Casey, it’s such a pleasure to meet you and learn more about your story. You are a two-time cancer survivor and mom of two. We love that you started Juju Supply Co. after your friend, who was also going through a hard time, discovered that you both shared an affinity for choosing an object to bring you comfort. What was your object? How did this turn into starting your company?
I have always collected meaningful objects. In this case, it was a brass pair of lungs – a milagro that I picked up in the high desert around Santa Fe. All over the Americas people solicit divine intervention by tacking up symbolic milagros. For me, I needed to heal the cancer in my lungs. I slipped them onto a chain I always wear. There the lung milagro joined an antique indian coin my mother and I both wear, an om for tranquility, and a lilac evil eye for protection. These items became my armor during treatment — they connected me to the people and places I love and helped me maintain an empowered mindset during my ordeal. My partner and I realized that there were other people just like me out there needing a tangible reminder to stay positive during the darkest times and Juju Supply was born.
We love all of your charms and can see how powerful these must become for people. Do you design them all yourself? What is your creative process like?
We do design all of our own charms. Some we sketch ourselves and others an artist friend (Vadis Turner) tackles for us. We look for iconic and meaningful symbols from around the world and put our own spin on them. Because the brand was born in a chemo unit, we launched our line with the healing collection. From there we have added many more collections for helping people navigate tough times. We feel strongly that if you wear something intentional it helps you to focus your mind on getting better.
What advice would you tell a mama with a dream who wants to build her own business?
The more you do, the more you can do. Go for it!
I wasn’t going to wait, or take my time, or calm down – I went for it. This was the gift cancer gave me, cancer emboldened me.
What was the most helpful thing that someone did for you when you were undergoing your cancer treatments?
My friend’s sister is a healer. She gave me a couple of sound baths and crystals to take with me to treatment. One crystal went in my bra, the other in my hand. I felt strong and purposeful. I felt like I was actually impacting change and driving a positive force against the cancer.
In a different vein, a friend set me up on Meal Train – it’s a genius concept. It’s a calendar where friends and loved ones can sign up for shifts delivering meals to your home. I had a very small appetite and preparing and cooking meals for my family was the farthest thing from my mind. Having food just show up removed pressure.
How did surviving cancer, not once, but twice, affect your outlook on life? What lessons do you think are important for others to learn as well?
After cancer part two I dove head first into a full life makeover. Keeping my kids front and center; I went on to leave my marriage, my job, my house. I had the acute realization that I only had one time around and I committed to spending it in an authentic way. I wasn’t going to wait, or take my time, or calm down – I went for it. This was the gift cancer gave me, cancer emboldened me.
What advice do you have for other mothers who may also be struggling with an illness? How do you talk to your kids about what you are going through?
I was always very honest with my children. Thanks to the brilliance of cold-capping I did not lose all of my hair so I didn’t look like the typical cancer patient. I did lose eyebrows, eyelashes and lots of weight. Looking in the mirror and seeing hair on my head helped me feel less sick and I think it helped the kids in their perception of me. I never took them to the hospital, the tubes, the meds, that is too difficult to see first-hand.
How did your experience with cancer change you as a person and your relationship with our kids?
I appreciate having them so much more now. For a time, I would have flashes of them growing up without me. I am calm, patient, I listen, I hold hands, I lay in their beds. I am thankful I am alive to be their parent.
Of everything that you went through. What was the hardest part?
Hardest part was hearing that the cancer had come back. I was seven years away from my first cancer. It made me feel like my body had failed me and that some how I had created an environment that was fertile for cancer growth. I had to work hard to let that go.
What can we do to support a friend who is facing cancer?
Don’t wait to be asked to do anything. Cancer patients are predisposed to feeling like a burden and an inconvenience to everyone around them. Just show up with food. Just drop off flowers. Just keep calling, texting and emailing even if you don’t get a reply. Just do.
I am calm, patient, I listen, I hold hands, I lay in their beds. I am thankful I am alive to be their parent.
What 3 things would you recommend for someone who wants to shift their perspective and focus on the good, not bad, in life?
The good and the bad is present in every moment in life. It’s all a matter of focus really. Which do you want to see? Look for the good, the light, the positive. If you look for the yucky stuff you’ll surely find it.
Do you have any non-negotiables that keep you centered? Have you developed any time-saving hacks?
I practice Transcendental Meditation, it’s two 20 minute mantra based meditations a day that keep me completely focused and centered. It helps me to respond and not react to life. The greatest gift I ever gave myself. The other non-negotiable in my life is bright color. I am surrounded by it – it literally feeds me and makes me feel alive.
What is the first thing you do in the morning? Last thing you do at night?
First thing is meditate, last thing is watching some PBS, usually Charlie Rose which puts me right to sleep.
Listen to your kids stories with rapt attention, even if the story is boring.
Play NPR every morning.
Let your kids be individuals, resist the urge to create mini-me(s).