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Theresa Keresztes is the founder and president of Radiant Sun an eCommerce retailer and distributor of My Girls Cream, a calendula cream she discovered in Hungary and developed for other cancer survivors undergoing radiation therapy after being treated herself for breast cancer at Massachusetts General Hospital in 2008.
Radiant Sun is based in Wellesley Massachusetts and markets plant-based OTC body care products formulated to help maintain the healthy appearance of the skin during and after treatment for cancer. A portion of profits are donated to support breast cancer research.
MO: Can you tell our readers the story of what inspired you to start Radiant Sun and develop your own skin cream?
Theresa: Before I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I worked for others in a variety of capacities always working towards a goal which at times I had trouble sustaining passion for. While I always strived to do the best I could in these roles, I was in search of something more meaningful. After my diagnosis, I seemed to just be moving along as if I was on a conveyer belt, just getting through treatment and feeling my way to the next step. The cream that I discovered in Hungary prior to treatment was a lifesaver for me, completely repairing my radiation-induced dermatitis that was starting to itch and blister. The cream calmed the radiation site and enabled me to finish radiation without skin reactions that can cause delays in treatment. After consulting with my radiation oncologist and her reaction to my skin, I decided to refine the cream for other breast cancer survivors hoping to apply my skills to something with more meaning and perhaps be of some benefit to others.
MO: What were you doing before you founded Radiant Sun and were you interested in entrepreneurship before your skin cream discovery?
Theresa: Before Radiant Sun, I was a marketing professional working in small to large-sized companies creating brands for B2B and consumer products. Almost all of the jobs I had were either newly created positions where I had to start-up a new way of getting the job done or create a new service or business entity for an existing company. I guess I was always an entrepreneur or intrapreneur as they refer to it now, working as an entrepreneur within a company.
MO: Once you got the formula right for My Girls Cream, how hard was it to get distribution for this new product?
Theresa: Distribution is always difficult and takes time when you are an unknown; however our hospital sampling program and referrals from radiation oncology nurses and physicians is creating a distribution channel for us. As a result, McKesson now distributes My Girls Cream for their customers such as CarePlus CVS/pharmacy and others due to an increasing demand amongst cancer patients who seek a cream that really does help radiated skin and prevent delays in treatment.
MO: When reading about your cream and the list of ingredients, I was thinking how luxurious and environmentally friendly it sounds. I know that the cream was formulated for patients undergoing radiation therapy but do you think that it has mass market appeal?
Theresa: Yes, it does and many of my customers buy the cream after treatment ends for their face and body because of its whipped cream-like texture and plant-based formula. Calendula, extracted from the flower of the marigold plant, is one of the key ingredients in My Girls Cream and is documented in the U.S, Homeopathic Pharmacopeia for its helpful benefits with burns, eczema, acne, and wound healing. We are developing a line with mass market appeal based on customer feedback.
MO: Radiant Sun donates a portion of revenues to support breast cancer research. How important has it been for you to be able to provide a philanthropic aspect to the business towards a cause that is so personal to you and your family?
Theresa: It has been extremely rewarding. As a result of our non-profit division, we launched the My Girls Gala Fashion Fundraiser where I met terrific people and had fun working with them on a worthy cause. It has broadened my circle of friends and enriched my life while raising money for people in need which is why I will always include philanthropy in the work that I do. We are currently working on our next event that will be a relay race amongst survivors and their friends and family who will participate in an athletic event working together to help beat cancer.
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