The Chronic Boss Collective, founded by Lilly Stairs, is a groundbreaking membership designed to help businesswomen with chronic conditions dream big in their careers while prioritizing their health without tradeoffs. The membership offers many benefits such as networking opportunities, webinars, a private Facebook group, monthly meetups, wellness events, and more!
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We talked to Lilly about creating her business and how she has built her career around supporting and empowering other female entrepreneurs:
How did your business get started?
This is a concept that has been in my heart for a long time. Throughout my career, I’ve met remarkable women whose lives have been turned upside down by a chronic condition. They choose to keep going and to give back. They choose ambition in the face of adversity. Every time I encountered a new woman who fits this profile, I couldn’t help but wonder how powerful it would be to get them in a network together.
Before I launched the Collective, I started and funded the Chronic Boss Scholarship. It seeks to award women with chronic conditions who have preserved and succeeded. The scholarship is geared towards women who have an entrepreneurial spirit. Whether that is in launching an initiative, a startup, a blog, starting a club, organizing a fundraiser, or other endeavor. To date, 20 young women have been awarded including published authors, entrepreneurs, inventors, and young philanthropists who have started nonprofits (while in high school!). In just two years, we’ve had over 1,000 applicants. I personally review every application and I am awestruck by these young women changing our world.
Between my colleagues changing our world presently, to the Chronic Boss scholarship recipients who will shape our future, I knew I had to start this service to the millions of women who deserve a space that honors their health and their careers. There’s an undeniable magic to these women living with chronic conditions who choose ambition. By harnessing that collective power, the Chronic Boss Collective is poised to take off like a rocket ship. We will be unstoppable.
What makes your business stand out?
We are the FIRST and ONLY professional membership for women living with chronic conditions. Support groups exist. Women’s networking groups exist. But nothing like the Collective has ever hit the market.
When I was just getting Chronic Boss Collective off the ground, people didn’t fully grasp the concept. They assumed the Collective was just another support group. Novel ideas are often misunderstood.
I’ve been a go-getter my whole life. My ambition never left me when I was diagnosed with my chronic conditions. From the moment I was in the hospital bed with bleeding ulcers in my small intestine from Crohn’s disease and total body psoriatic arthritis, I pulled out my laptop and started brainstorming what I could do to raise awareness about autoimmune diseases. Because that is who I am.
Chronic conditions are often labeled as something that makes you weak. I refuse to accept that narrative. My chronic conditions have certainly shaped who I am as a person today. They have not made me weak – they have made me strong, resilient, and fueled my drive to create change.
Chronic Boss Collective celebrates the women who have leaned into the narrative that they can be strong and ambitious while living with a chronic condition.
How did you get the background and skills necessary to run this business?:
Being diagnosed at the dawn of my career when I was just 19 years old allowed me to pour my advocate’s heart directly into the healthcare industry. I spent a decade working across the healthcare ecosystem from supporting biotech and industry giants in agency, to serving as an early employee at innovative health tech startups. Along the way, I became the youngest (ever) board member recruited to the Autoimmune Association and during my eight-year tenure with the organization have served as Interim CEO and now Board Chair.
In 2020 I founded Patient Authentic, a boutique consultancy that builds events and experiences to empower and educate patient advocates. The business has grown leaps and bounds year over year.
I am a successful entrepreneur with a servant’s heart. My business expertise paired with my personal commitment to the mission positions me to build, grow, and scale the Chronic Boss Collective in the hope that I can help as many women as possible level up in their health and careers.
Who are your members?
Ambitious career women starting their own businesses, climbing the corporate ladder, facilitating change in their community and fighting like hell to make it happen while living with a chronic condition.
When folks hear the term “chronic condition” they often think of a condition that manifests physically. Mental health conditions are chronic conditions. ADHD is a chronic condition. These are all diagnoses that people carry with them every day and impact how they show up in their career. The Chronic Boss Collective welcomes women living with all types of chronic conditions!
When you’re not running your business, what are you doing?
Outside of running my businesses, you can find me spending time with family and friends, trying the newest restaurant in the city, indulging in a glass of Sancerre and an ice cream cone, hitting FORMAT fitness for a HIIT/Barre class, reading a psychological thriller, and spending as much time as I can by the water.
Paige Trendell is a high school intern at Sass Magazine. You can find her appreciating nature, crocheting, or reading a book. She hopes to go to college, major in journalism, and maybe even make it to the Washington Post!