[Featured photo: 13-year-old CEO of Cozys for the Cure, Jordan Phillips]

When Jordan Phillips was eleven, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer; Jordan took care of her brothers and performed household chores to keep things running smoothly. When Jordan found out that the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure was coming to her hometown, she pulled out her Christmas present from kindergarten – a sewing machine – and began stitching fabric together to make fabric coffee cup holders – known as cozies, coozies or koozies – to sell in support of Komen. In just one year, Jordan had raised $5,700, and debuted her company, Cozys for the Cure.  (Editorial note: Although there are different spellings for this product, we’re using “cozies” when talking about the product produced by Jordan’s “Cozys for the Cure” company.) 

Jordan starts by making a template out of a cereal box, which is sturdy enough to be reused as she traces the pattern onto two pieces of fabric and one piece of batting. “The batting  is important because it’s what really protects your hands from getting too hot when holding a warm drink,” she said. Then she sews the pieces together and adds an elastic hair tie and a button. The process of creating one cozy only takes about five minutes. In two years, Jordan has raised more than $18,000 toward breast cancer research. “I knew I had to keep going and raise even more,” Jordan said.

Jordan’s cozies caught the attention of the Susan G. Komen Foundation; at one of their meetings, Jordan met John Allenberg and Olivia Greenberg of Greensource, a Seattle-based apparel manufacturer. They helped Jordan get her cozies stocked at WalMarts across the country.

Jordan’s goal for the future is ambitious:  “Ultimately what I hope to accomplish from this specific project is to cure breast cancer forever.” Until then, Jordan continues to inspire: her story has been featured in a national PSA titled “Jordan is More Than Pink,” on a WOUB Public Media podcast, and shared widely on social media.

Here are some of Jordan’s tools for success:

  • “Stay in the game. Don’t give up or think there’s nothing you can do. There’s always a way to help.”
  • “Keep tweaking. It’s the tweaking that perfects the process.”
  • “Ask for help. When I get a large order, I always ask my mom to trace and cut out all the fabric for me.”
  • “Kids can do a lot. Don’t underestimate our dedication.”
  • “Take time off. Sometimes I like to sit on the couch and watch Ellen or re-runs of Full House… that time off makes me enjoy my sewing projects more.”

Living in the world is stressful sometimes, but Jordan’s persistence teaches us that we always have the option to make a difference.

Trilby Beresford is a journalist from Australia, currently residing in Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared in The Week, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls, Bullett Media, Geek & Sundry, American Film, HelloGiggles, Nerdist, Flood Magazine, The Stir by Cafemom and numerous other publications. Trilby has an M.F.A. from the American Film Institute Conservatory and a B.A. from the University of Sydney.