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Zimbabwean mum in the UK finds her business inspiration through illness

By Ade Onibada | The Voice UK |

UNITED KINGDOM – When Codilia Gapare was diagnosed with breast cancer in July 2014, it didn’t immediately dawn on her how dramatically her life would change and give her a new direction in life.

Codilia Gapare
Codilia Gapare

Originally from Zimbabwe, the mum-of-two who lives in Cheshire is now aiming to get the backing of Virgin group founder Richard Branson.

Unveiling her new product as part of Branson’s initiative to invest in new entrepreneurs, Pitch to Rich 2015, Gapare is hoping the ‘C-Lash’ will be a favourite amongst the voting public.

Gapare’s battle with breast cancer inspired the C-Lash, a false eyelash option for both women and men who have lost their eyelashes as a result of cancer treatment.

Speaking to The Voice, the 37-year-old said: “I think for a long time cancer had been a death sentence and people only worried about making it through the treatment. Now with the introduction of more effective drugs and people surviving, people want to fight the disease with dignity.”

The lightweight false eyelash is designed to be able to be fixed in place without the requirement of existing eyelashes to attach to.

Gapare also said her product was designed to be kinder to eyelashes in comparison to the mainstream synthetic option which has left some users with substantial damage after long-term use.

According to Gapare, there is a great need for something like C-Lash among those affected by cancer.

“They want understanding not pity, they don’t want to look around and think they’re dying” she said.

“Now, you can find a perfectly good wig, you can draw back on your eyebrows but if you haven’t got eyelashes anymore it shows.”

She recalled how she remained committed to leading a normal life, despite the challenges of breaking the news to her two sons.

“I never wanted people to know that I had cancer, I didn’t want the conversations about my hair loss to be opened with ‘have you got cancer?’. My way of fighting this was through lipstick and heels. I would put on my lipstick, heels and wig and go out and face the world. I found a lot of people feel the same way.”


The positive feedback she received gave her the confidence to pursue the product and although she entered the competition late, she remains committed to seeing it through.

“If I win this, it would be great and make my life so much easier but if I don’t then I’m prepared to take the rocky road and make it happen anyway. I intend to get this product on the market and in shops by the end of the year.”

Gapare has been treated with chemotherapy and radiotherapy and had her last treatment session at the beginning of this month (April 9). She now waits for the news from her doctor on whether it was successful.

She said she remains hopeful. “I’ve done everything I was told to do. I will be on medication for the next five years, so all I can do is keep my fingers crossed.”

As the promising entrepreneur anticipates a positive result, she also shared her enduring ambition to one day get her law degree.

After dropping out of school to help raise her family, the go-getting mum returned to education and secured herself a place at Manchester Metropolitan University in a bittersweet way.

“I found out I had cancer at 3pm on that very day and drove to my final interview at the university that evening to be told I had been accepted.”

The turn of events meant that she had to defer entry to focus on recovery.

“I would love to do it but having said that sometimes in life, the path that you are given you don’t always expect. I didn’t think I was going to get cancer at 37, I didn’t think I was going to come up with this business idea. So from now on I really want to take life as it comes and see where it takes me,” she concluded. The Voice (UK)