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Caldwell Chats: AnaOno

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AnaOno

 

AnaOno

Tune into another episode of Caldwell Chats as Trademark Attorney, Julie Tolek, and the Director of Marketing and Creative Services, Eyob Yohannes, discuss with Dana Donofree, Founder and CEO of AnaOno, entrepreneurship and branding related breast cancer and survivorship.

Caldwell Chats

Caldwell Chats is a fireside chat series centered around emerging trends and hot topics in innovation. We have the inside scoop and want to share it. Working alongside pioneering business leaders and cutting-edge machinery and methods, our team members are witness to the next generation of tech shaping the future. We regularly invite top executives from a variety of industries to pick their brain on the latest innovations and IP matters. Our mission is to inform, guide and inspire innovators through this series.

Transcript

Eyob: Hello and welcome to another addition of Caldwell Chats as series where we like to highlight new and exciting innovations and spiritual- inspirational and spiritual, sometimes, innovators and of course intellectual property. My name is Eyob Yohannes and I am the Director of Marketing in Creative Services here at Caldwell Intellectual Property Law and let’s get into this. So today, we have a couple of special guest: we have our very own Julie Tolek, Trademark Attorney. Hi, Julie!

 

Julie: Hi!

 

Eyob: And we have a very awesome and specia,l Dana Donofree,. from AnoOno. Hi Dana!

 

Dana: Hey guys, nice to be here!

 

Eyob: Nice to have you!

 

Everyone: *Laughs*

 

Eyob: And we’re going to be talking about some innovations around breast cancer, in honor of breast cancer awareness month, and and I’ve just been looking on your website and it’s amazing your brand and your products that you’ve made. And so let’s get into it: what is AnoOno? And what prompted you to start AnoOno?

 

Dana: Well, AnoOno is intimates designed differently for those that have undergone breast surgery often related to a cancer diagnosis. And as the needs change as your body undergoes many many different difficult changes throughout the process we really want to be there every step of the way. And I created AnoOno nearly 10 years ago after I was diagnosed with breast cancer in my late 20’s and I had also been a fashion designer in my entire life so, the unfortunate circumstances of receiving a cancer diagnosis that are very young age but also having this ability to use my talents and my skills and effort to support and provide something beautiful and comfortable for those that I share a similarity with when you lived in experience with, was really why I created AnoOno, just to empower and support other breast cancer patients and survivors and you know let them know that even though their bodies are different now, and they might be different, their intimates don’t have to be. So that was the premise of the idea and we’ve been in business for 7 1/2 years. We’ve shipped bras around the world and I’m very fortunate that I get to serve my community in such a beautiful way.

 

Eyob: Oh wow that’s really great. You mentioned that you were in fashion design before hand and tell us a little bit more about your experience – your background experience in fashion design?

 

Dana: I’ve really been a fashion designer my entire life. I can say that because I started making my clothing and jewelry when I was eight years old, my mom has my embarrassing sketchbooks to prove it. But no it’s something that’s always run through my blood and I want to Savannah College of market design. I graduated there in the early 2000s and put myself in a plane to New York City because I was the only place for fashion happening in my mind. And had an incredible career I dressed amazing celebrities like Beyoncé and Ellen and Oprah and Rihanna and did some really amazing opportunities and I did leave my career as a VP of Product Development for children’s accessories company, located in Denver, Colorado. I just love it you know I didn’t know how else to apply my skills or my talents when I got diagnosed and making something which is so natural and organic for me it just sort of flowed out of me and I am really fortunate that I get to do what I love every single day of my life.

 

Julie: Eyob’s had some experience in fashion t0o, I can see his eye kind of light up when you started talking about who you’ve worked with – Eyob – reveal your secrets.

 

Eyob: Yeah, I used to work with those people as well.

 

Dana: We would’ve been best friends then back in the day.

 

Eyob: With a lot of the same clients that you mentioned.

 

Dana: Awesome

 

Eyob: So will have to connect later on about that.

 

Dana: War stories.

 

Eyob: Yes, war stories. Stories of love, I like to call them.

 

Dana: There you go, there you go, also those.

 

Eyob: Yes, sleepless nights I’m sure.

 

Dana: Many.

 

Eyob: Also do you have any- first off do you think you would’ve started AnoOno if you didn’t have a technical fashion background and experience that you had?

 

Dana: Well this is kind of a funny question for me because I often say that fashion designers don’t going into design for other fashion designers. We’re sort of made and built to want to share with the world what we have to give, just like any artist, really. A painter wouldn’t paint somebody else’s paintings, so my dream was to always have my own fashion line, I just was never really quite sure where or what that was going to be. And I was just absorbing as much as I could absorb at every single because I knew eventually I wanted my own business and I want to be out there with my own fashion line- I just never really thought that cancer would be the thing that would give me that gift.

