5 Women, 3 Hours, 2 Bottles of Red, and a Business Plan.

Reading the title of this post might fill you with thoughts such as, “feminist issues…I’m out,” or “sounds like something Carrie Bradshaw wrote. I’m more of a Miranda anyway,” or “alcoholism is not the way”.

If these thoughts were similar to your own, then I’m sorry but you are dreadfully mistaken. Five women with three hours and two bottles of red wine do write a killer business plan. After all, women are known for their multi-tasking abilities. Branding, marketing, events, products…we did it all – on my veranda, with a $30 Dominos delivery deal.

This post is not about women in business. Nor is it about wine (and two bottles is nothing between five anyway, just saying). It is about being passionate enough to work for a cause; inspired enough to spend hours of free time working pro-bono; and ambitious enough to start an organisation from scratch.

I started Scar Stories in 2011. The first event was an exhibition held in January 2012. I pulled it off, thought, “how good am I,” and kept going. November 2012 saw the second Scar Stories exhibition land in Melbourne, Victoria with the help of design goddess Kylie Cobb. It was a success (a triumph!), but it became harder to progress with such a small team. We picked up pace in 2013, with some new inspiration stemming from the Sunshine Coast art expo Life Art Worldwide. By Christmas we had spread our wings and made contact with not only Dallas Frasca, Victorian rock n’ roller, but also Doug Falconer, drummer of iconic Aussie band Hunters & Collectors. January 2014 showed us that the force of well-known ambassadors is one to be reckoned with. 460 people showed up for a secret Hunters & Collectors benefit concert in Castlemaine, Victoria. The theatre donated all profits to Scar Stories and the consequent patron support was priceless. We were in the door…

This month we are officially incorporated, and there are at least three major events ahead of us for 2014. It’s business time. So we had a planning workshop on Monday night. President, Secretary, Treasurer, Marketing & Graphic Design Director, and Public Relations Consultant. Five creative individuals dedicated to making these events a success. It’s amazing what surfaces when you put that many heads together.

We all work full time, so it is amazing that we were able to function at all in a meeting commencing at 7pm on a Monday night. I guess that’s the power of a good cause. Two women at that table were there in the hospital, three and a half years ago, watching me lose my hair after being diagnosed with an osteosarcoma. I imagine it would be hard for them not to be ardent about assisting young adults going through cancer treatment. That said, we all have lives; all encompassing, distracting, important lives. Our head of Marketing & Graphic Design has two children and a husband and a business and a brother and a mortgage. Kudos to her as she wasn’t the first to fall asleep….

What makes Scar Stories special, in my eyes, is that despite the abundance of existing obligations in our lives, we are dedicated to this cause. Because it’s special. But we had to put that in writing. I’d had two glasses of Cab Merlot at this stage.

First on the agenda was Values: what core organisational values must be imbedded in our organisation to establish a culture capable of achieving our Mission? That’s easy. Isn’t it? Let’s head back to my Year 10 resume – hard-working, team player, punctual, attention to detail….hmmm wrong! The conversation surrounding this question could last hours in another organisation, but for us, it was absolute. Our organisation isunique and it truly does take, in our experience, certain passionate individuals to exemplify the embedded values. Energetic, Passionate, Creative, Daring, Innovative…we’re sounding a bit like ‘Apple Inc.’ aren’t we?!

Second on the agenda: Goals – make money, raise awareness, support young adults with cancer. Easy. “How do you differ from other organisations; what makes you competitive?”…oh, tough one. It seems ridiculous at first to be ‘competing’ against other charities. We’re all striving for a better world; for more support for the disadvantaged. The ugly truth is that, in fact there are thousands of charities and not-for-profits around the world vying for the attention and wallet-occupants of the developed world. Australians are, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, quite a generous population, and so a positive outlook on the whole thing is that we’re giving the people every opportunity possible to donate to their favourite cause. Australia is not going to lose a cent of charitable giving due to complacency, that’s for sure.

Scar Stories provides something new. We target a population that is flailing in the cancer world. With adolescent and young adult (AYA) diagnosis and cancer fatality rates either increasing or remaining stagnant, while others improve, it is imperative that we focus our attention here. Added issues surrounding cancer in young adults are self-esteem, fertility, education and career disruption to name a few. Why wouldn’t you support this?! Well that’s how we feel. We at Scar Stories Inc. are intensely aware of the deficiencies in cancer care for AYA patients. We are passionate, energetic, and daring…we are the Steve Jobs’ of the charity world, with sexier reading glasses.

It’s a team of real people, with real connections to cancer, that take their sentiments and turn them into an exhibition (May 2014), a book (July 2014), a music festival (October 2014) and a movement – to bring to light issues surrounding young adult cancer and to empower young people to see their scars in a new light. The team, the hours, the wine, the business – it sure helps me see my scar as empowering and beautiful.

This is Scar Stories 2014. I’m ready. Are you?!