Work it Wednesday: New businesses inspired by adversity

5:44 AM, Sep 9, 2010   |    comments
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Christine Clifford of "Divorcing Divas"

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. -- Christine Clifford knows adversity.  At age 40, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  It was something she'd been watching for her entire adult life.

"I had a mother who was diagnosed at the age of 38," says Clifford.

"She passed away when she was 42."

She was also Clifford's only role model when it came to dealing with breast cancer.

"She became very depressed, isolated, and kind of became a recluse.  And so I thought, that's what's going to happen to me," says Clifford.

Only Clifford decided to take a different path.  "I really looked hard at what I had in my life.  A husband, two children, great friends, good work, and thought, 'I can get through this.' And so I found humor to be a great healer for me."

In more ways than one. 

Clifford, who has a background in marketing, turned her humor into a business, The Cancer Club.

She began with a book, "I'm Having a No Hair Day," a humorous take on day to day life for a woman with breast cancer. 

Soon, Clifford branched out into an exercise video for patients recovering from breast cancer surgery.

Her site now offers a free monthly newsletter, and a range of products from stuffed animals to jewelry.

More than a decade later, Clifford has found herself at the helm of another new business, also bourne out of adversity.

"I hever thought I'd hear myself saying that I'm a two-time divorcee, but unfortunately, that's where my life has brought me," says Clifford.

Through her own divorce, Clifford discovered she needed the help of a variety of professionals, from an attorney, to a realtor, to a financial advisor as well as people she wanted to connect with to understand her own actions and emotions surrounding the divorce.

About that time, Clifford connected with local author Barb Greenburg, who penned the book, "After the Ball: A Woman's Tale of Reclaiming Happily Ever After".

The two women came up with "Divorcing Divas," an all day seminar sponsored by The Crossroads group, a division of Thrivent Financial.

The seminar features 40 venders from professional and legal advisors to inspirational speakers and more.

"Our goal is to provide four of these all day seminars in the Twin Cities, up to four times a year," says Clifford, who adds there is national interest in the concept.

For Clifford, both the Cancer Club and Divorcing Divas has provided more than just a vocational outlet.

"Both businesses have been incredibly fun for me," says Clifford. "And they've been fun because they took my mind off that immediacly of what was going on in my life."

"(They) gave me something else to focus on, introduced me to hundreds of new people, opened up creative skills that I never knew I had inside of me," Clifford says.

They also drew on her marketing  experience.

"I think the number one hurdle that most companies, whether large or small, face is the marketing of their business," says Clifford.

"Lots of people have great ideas, lots of people can do the steps that are necessary to get that idea trademarked, get a website up," says Clifford.

Getting the word out is another thing, but Clifford says the business has been warmly received.  "I have been amazed at the community outreach here in Minneapolis."

"People want to come along for the ride, they relate to that," says Clifford who says because most people have been touched by either cancer or divorce or both,  they find value in the product.

The Divorcing Divas "Happily Ever After" seminar is Saturday, September 25th in Bloomington.  Oneline information is available at Divorcing Divas.





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