 

Julie: Oh my god, I’m gonna cry.

 

Eyob: A nice silver lining for sure. And so did you have any entrepreneurial experience before AnoOno?

 

Dana: Not technically. A lot of the companies that I worked for were entrepreneurial driven because they were all designer driven companies. So I do feel like I had exposure to, “What does it mean to start your own fashion line?”. I was never really into the big conglomerate side of fashion; I really had opportunity to hone on those skills in all reality I have been an entrepreneur not long after- I sort of mentioned making the clothes at eight- I have a childhood friend like many of us do that remember almost every single embarrassing thing that you’ve ever ever done. And she was reminding me about the days I used to walk up and down the hallway at school, selling everybody my jewelry or my patch pets and new bag I had made. So I would always wear these things and everybody would say “Where did you get it?”, I said “I made it” you know, “Give me 10 bucks – you can have it”. So I was always hustling. It was kind of just threw my blood and I never really thought about it but you know being a little entrepreneur making my own money as a kid. It never dawned on me that was running my own little, small business at that time. And it’s kind of cool to look back at that and remember, sometimes you feel you are what you are and what I’m doing today feels so natural – it feels like a part of me.

 

Eyob: Mhm, and I must say with my previous experiences in fashion – fashion general – I think you wear many hats. And so, it totally makes sense to me that we’re sales, we’re marketing, we’re everything all at once. So I definitely agree with you on that.

 

Dana: For sure.

 

Eyob: And also tell us a little bit about your experience as an entrepreneur and being a woman in the start-up space. And what have been some of your great obstacles as a woman in the start up space?

 

Dana: Well, a whole other series and talk on this topic for sure, it could go on forever. But you know it’s interesting because I’ve been at this for 10 years now, and I have seen an evolution, but not one that’s fast enough. To be building this business over the last decade and knowing what I was up against when I first started but also feeling what we’re up against now – it has definitely changed. But you know very early on it was really interesting because I knew I had this idea and I knew the world needed to have these products and I knew that the women that I served needed these products, but I would reach out to people that I knew that were entrepreneurs themselves and had their own business, and most of the time those were men. Because I wasn’t surrounded by a lot of female leaders and a lot of female entrepreneurs, and every time I would tell them I had a business idea or what I was thinking about they would all say to me, “Well that sounds a bit like a lifestyle business”. And I was always a bit confused and taken back by it because I didn’t quite know what that meant when I first kicked it off. But it was just this automatic reply to say like, “Oh it kind of sounds like you’re going to have a hobby” is what they were implying in a lot of ways. And as I learned, a lifestyle business is still a $100 million business – I still define that as pretty super successful. I mean if it’s a $50 million business or if it’s a $200 million business – it was just always a little bit with a little bit of a under edge, right, a little bit of an underbelly there “Oh you can try but you probably won’t really do it”. And there was a lot of pushback very early on and I think too because a lot of my mentors were male and so not only was I conversating as a female, I was also a conversating about female oriented health issues, which they also did not understand.

 

So when I would say I’m making bras for people with breast cancer and they would say, “Well, help, me understand, is it custom?”. I’m like “No, it’s not custom”. “Why does somebody that doesn’t have any breasts want a bra?” And then I would have to think to myself, “How am I supposed to explain to this male that women want to feel beautiful and empowered and strong in their own bodies in their own hearts in their own skin?”

 

And I was realizing I was attached to all of these issues that females deal with every single day but pitching them to men – and there’s a reason why we’ve been pushed so far behind for so long because you don’t know what you don’t know – so not every male wears a bra, some do – they know how it feels for those that don’t I have no concept or idea to say like:

 

“Oh Like a bra helps me feel beautiful”

“A bra helps me feel feminine”

“A bra helps me feel sexy”

 

So we say AnoOno, “We’re so much more than a bra” because it’s about that emotional physical attachment to and what we are and that expression of being ourselves and celebrating ourselves no matter how and what form that comes in. And these conversations are very complicated especially when somebody on the other side doesn’t really understand what you’re doing. And that was a lot of pressure on a small business especially a female founded female oriented women’s health driven business in 2010.

 

Eyob: Wow 2010- and how are you able to market it to those customers or those you know, the male mentors and to men in general? How has that process been for you and where have you had to adapt and where have you had to problem solve or trouble shoot?

