I feel part of an amazing women’s network where I am surrounded by positive, motivated women who are there to support each other. I have attended several Business Chicks functions and have come away feeling like I can conquer the world! The women I have met and the guest speakers have inspired me and filled me with positivity, which I have needed! The concept of swapping business cards has enabled me to keep in contact with them and when I launched my business online, I emailed each of them and asked them to check out my website and let me know what they thought. They have all been genuinely supportive and positive of what I am doing: it’s been incredible.

Being a Business Chick means being part of a movement of women who are there to support each other, motivate each other, ooze positivity, and be accepting and non-judgemental of each other.

I am so grateful for the chain of events that led me to Business Chicks last year. I love that you arrive at an event and don’t know anyone and leave with a fist-full of Business Cards and new friends. It’s been lots of laughs, and recently after a Premium member dinner, even Samba dancing into the night!

connect CONNECT WITH JULIE HERE. And take a look at Perky Pj’s, Julie’s luxurious line of bamboo sleepwear here.

Images: supplied


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