Kathy Ruiz-Carter, Lauren Connelly and Jaclyn Lanthier met online looking for a support group for people diagnosed with a rare, incurable progressive inflammatory skin condition called Lichen Sclerosus. Recognizing there was a lapse in support and awareness of Lichen Sclerosus, their goals evolved to create a community of supporters and medical professionals, and to raise awareness of the condition. With the help of the YWCA’s Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and Empowerment Collaborative, they launched Lichen Sclerosus Support Network (LSSN). Their online support group flourished into a functioning organization, providing the opportunity for historically underserved groups access to evidence-based healthcare information and resources.
Throughout their journey with the YWCA, LSSN participated in workshops and counseling sessions where they received assistance reviewing marketing materials, developing a business plan, and receiving funding. Kathy Ruiz-Carter, Co-founder and Executive Director of LSSN commented on their experience, “The SBDC was not only instrumental in encouraging and supporting us in starting our nonprofit, but they have not stopped supporting us. They are interested in our next steps, how we will grow, helping us establish our board, introducing us to GrowthWheel, etc. We are glad to know we have someone we can reach out to with our business questions, and we are grateful we were told of the amazing services they provide.“
Among their early successes, LSSN formed a partnership with SweetSpot Labs for World Lichen Sclerosus Day on January 17, 2022; they received 100% of SweetSpot Labs’ online sales revenue that day. In May 2022, LSSN successfully hosted their first Holistic Healing Summit, boasting over 18 speakers, 33 individual interactive sessions, and over 700 attendees from all over the world.
YWCA Metropolitan Chicago congratulates LSSN on the dedication, passion, and support they have brought to their community through education and opportunities to heal. If you would like to learn more about LSSN or make a tax-deductible donation, please click here.
If you would like to learn more about how the YWCA’s SBDC can help your small business, please click here.