The idea behind Compassionate Beauty was inspired by Louise, Saundra Shapiro’s best friend, who lost her battle with cervical cancer. Together, they dealt with all the harsh side-effects of cancer treatment and dreamed of a place where women could be pampered and find comfort through their journey.
Since 2005, Compassionate Beauty has been providing women with support, products and services to maintain their comfort and body image while going through cancer treatment and onward to survivorship.
MO: You’re doing such remarkable work. Can you elaborate on your “aha moment” and how your compassionate observation served as a springboard for your business?
Saundra: I would say that my aha moment came in two parts.
First, my best friend was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Through her battle, we searched for adequate products services to maintain her dignity, of which we found very few. This is where the idea behind a Centre to help provide these solutions to women started to take formation. Second, a short while after Louise passed away, I sat looking in the mirror and what I saw were 8 stiches running vertically down my cheek. Cancer had found its way into my face. I remember thinking at that moment, “well Saundra, it’s as clear as the cancer on your face what you need to do.” And with that realization, I began putting the pieces of Compassionate Beauty together in my mind, and moving forward with the concept.
MO: What did your early marketing efforts look like while trying to create brand awareness for such a unique service?
Saundra: Medical marketing was the key to understanding who and where our clients would be coming from. It was important to get my products into the hands of health care practitioners. I spent a lot of time making connections here at the Cancer Centre with oncologists, surgeons, and nurses.
Value-based marketing was and continues to be an important part of our efforts. By building trust, strong relationships, and delivering a great experience to our clients, they never hesitate to recommend us to other women in their life facing a cancer diagnosis.
While these two marketing components have been instrumental since day one, we have recently begun to implement social media marketing practices as well. Cancer patients, caregivers, and healthcare practitioners are now online sharing their experiences and looking for solutions to problems. We have the opportunity to reach more communities through our Facebook, Twitter, Blog and Newsletter campaigns.
MO: What are some of the biggest insights you’ve gained since first launching Compassionate Beauty?
Saundra: Integrity. Take integrity to work with you every day and things will always work out for the betterment of your clients, your business, and yourself. Our business policies and procedures are important, however at the end of the day, any decisions I make should be a direct reflection of my values and morals. We also take this a step further through our brand promise: to care for one another like a sister, best friend, or mother.
MO: How have you managed to become recognized as a valuable resource within the medical community?
Saundra: We keep high standards in order to deliver consistent quality and value to our clients. The medical profession likes to see results and positive care given to their patients. If you ensure all of your clients walk out happy, they will be your best adverting within their social circles and also in the doctor’s office. We have also worked hard to become industry experts in delivering beauty enhancing and confidence building solutions for our clients, which has in-turn shown the medical community that we are a complimentary part of their patient’s cancer journey.
MO: When did you know that you wanted to franchise the Compassionate Beauty concept?
Saundra: Before the Centre opened, I felt that women all over would benefit from our business model because unfortunately, cancer knows no borders. I have spent eight years learning and understanding what women want and need to get them through their cancer journey. We now know which products would give them the most comfort, and which services are safe given their compromised immune system. With all of this, we have created our franchise company and are moving quickly forward with a national expansion. We want every woman across Canada to be cared for by a Compassionate Beauty in their community. Eventually, we will also look to care for the women in the USA as well.
MO: What advice would you give to a women struggling with self-esteem or confidence issues in the face of battling cancer?
Saundra: First, I would agree that their journey is tough, for some really tough. Cancer is life threatening and it is normal to struggle, so acceptance of this fact is important. Women need to allow themselves to be vulnerable at times, and to open themselves up to the support of their loved ones. Within your community, find yourself a supportive team of experts that will rally around you in your care, and are willing to honor the way you see yourself on your journey.
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