Conversations + Colour: Emily Somers
Many years ago, paths - serendipitously - crossed with Emily Somers. She is one of the best and most powerful women we've ever encountered. Radiant and an orb of positivity and goodness and empowerment.
In case you've not come across Emily, please - allow us to introduce you. She's brilliant. We want to be more like Emily. She is a cancer ass kicker, both personally and professionally. The founder of Bravery Co. has kicked cancer's ass not once, not twice, but three times.
What a bloody powerhouse.
Inspired by her own experiences and insights into enduring rounds of chemo, navigating cancer, naps, and turbans she launched Bravery Co. Joyfully designed headscarves and hats for cancer patients around the world, in the hope it would lend them bravery for their own fight.
Emily has shared her highs, lows and everything in between - and continues to do so. We're grateful for the passion and love she puts into everything - and also the meditative quality of her turban and headscarf tutorials (my goodness, she sure knows how to weave magic with those hands). Now mum to beautiful Sid, we got to catch up with this truly incredible woman and chat about all things Emily Somers.
Emily Somers - tell us who you are: Hi, My name’s Emily. I’m 36, I live in Melbourne with my partner Psembi and our hurricane son Sidney. I run a small biz called Bravery Co, I’m a coffee addict, I love flea markets and the beach is my happy place. I’ve also had cancer three times which has had a big impact in the way I live life and my sense of purpose.
You have kicked cancer’s ass three times, and supported many, many women through their own cancer ass kicking journeys. What is one thing you wish you knew before you started treatment? The easiest answer would be to know everything was going to be ok. I would have had more sleep and probably far less worry lines!
I also wish someone had taught me the art of accepting help. Friends and family are so desperate to help in these shitty situations but I was so determined not to burden anyone with my cancer crap. Once I was ok with asking for help it benefited both me and my support crew.
I wish I understood more about rest, healing and recovery. I was 26 when I was first diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma – young, stubborn and fuelled by FOMO. I didn’t want to miss out on anything and hardly slowed down. I am only now learning what proper rest and relaxation is and how important it is for the body to heal. I’m still not great at going slow – I’m still very much learning but I’m much more conscious of my body, better at checking in and figuring out what I need.
(That was three answers, not one but I justify this by giving one answer per cancer diagnosis. Ha!)
Did you have a moment of self-discovery or revelation after your diagnosis?One of the benefits of cancer is the fact that you’re pulled out from the rat race called life. Sure you’re put on a rollercoaster of appointments, treatment, scans and hospital visits when first diagnosed but there are pockets of time when you’re exhausted and can’t do anything but lie on the couch and look at the ceiling. My ‘aha’ moments came in the way of realising I wanted to be my own boss, I’m meant to live by the beach, that scarves are pretty powerful pieces of fabric and it helped me find a new sense of purpose through helping chicks feel stylish and a bit badass through cancer.
Most of these things I probably would have realised without cancer, but it certainly gave me the kick up the ass I needed. It makes you realise life’s too short to faff around.
What is the best advice on how to support a loved one who is kicking cancer’s ass - what should we know? Dealing with cancer, whether you’ve been diagnosed or it’s a friend, is pretty scary. You’re going to be put outside of your comfort zone and have conversations that terrify you. But you need to keep it together and be a rock for your cancer warrior mate. (At least in front of them.) Here are my top tips on how to help a warrior mate.
Don’t tell them about your Aunty/friend/ hairdresser/babysitter/dog that died of cancer.
Don’t tell them that your dental surgery was exactly like what they’re going through.
Agree that this is fucked, hold their hand, let them cry and then help them get through it.
Do practical things without asking. Do the dishes, hang out their washing, tell them you’re going to pick them up for the next appointment, and babysit their kids. It’s hard to accept help so make it easy for them.
Check in via text but try to end your message with ‘no need to reply.’ A good friend would do this and it took off the pressure to respond straight away as your inbox is always full and you have limited energy.
How did your brand Bravery Co. come about? When I was sick, it was my headscarves that helped me accept and learn to love my new shiny, hairless appearance. This stupid disease robs you of many things but I wasn’t going to let it take away my style or confidence to face the outside world. Wigs were too itchy and I wasn’t bold enough to go full monty, but with a turban on my head, I felt like Emily and not a cancer patient.
I got stopped quite a few times by other cancer warriors in the hospital asking me to show them how to tie their headscarf. I still remember the first woman I helped and how her whole body language changed when she saw how great she looked in her newly tied scarf. You can tackle so much more when you feel confident and sassy – cancer included. It was at this moment that the idea for Bravery was born.
You’ve worked with some awesome collaborators over the years - how do these come about? We really have! I sometimes need to pinch myself when I think of some of the superstars who we’ve made scarf babies with. So many illustrators have discovered us on Instagram and asked to make a scarf which blows my mind. Then there’s some Instagram stalking from my end and last year we ran our very first Art Competition. We picked 10 designs out of hundreds of entries and we’re slowly releasing them this year. We’ll be running the design comp again this year so follow us on the gram for details.
Favourite Bravery Co. scarf ever? Oooph. This is like asking me to pick my favourite child. At the moment though I’m loving our ‘Fuuuuuuuuuuuck scarf’ by Luke John Matthew Arnold. It’s big, bold and bright and all about releasing shitty vibes by screaming the word ‘Fuuuuuuck.’ Perfect for every cancer warrior.
We REALLY love your turban tutorials. How did you learn so many styles? When I first lost my hair I freaked out because the existing chemo headwear companies were super daggy. Nothing a 26 year old wants to wear. I jumped on Pinterest and made loads of mood boards and watched a lot of turban tutorials. I was inspired by turbans and fashion from the roaring 20’s and beautiful African women in their bright and bold wraps. Plus a whole lot of sitting in front of the mirror playing.
Beauty: I don’t wear much makeup but don’t leave the house without colouring in my eyebrows with a bit of dark eye shadow.
Wardrobe item: Apart from a scarf? ;) Obsessed with my new fave item is a pair of blue pants by Julia Allert. Great for Melbourne’s cold winter.
Pantry: Dark chocolate.
Breakfast venue: Three Bags Full in Abbotsford
Dinner date: Bar Liberty in Fitzroy.
Song on repeat: I’m sad to say that my Spotify is now ruled by The Wiggles. So Hot Potato?
Instagram account: @thecancerpatient for funny cancer insights, @antje.damm for random cute dioramas, and @pottymouthmama during MET gala time!
Fashion inspiration: Loving anything posted by @blaireEadiebee So much colour! And @ladoublej for the pattern inspo and @stylebydeni for all the fabulousness.
You’d rather be...
Country or city? COUNTRY. I grew up in the Dandenong Ranges with Puffing Billy running at the foot of our property. There’s nothing more calming and grounding than cold clean air, hearing the wind through the trees, and seeing the colour green from ground to sky. I’m still living near Melbourne but slowly plotting my real-life escape to the countryside.
Cinema or Netflix? I love the romance behind the cinema. I love watching the trailers, being completely absorbed in a new world and coming out dehydrated from eating the entire extra large popcorn. However I have to confess that after having Sid we are large consumers of Netflix.
Best advice you’ve ever received? Don’t let perfection be the enemy of good.
Favourite Little Tienda piece? My beautiful new Sunshine Gingham Britta Dress. I’ve never felt more feminine. I could twirl for days in that dress!
In one month Emily Somers will be… Getting ready for a trip to Greece!!! AHHHHHHH!
You can find Emily on Instagram here, and take a look at her beautiful scarf collection at Bravery Co.