Cancer sufferer finds business opportunity in tragedy

While Turner had always admired and felt inspired by other female entrepreneurs who had created their own companies, she hadn't had the spark of creativity needed to start her own business. "I had always wanted to do something myself, but never really knew what to do," she says.

Then in 2010, aged 35 and three months after the birth of her daughter, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. During treatment as she lost her hair very quickly, she felt uncomfortable in a wig and couldn't find any quality, stylish headwear online.

This experience inspired her to launch a hat company that offers fashionable hand crafted hats for women with hair loss, caused by chemotherapy or alopecia. She named the business Elizabeth Rose London after her daughter.

She says, the biggest challenge she faced launching her new venture was keeping her energy levels up. "I was still recovering from the cancer and I was just hitting a brick wall at five o'clock," she explains.

It wasn't easy getting funding, but she was able to secure a £3,000 bank loan to go towards a marketing campaign. Despite a few challenges, Turner was encouraged by the support she received from other woman and the milliners who were willing to work with her to design and manufacture the hats.

Starting Elizabeth Rose London has been a massive learning curve for Turner, who worked as a personal assistant for 18 years before starting her own business. "This is completely new to me. I am even learning a little bit about the fashion side as well," she says.

Elizabeth Rose London released its first collection last December. Since then, the company has made a few slight changes. "The winter collection was aimed at a much higher market and the prices were much more expensive. Because I didn't get many customers, I decided the line should have more personality," says Turner. "I decided for the Spring/Summer collection that I should use real women to model the hats and also I brought in a slightly less expensive price range."

The hats are handmade to order by British milliners chosen by Turner, such as Karen Henriksen, Noel Stewart and St. Saviours, and they are sold exclusively on the Elizabeth Rose London website.

While the business had a slow start, Turner is planning to launch a stronger marketing campaign to hopefully increase sales and she has big plans for expansion. The aim is to expand the business to include a lingerie line, beachwear, and fashion tops for women that have had breast surgery because she thinks there is very little available for them. "I would like to say that the hats are just the start for Elizabeth Rose," she says.

For more information on Elizabeth Rose London visit Elizabethroselondon.com.

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