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Monica Ruffo
Well Told Health

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19: Interview with Maria Hess Collins

Maria Hess Collins:

Wow, what an interview. Today I spoke with Maria Hess Collins, married mother of 3 young boys, and founder of Dear Martha. When Maria was 16 years old, her own mother died of Ovarian cancer. Maria has very happy and fond memories of wig shopping with her mom when she was just 8 years old. And when Maria turned 34, the same age as her mother when she received her diagnosis, something was nagging at her to do something, but she wasn't sure what to do. After several family dinner conversations, she realized that she wanted to do something for women who were experiencing hair loss. With no knowledge of the wig industry, Maria started doing a tremendous amount of research at night, once her kids were in bed, so that she could start this company on her own. Please listen to how she went about juggling her mom duties, her day job, and starting a company in an industry in which she knew nothing. Maria is amazing and if you love the Sound of Music like I do, she sounds just like one of the characters - see if you agree!

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Highlights

“I don’t really know what I’m doing I’m just running as fast as I can and crossing my fingers.”

"I remember going wig shopping with my mom and my perspective as an 8 year-old was very different. At the time, it was an adventure. It was the holidays, there were Christmas lights, and my mom and my brother and I all tried on wigs. I still remember my brother with a Cher wig and we gave a thumb -up or down. It was a really happy memory.”

"When I turned 34, I had a longing that I couldn’t say or do anything to comfort my 34 year- old mom – she passed away when I was 16 but I could finally relate to where she was at that point in her life when she got that diagnosis."

"I started mulling over how could I create something that would make this journey marginally better for other women who are walking that same path. The idea of the hat with hair pieces took a little longer."

"I have 3 boys, ages 7, 4 and 2. For some reason I signed up to be homeroom mom and that’s a lot of work. Being in charge has made me so much more organized!"

"I had no idea and I knew nothing. I did a lot of reading, research online, I went to a number of wig shops and looked at different products – but I knew nothing about what I was getting into. I wanted to quit 100 times, but I kept reading and doing research."

"I chose synthetic hair because I couldn’t be certain that the human hair I would be purchasing would be sourced ethically and there’s a lot of unethical ways that hair is sourced in 3rd world countries."

"I made a half-a** excel sheet and then I jumped in the deep end. I asked my husband if I was crazy and he said, "no – go for it". At 10 pm, after the kids are in bed I’d do the work. I’m learning as I go. I started with what I know best which is hair color similar to my own – what do I like and what do my peers like. Then I thought about what style hat would I wear, or my peers wear."

"When I was doing research and trying to understand the process – I took sewing lessons because I didn’t want to sound inept when talking to manufacturers. The woman is wonderful and she and I got to talking so she’s doing a lot of the construction of the pieces."

"Advice from my husband whose kept me from quitting so many times because I have the fear of failure and it’s very real – he says there is no such thing as failure – you find out why – and you try again – there is only iterations and each time you improve on the last."

 

3 Comments

  1. I am so proud to know this eloquent young woman! I am part of her extended family (her brother is my daughter’s husband), and I want you to know she is as genuine as she comes across in her podcast. She is sweet but a fierce business woman. I did not know of her venture until recently but it is sure to be successful. A thoughtful and beautiful tribute to her Mother!

    • Randi Crawford

      She is eloquent and lovely – I’ve had so many comments about her show! All amazing and everyone is falling in love with her. Truly a tribute to her mother:) . Thank you for the feedback:)

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