For entrepreneur Lisa Shaw-Brawley, starting her own company was much more than a financial achievement—it was her saving grace. Nate talks to Lisa, the owner and product designer of Alphabet Moon, a company that specializes in decorative accessories for children's rooms and nurseries. Lisa shares how she overcame insurmountable odds and made her company a success.
At 24, Lisa was diagnosed with Hodgkin's disease, a form of lymphoma. After a long and difficult struggle, Lisa beat cancer and was on the road to recovery. She published a book about her ordeal, Only When I Sleep: My Family's Journey Through Cancer. Then, she and her husband gave birth to a baby boy. Shortly after, she started up Alphabet Moon, and life seemed to be picking up.
Life changed drastically when, within two months of launching her business, Lisa's husband was diagnosed with a rare form of lung disease. Fearing the worst, Lisa says she considered shutting down Alphabet Moon on more than one occasion, but her husband wouldn't let her quit. "Anytime I would say, 'I need to shut this down, let's just take a step back,' he would say, 'Absolutely not, I might not survive this—you're going to need this,'" she says.
Lisa's husband died one year later. With her young son to take care of, Lisa says she knew she had to keep going. As the company began to take off, she says the success was bittersweet. Two weeks after her husband passed away, Alphabet Moon was featured in InStyle magazine for its hallmark pillows shaped like letters of the alphabet. "There was nothing I wanted more than to show him, and tell him and share it," she says. "It was exciting, but it was missing something."
Lisa says her own battle with cancer taught her that great good can come from great loss. Although she says she has not fully recovered from losing her husband, her faith is strong. "[This loss is] supposed to continue to propel me and I'm supposed to function and transform and succeed, not in spite of it, but because of it," she says.
For others coping with loss in their lives, Lisa urges them to never give up hope. "I think it's important to always be putting yourself out there," she says. "I love sending something out—whether it's a feeling, a product, an idea—and letting whatever it is come back to me because as long as I'm doing that, then something's going to stick."
Printed from Oprah.com on Sunday, December 8, 2013