Small Business Spotlight: Cancer diagnosis helps Springfield woman find passion for her new business

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – After a skin cancer diagnosis a little over a year ago, one Springfield woman was inspired to pursue an idea that has now grown into a blossoming small business. 

Emily Laurie, a Mizzou and Drury alumni, received her masters degree in marketing and communications and always loved the idea of starting her own business. But when she graduated in 2008, she was afraid to go out on her own due to the economy’s instability at the time. 

Laurie worked at Hogan Land Title for eight years and eventually started a small freelance marketing business. While she clung onto both positions, the unexpected occurred. 

Laurie was diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer. Although doctors caught the disease before it progressed, Laurie says the diagnosis is what set her on the path to success.

“I went in and got a skin check and I had cancer in two spots,” she said. “Luckily they hadn’t gone to my lymph nodes yet. I had surgery and got everything removed. But it put everything into perspective.”

She told The Heartlander that the diagnosis was especially jarring to her and her family because she lost her brother to cancer when she was just 13 years old. Laurie was suddenly worried about the possibility of leaving her three children and husband without a mother and wife.

She began thinking about what she wanted to do with her life and felt that there was more to be done. 

Because of her love for jewelry, she drove to a local company for supplies and made her first bracelet. She was immediately hooked and started an Instagram account called “Onie and Sky”, which was named after her two daughters Sloane and Skylar. 

Soon, Laurie made a bracelet for her sister-in-law who was also battling cancer. Once her sister-in-law posted a picture of the jewelry online, Laurie said she had 100 orders the very next day and realized that she might have something big.

“That’s when I started looking at suppliers and getting my pricing figured out,” she said. “My family and I would just make these bracelets because there would be a hundred a week.”

At this point, she still ran her marketing agency along with working at Hogan Land Title. Laurie knew she wouldn’t be able to do all three jobs, so she had to make a quick decision. 

“When everyone was losing their jobs due to COVID, I was quitting mine,” Laurie said. “That’s what was so different to people. They were like ‘You’re crazy’. But sometimes you just have to go for it. I knew deep down what I was being called and led to do.”

With over 15,000 followers in a year’s span, Onie and Sky has grown so much that they are currently employing six other workers.

Customers are also welcome to pay a studio fee to come in and make their own jewelry, or they can utilize the business for events such as birthday parties.

Onie and Sky gives a portion of its proceeds back to melanoma research, along with 10 other non-profit organizations.

Currently, Laurie has shipped jewelry to customers as far as Australia, Afghanistan, New Zealand and Canada. Onie and Sky’s items can also be found in 70 boutiques across the United States. 

You can visit the company website at or their Instagram page @onieandsky. The store itself is located at 2740 South Glenstone, Suite 105 in Springfield, Missouri and store hours are 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Individuals can email any additional questions to

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