Bras and Panties with a Purpose
I had the pleasure of hanging with Dana donofree at Project Entrepreneur in the Spring and was inspired by her story. She set out to create bras and panties with a purpose. You will understand once you read a bit further.
BTW- I love my Jennifer Boy Short!
1.Tell us about your company? AnaOno was launched after my own battle with breast cancer. I was left with a body I didn't know how to dress, and wanted something beautiful to wear following my mastectomy. I took my design background and fashion career and made it happen. We now offer intimates for women at all phases of their life, if it's two breasts, one breast, or no breasts. We encourage each other to feel beautiful, confident and empowered.
2.What/who inspired you to start your company? I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 27. It was not only body altering, but also life altering. It came very apparent to me that this was a world built for those that are much much older than I was, and were not focused upon the differences in lifestyle from being a young, engaged, professional, compared to being a grandma. I wanted to change that. Cancer took a lot away from me, it wasn't going to take my identity and femininity as well.
3.Tell us a story/incident that happened while starting or running your company that may have made you feel defeated. Now tell us how you overcame that. I launched a collection that had products that no one was talking about, or even carrying, bras for women with breast reconstruction. I thought this was it. I would build it and they would come. It doesn't work that way. Some of my customers were finding me, many were not. I thought the press would be interested in talking about it, it was new, it was fresh, it was needed. I realized, it wasn't just the product that was an issue, I was up against some big competition. I realized the WORLD didn't truly understand the results of breast cancer, and breast reconstruction. It is NOT a boob job. So as a tiny little start-up, not only did I have to market my new product line, I had to educate why women with breast cancer need alternative bra options. So we took this message to the New York Fashion Week runway in February of this year, and showed the world, exactly, what breast cancer looks like in our show with #Cancerland called #Exposed.
4.Have you had any unique challenges as a woman in business? Pitching a business, for women, by women, for a personal and intimate situation that women deal with, before and after cancer, is a tough pitch in a room full of mid-aged men. It doesn't just require you talking about the business, but it requires you to explain the problem, something that can be uncomfortable and really detailed. I had to find ways to explain why women deserve to feel beautiful, feel like themselves, and feel human after something as devastating as breast cancer. It really does prove the divide between men & women.
5. Why are you an entrepreneur? It has always been my dream. No joke. Since I can remember, I wanted my own fashion line. I worked hard to get there, studying at Savannah College of Art & Design, and then heading to NYC to work for top designers. I just never thought that cancer would give me that opportunity.
6. What is your biggest fear with your company and how do you overcome it? That I will let my fellow sisters & community down. I don't ever make a move without thinking of the woman on the other side about to receive her first package before her mastectomy. It is a scary time. I have been there, I have done that. So many challenges are faced in that short moment of time, before surgery & before treatment, if I were to let them down, even one customer, I would be devastated. We are all working very hard to provide solutions to as many women as we can, from women living their lives with no breasts, to women that have bad scarring and pain sensitivities, to expanding our size offering, and even swimwear! We are tiny, and we have a lot of ground to cover, but our community and support keeps me going every day to do just that!
7.What are your goals with the company? To never hear of a woman that has been diagnosed who is fearful about her mind, body or spirit. We want to provide support for all these pieces of her. I felt beat up, and spit out. I didn't know what to do with my life or my body. We want to be that beacon for women no matter what the challenge is in front of her. And then, hopefully in my lifetime I get to close the doors, and say thank you, because we have a cure or treatments for cancer that don't have to cause an amputation of an important piece of our sexuality and of our bodies.
On Friday we will be giving away a set of the Jennifer Boy Short panties along with our cozy grey crew neck sweatshirt. These panties are not only comfortable but they are sexy!