 

Dana: I definitely feel like I have been adapting and evolving all the way through. It was very jarring at first to realize how many things I needed to explain. Especially to a group full of male investors because I have been in those rooms with it has not been another single female in the room as I’m talking found some pretty aggressive and emotional topics. I mean you I know our customers get their breasts amputated from their bodies that’s heavy, right? There’s a lot of information though and I realized as I’ve tried tactics tactics to associate it to their work, wives, or their mothers, or their daughters. Just so they have some point of reference. I’ve had very interesting questions inside investor rooms: I’ve been I’ve been asked if I’m married, I’m pretty sure is never ever question is never ever a question asked to a male entrepreneur in a room full of investors. I would be shocked if a male has ever been asked if he was married or if he has kids for that matter. It doesn’t typically matter when the entrepreneur’s a male but for female‘s that is questions that investors want to know and I think that’s showing a lot of our social imbalance in so many ways. And I’ve gone as far as showing very jarring photos of, you know, women that have no breasts at all – scars and all- just so they can understand what it looks like with the body looks like after breast cancer. And that’s been also something that AnoOno has taken on, as an educational moment, it’s because very early on I’ve gotten asked more often “Why did women with breast cancer need bras?” And I realize we weren’t talking about breast cancer correctly.

People didn’t realize that body parts were being amputated in order to save somebody’s life and I knew that we needed to share that because if we didn’t actually know it was happening because of breast cancer we couldn’t actually solve the problems that nearly 4,000,000 people face in the United States and that’s just in the US, so there’s a lot of patience and survivors out there that aren’t getting served because we don’t talk about the disease correctly.

Eyob: And I really appreciate your fresh, the gander, and fresh perspective of, it’s really the branding and bringing the full story and the full picture to your product. So I guess it goes more into- I have more to follow up question related to branding- What is your brand’s story? And to bring in the the full story of what actually happens – the nitty-gritty – you made a decision. When did you make that decision and how have you evolved and grown your brand?

 

Dana: Well I like to call it ‘boob inclusive’. So if you have two boobs, one boob, no boobs, or new boobs we are here to support you. And it’s just really important for us because you know there are so many stories especially now and we were a trailblazer in this category as well every model that is featured on our website is your average every day person. They’ve been afflicted by the disease, they represent the surgery of which we present. So If there is a bra that works for somebody who is flat, which means they’ve had completely both of their breasts removed and have not opted for a reconstruction or don’t want to wear breast forms to mimic that shape of a breast underneath a blouse or underneath a dress or underneath their clothing, they can still live a full beautiful and powerful life with something that fits their body. And that was really important to me because when I launched, and I was looking for a bra after my own breast cancer surgeries, I kept seeing all of these ads and really healthy, beautiful models that had natural cleavage and had natural breasts and I felt like I was constantly being slapped in the face and being told I was broken because that’s not the body that I had.

 

And I thought that was very jarring that somebody could sell me something on a model that has what I no longer have. And I said out to change that story very early on and it really, truly has been groundbreaking for the community for the commerce for fashion and just as we talk about size inclusivity just as we talk about different shades of nude and what does that look like we have to talk about boob inclusivity because not every human has two breasts and that’s my reality. And I just really love that that has been built into the DNA of who and what we are since the very early beginnings. And cancer doesn’t discriminate either, it doesn’t matter your age your culture your society where you’re from how much money you do or don’t have, cancer affects all of us do you know, one and eight women diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime one and three of those women will metastasize and lose their life to breast cancer and these are very jarring statistics that have not changed for decades. And we want to make sure that we are unearthing a lot of this conversation and talking about these tough issues because it’s not just about what you wear or how you express yourself, and that’s why we say were more than a bra, because it really is about your own identity femininity, sexuality all of these things are wrapped up into one simple piece of your life that was taken away from you because of your cancer diagnosis – I just want to give that opportunity back to that person to say “You are so beautiful, you are just as strong as you were before your cancer, you can express yourself in anyway that you see fit” and give them the tools in the opportunities do you so rather than going into a lingerie store and leaving the store in tears because they didn’t have any bras because you only had one breast.

 

Eyob: Right and I love that idea of boob inclusivity I think it’s actually absolutely genius and in the same line of branding: why did you feel it was important to file for a trademark for your business name? And how was that process for you?

 

Dana: you know it’s so funny I love the story because I often tell early-stage entrepreneurs the hardest thing that you will ever do when you start your business is name your business. The entire world owns – anytime you think you’re being original and you’re starting a brand name – chances are somebody else already owns it. The way I came to AnoOno ,so AnoOno is a version of my name, Dana Donofree, without the double D’s.

 

Everyone: *Laughs*

 

Julie: Wow.

 

Dana: Yup, yup.

 

Eyob: That’s really genius.

 

Dana: You always know how funny somebody is by how soon that they laugh after that joke, but in all reality you know it’s true, because I had to make up a word in order to get a trademark and I had been through a dozen different brand names and so when I came up with AnoOno it was really fantastic. And I have to to say, 10 years ago we came up with this name and I couldn’t trade market because there was a competitive lingerie business just called Ono, O-n-o, and we’ve been waiting and waiting and I am proud to say that I have officially now I’m a proud owner of my name, AnaOno, through the trademark channels that’s how long it took us. We had a strategy and we trademarked other pieces of our slogan, we also, our slogan is: ‘Never Alone’, which is really our community aspect of our business. We have a Trademark called ‘foobs’ which stands for fake boobs, and that’s our breast- formed inserts that go into our bras, and as we were able to build these stories, they strengthened our story to actually be able to present the AnaOno brand name and win the trademark, which was much harder than I thought for making up a word, I have to tell you. 

