How One Entrepreneur Didn’t Let Breast Cancer Get In The Way of Her Success

Leslie with her girls.

When Grill Charms™ creator, Leslie Haywood, agreed to participate in a guest interview for our blog we were ecstatic to share her story with our blog readers. We KNOW you are going to love her story.

We’ve known Leslie Haywood for over a year now and, to date, she has been one of our favorite patients! When Leslie was diagnosed with breast cancer, she came to the team at The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction to receive a breast reconstruction procedure from Dr. Craigie. And something sort of funny happened. She made her first Grill Charms™ sale topless in the doctor’s office! But I won’t spoil the story for you (and there’s even a SPECIAL OFFER, just for you, our blog readers, at the end of this blog post!).

Read below for Part I of our exclusive interview with Leslie:

1. You are truly an inspiration to women who have been affected by breast cancer! You started your own company, Grill Charms™, and had mommy responsibilities, all while you were undergoing treatment for breast cancer. Tell us how you managed to stay positive and what inspired you to keep moving forward with your business during this difficult time.

Yes, two months into starting my company I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I can’t say it was much of a surprise. My first introduction to breast cancer was 1989 when at the tender age of 16 my 30-something-year-old parents told us that my mother had breast cancer. By the time they caught it, she was stage IV and the doctors told her she had 6 months to live.

In the months that followed,  my parents along with their best friends stayed up nights and weekends trying to figure out how my father, who was a master chief on nuclear submarines in the Navy, and only home 6 months out of the year was going to raise his 10, 12 and 16 year- old daughters alone. I had been living with the reality that there was a high probably that someday; I too might be facing this disease. The fact that it happened shortly after I started on my quest to conquer the world one cookout at a time, was a bit of a nuance however!

It wasn’t long when the sentinel node biopsy showed that THIS cancer would not kill me. We knew early on that I would not have to make plans for my daughters’ lives without a mother. I think it was during this time that people started thinking I was in denial. Here I was, diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 34 with 1 and 3 year old daughters, a brand new company and yet I was truly the happiest women on earth. “You mean to tell me doctor, that I have breast cancer and you didn’t give me an expiration date??!?!”

Non terminal breast cancer . . . what a precious, precious gift I was given! Now that it is all said and done, I’ve got two brand new pieces / parts (and let’s face it . . .  after nursing two babies, they weren’t much to write home about anyway), a bonus tuck (THANK YOU DR. CRAIGIE!) and most importantly . . . I get to live. I always viewed them as a pair of B-sized ticking time bombs anyways, so good riddance. There was certainly no time to dwell on THAT, I had steaks to save and taste buds to rescue! By the way . . . about my mom . . . the doctors underestimated her… my mother is still here, 23 years cancer free!

2. Grill Charms™ are adorable and perfect for individuals who love to host outdoor parties. What are Grill Charms and how do they work?

Why thank you! Grill Charms™ offers an entirely new concept in outdoor entertaining. They are dime-sized solid stainless steel charms that are placed in your food BEFORE grilling. The serrated stems hold them in securely while flipping, moving, and grilling food like you normally do. Grill Charms™ are you use in food prior to cooking to distinguish spices and flavors, steak temperatures, or to avoid health or allergy issues. Grill Charms™ identifies your food before, during, and after grilling so when dinner comes off the grill, simply look for your Grill Charm™, and everyone knows which one is theirs. With four collections for different purposes, they are the perfect gift for Father’s Day, birthdays, groomsmen, Valentine’s Day, other holidays, and housewarming or hostess gifts—you name it!

3. You started a Pink Collection of Grill Charms™, which we absolutely love! Tell us about these charms and where the proceeds go.

For a truly unique grilling and dining experience, The Pink Collection has six different charms so food can be personalized prior to grilling to distinguish spices and flavors, to avoid health, or allergy concerns or for any reason you can dream up! There is a hot new party trend with this collection, and that is the “Season Your Own” cook-out. This is where the host provides the meat, the guests pick their Grill Charm™, then choose from a variety of sauces or rubs that the host has set out. Guests flavor their meat any way they wish and nobody, including the grill master, needs to know or care how it’s seasoned.


The Pink Collection

The Pink Collection of Grill Charms™

When the food is served off the grill, folks simply look for their Grill Charm™. With people watching every penny, it’s more important than ever that when they splurge on buying that filet, or carefully choose that chicken breast to spend their hard-earned money on, that it’s cooked and seasoned exactly the way they want it.  And with The Pink Collection, I donate 10% of the proceeds to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, as well as my local Komen Foundation.

This collection also helps with health or allergy issues. With Grill Charms™, if someone has a specific health or dietary need (such as needing a no-sodium, low-sugar, or possibly a gluten-free spice alternative), Grill Charms™ makes it easy for people to identify their food before, during, and after grilling, without any confusion or effort on the part of the grill master.

About Leslie Haywood and Grill Charms™:

Leslie Haywood is founder and President of Charmed Life Products, LLC, and inventor of Grill Charms™. Leslie was a stay-at-home mom when a very spicy light bulb moment thrust her into the entrepreneurial ring. During the start up phase of her company, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, but still managed to launch her product on store shelves within 18 months and is now sold in over 400 stores internationally. She has been featured numerous times on CNBC, various local and regional news programs, as well as ABC’s prime time reality TV show Shark Tank seasons I and II. Her story and product have publicized in such magazines as Everyday with Rachael Ray, Parenting magazine, Health magazine, Inventors Digest, and was also featured on The Today Show. All the while she is mindful of “the cause,” whether it’s giving back through “The Pink Collection” of her gift and grilling accessory Grill Charms™, or her work as Honorary Chair for The Race for the Cure .

Leslie’s Special Offer:

***Put “natural” in the coupon code of for 10% off!***