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Brilliant Women: Shaney Jo Darden Combines Art and Breast Cancer Awareness

by Shirley Chan {{"2016-01-20T13:00:00.000Z" | blogDate:'MMMM d, y'}}

Madison Reed celebrates phenomenal women who are making a positive impact on the world. Let’s get inspired by their accomplishments and the possibility for all of us to make a difference!

Meet Shaney Jo Darden, founder and Chief Creative Officer of the Keep A Breast Foundation. Sparked by the opportunity to save lives through art and education, she turned an art show into a movement. 

What does the Keep A Breast Foundation do?
Keep A Breast is not a typical breast cancer organization. We have engaged, educated, and mobilized an entire generation of young people through our unique approach. Never before has the generation just beginning adulthood been this educated about breast cancer prevention. This generation’s level of knowledge will lead to a decrease in future deaths from cancer. 

Now celebrating our 15th anniversary, Keep A Breast is constantly pushing the boundaries of the pink ribbon status quo, encouraging young people to love their boobies, get to know their bodies and be aware of changes. We are turning breast cancer awareness into action.

What inspired you to start this organization?
My friends were being diagnosed in their 20s, and I had no prior comprehension of how early in life breast cancer could strike. It flipped a switch in my brain and I realized that it was my purpose to start this conversation with young people about breast cancer prevention. I wanted to do something that spoke to my peers.

How did you start working in this sector?
In the beginning, I never intended on starting a non-profit. It just happened very organically with the help of friends and supporters. In 2000, my friend Mona’s mother was experiencing a returned case of breast cancer, and another friend of ours—who was our age—had been recently diagnosed. Mona and I were looking for some way to give back and we couldn’t find anything interesting that spoke to us. 

We were in the process of putting together large art and fashion events at the time called MODART and we thought, “Why not create an art show to raise awareness of breast cancer?” We asked all our artist friends to paint on breast casts and the initial incarnation of Keep A Breast was born in 2000.

Our vision is a world without breast cancer. But until then, our mission is to educate young people about the true risks of cancer, ways of living a healthy, non-toxic lifestyle and the importance of a “self check” to ensure early detection.

What’s your advice for women who want to make a difference?
Follow your heart. Choose something that makes you feel good and makes others feel good. You’re going to make a difference no matter what, as long as you’re passionate and doing it with a pure heart and intention. 

What were the main challenges of building your own business?
My biggest challenge has been turning passion into a business. I’m a creative person, so I don’t always want to think about the business side of it all. It’s really important to find a qualified and trustworthy team of individuals who compliment your talents and support your vision.

What keeps you motivated and excited?
​It's​ the little things. As an example, the mindblown look on someone's face when you tell them that the majority of hair dye out on the market contains harmful chemicals that are not regulated by the FDA and are linked to causing cancer and other diseases. ​That’s why I use Madison Reed Radiant Color, which is free of PPD, resorcinol, and many other toxic substances.

It's so rewarding to be able to open the eyes of young people about the products they use on a daily basis and to educate them on how they can make better choices. 

I also love doing creative projects that allow me to physically visualize my biggest dreams, so I can see them becoming a reality.

What advice would you give other women who are changing or building their own careers?
​Find a mentor and ask for help. 

I think many women (myself included) feel like we have to do it all on our own and that’s really not true. There are so many other women out there just like us that want to help, empower, and uplift other female entrepreneurs. 

Seek out women that you admire and would like to learn from and ask them out for a coffee to pick their brain. You may be surprised to find that most women are happy to meet you, support your ideas, and give you some guidance along the way. 

What keeps you centered on the things that are truly important?
​My practice of yoga and meditation is the most important thing I do for myself everyday. It helps me start out with a clear head and keep my eye on the prize. 

Taking the time to breathe and actually not think about anything except for breathing is so grounding. When my thoughts start to creep in, I choose one of my favorite mantras to chant. This helps guide me toward what’s truly important and that can change day to day. 

What’s the most recent thing that made you smile or laugh out loud?
During the holidays, I visited my family in Oregon. I was spending time with my two little nephews (​they have two dogs, a fish, a cat, and a bird so it's pretty lively around here) and they always make me laugh and smile. They completely fill up my heart. I don't have kids of my own, so I'm on a mission to be a really good aunt.​ 

What makes you feel beautiful?
​It's hard to explain, but it comes from the inside. When I'm feeling happy and content in the moment—after a yoga class or just walking down the street—and feeling at peace and harmony with my surroundings. 

Having a really good hair day also helps!

Do you have secret tricks to look polished when short on time?
One of my favorite quick beauty tricks is tinted moisturizer (it’s like sunscreen, moisturizer, and foundation all in one). My favorite is Complexion Rescue by bareMinerals. I also love a little bronzer all over and lip tint—then I'm out the door.

What are your tips for beauty & hair care on the go?
​I'm always on the go! My favorite things that I always carry in my purse are my coffee-flavored lip balm by Bare Bones and Madison Reed’s Tame to control frizz and flyaways. I also love Aveda’s dry shampoo—it’s a must for those no-wash days.

What are your quick & easy travel tips to look and feel good?
Good food and yoga are what keep me feeling grounded and energetic on the go. I have a subscription to YogaGlo, an amazing online service that offers yoga and meditation classes virtually with the best teachers in the world. When I'm in a hotel and only have 30 minutes, I'll pop on a chakra balancing class. It really helps me be my best that day. 

I also always travel with healthy snacks. One of my favorite ways to start the day is mushroom coffee by Four Sigma Foods (it's part coffee and part mushroom supplement so you don't deplete your adrenals). ​

Thank you for your time and dedication to your work, Shaney! It’s been a pleasure getting to know you.

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Tags:  Inspiration



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