36-Year-Old Entrepreneur Battling Stage 3 Cancer Believes Her Diagnosis Is a Gift

Dawn Myers, founder and CEO of THE MOST, a beauty-tech company that markets a patented detangling tool for women with curly hair, has recently taken to Instagram to share her diagnosis and journey battling Stage 3 colorectal cancer.

While the cancer diagnosis initially sent the 36-year-old spiraling into a place of despair, she now has a positive outlook on what ultimately may be the battle of her life. BLACK ENTERPRISE sat down with Myers to learn how she is navigating the day-to-day realities of running a company and fighting cancer.

Tell us about THE MOST.

The business that I am building, our hardware and our technology, is kind of industry-busting. It’s really amazing stuff. We are taking the Keurig model and we’re applying that to the hair and beauty space. We’re taking that pod model that Keurig really made take off, and we’re filling those pods with creams, curl, gels, oils, all the stuff that you need to keep natural hair healthy. And we are inserting it into a tool that helps streamline the major pain points in wash day. That helps us detangle, that helps us apply product faster, that helps ameliorate some of the issues around portability and convenience. And we’re doing that through partnerships with some really amazing liquid product brands.

What are some of your “wins” to date?

I’m really proud of what our team has been able to accomplish over the last four years, starting with building a strong advisory team with operators from Keurig, Proctor and Gamble, CVS, Dow, and L’Oréal. Additionally, we have gone through some of the most competitive accelerator programs in the country—Sephora’s Luxury Beauty Accelerator, Google for Startups, and NextFab’s Rapid Hardware Accelerator. We have also raised over $750,000 of capital from a diverse group of institutional funds and strategic partners including Black Star Fund, Fempire Fund, New Voices Fund, Dow, Glossier, Proctor & Gamble and Shea Moisture. We are now gearing up for a $2.5 million series seed fundraise.

That’s impressive! Can you talk with us about the day you got the cancer diagnosis?

Yes. I had to grapple with the potential that I might not be able to move forward. That I might have to just stop and look—it took me to a very dark place. It took me to a place where it just felt like the world was caving in on me. And I didn’t feel for some months like I could handle it. I didn’t feel like I could pull it off.

It got to a point where I had to decide that I was going to move forward or I was going to stop right there. And when I say I was going to stop right there, I mean that in very morbid terms. I think that’s something that we don’t talk about enough as entrepreneurs, because that’s a moment as I become more vocal about this—that’s a moment that a lot of entrepreneurs have, whether it’s because of a cancer diagnosis or something else. I had to make a very firm decision to let my faith carry me and to keep going.

Many people might be wondering, as a CEO, how do you plan for severe illness? 

Yeah, I would say the first thing that I would have done even before getting this cancer diagnosis is just bringing in more money. As Black entrepreneurs, we tend to ask for less because we know what the landscape is. We’re just trying to get enough to get by. But then you end up working the job of five or six people. Then, what happens when you’re out? Now you’re five or six people down, not just one person down.

And then there are just some infrastructural things that you want to have on hand. You want to have your succession plan, and that’s something that you want to build with your board and with your advisors and with your team so that everybody understands and is primed in case the unfortunate happens. No one is shocked by what this is supposed to look like. It’s like doing a fire drill so everybody knows this is what it’s going to look like.

Having a durable power of attorney is also really important. When you’re encountering health issues, everybody thinks of the health POA, which is really important. But you also need a durable power of attorney and somebody who really understands both your finances and the businesses finances so they can make decisions on your behalf.

Then, having a board—I have a board for my company and I have a board for my cancer. I have women and men who have gone through this process who can give me really good intel on what this actually looks like. I brought doctors of mine onto certain calls so that they can answer questions. Everybody can kind of be on the same page about timelines, expectations, and what I’m likely to be able to handle.

You’ve said before that your cancer diagnosis has empowered you in a way. How so?

Cancer has given me tremendous confidence. Now, I’ve never lacked confidence. But this cancer diagnosis took that to a completely different level because I found that whatever imposter syndrome you have, whatever doubt you have, that it is really you, your merit, your ability that’s getting you through. I’m doing this with cancer, right? So it must be me! I must be good enough. So it just kind of amped me up a little bit more.

And especially being a woman in this space and going into these meetings, I think a lot of times we feel like we have to lean a little bit on our aesthetic. The hair has got to be done, the nails got to be done. You got to be on point. And I don’t have time to do that anymore. I just literally don’t have the bandwidth.

Thank you for being positive, and for sharing your story. We’re watching. We’re rooting for you. Please drop a call to action for people who want to visit your company website and follow you.

Yeah, if you want to follow me @dawndoesthemost on Instagram. My company is THE MOST. You can find us @themostcurls on Instagram. We’re actually spinning up a brand-new brand very soon, and you can also visit: https://themostcurls.co/ to learn more.