 

Eyob: And Julie would you like to put some two cents in about this?

 

Julie: Yeah, I have questions and I wanna jump in here. So I have notes because I wanted for remember some other things you said before, we talked about trademarks too. But you mentioned, that whether you have one boob, two boobs, no boobs, or new boobs, I think I covered them all-

 

Dana: Nailed it.

 

Julie: I am very candid about my experience too, and I have been through each of those phases, actually at some point in this whole – the word journey is so over-used – I feel like experience. It’s this evolution, I guess, at some point from where you started and where you ended to hear you phrase it like that in relation to this love project that has turned in this business that you’ve created is – it really resonates with me and it’s funny because, Eyob, you kind of slipped and said “spiritual” at the beginning of this this, but honestly, so much of this is a spiritual process, just survivorship and getting through it in general. I think there’s a touch of spirituality in everything and I definitely have goosebumps hearing you share these things about your own experience with the disease and how you channeled that into what you’re doing today and silver-lining. Had you not had cancer, maybe you wouldn’t be doing and serving how you are today – it’s mind blowing sometimes.to see that perspective. And I also thought of something else when you mentioned companies were marketing bras to you – to a person who didn’t have those things anymore, who couldn’t relate – and I remember there’s a – and I’m not going to say their name because it’s a big, famous company – but there’s an athleisure company that was promoting their new sports bra during October. And my inbox was full of like “Oh, our new sports bra, bla bla bla”, and it was in the middle of my active treatment and I wrote to them and I was like “This is ridiculous, like you guys should have some more common sense than to do this. No brand self-awareness or anything.” And they wrote back and apologized but of course the campaign continued throughout the month. I have had that experience, too, and I’m sure that every person that wears a bra that has gone though this feels those same things. So, I appreciate that you bring that to light, as well, instead of people like me emailing behind the scenes and complaining.

 

So to trademarks now, ‘foobs’, I didn’t know ‘foobs’ was your trademark because so many people in this community use the word foobs and they write it, they use it on their socials. Obviously, the point of gaining that trademark protection is to protect the name, but because ‘foobs’, for you and for your business, is so intertwined in the love and spirituality and connection you have to offering this product to this community,

 

Do you think it has changed how you feel about this protection? 

Do you get annoyed when people use it? 

Do you ever think, “The whole point was to protect it and now it’s everywhere”?

Is it becoming diluted, is it becoming generic?

What do you think of all that?

 

Dana: Well, you know, it’s interesting, I’ve also been in this space for a long time so when it comes to the trademark of words and us being able to use something like ‘foobs’ or ‘Never Alone’, it is different when you are an impact driven, socially responsible, business as well. Because for me, when I see the community use ‘foobs’ or even be able to use ‘Never Alone’ in their story-telling, it feels like awareness to me. It feels like an opportunity, where we sort of own a brandable moment but the community still owns those words. And the community can still use those words. And for me, the protection as a business owner is if one of my major competitors wanted to go and use that word in their commerce – because I will tell you, when you are a trail blazer – you are constantly under pressure to trail blaze. Because what happens is you create ideas, you start saying things, an effort that people change communication, or it impact them in some way. But then they begin to adapt it as if it is their own, native language. So you’re constantly under pressure to create the next movement, to push forward the next conversation, to start the next topical line, whatever that is. And that’s been my history over and over and over again and I actually see it as a positive, because I want the conversation to change, I want us to be able to lean into some of these topics. So, boob inclusion, I would love to see some major companies say, “We are now boob inclusive because, guess what? We have AnaOno and AnaOno’s been doing this since the beginning.”. And I want them to be able to come in an have this conversation with me and not because of me or on the side of me. But to be able to be a part of the conversation, so I am very collaborative in that phase, where, to me it’s not about ownership and sending out cease and desist letters although, if one of my competitions did, trust me, that letter would be in the mail. But in terms of a community aspect, I love to see the usage of these words and this verbiage shared in the community because I really feel like those are the strings that tie us all together and these are the opportunities where we all share in those moments and we share those stories and it gives me pride in a lot of ways. So when we start saying, I have to be creative enough to find the next thing, is where I find the pressure.

 

Julie: Yeah, it’s so interesting, so you’re protecting it for the community. Like you’ve trademarked it for the community, essentially, so they know that this word – we know, I say they, it’s my community too – this word is part of our lives and it’s for us to use. That’s really cool, I don’t know that I’ve ever thought about a trademark that way, I guess. But, I mean, it makes sense, it makes absolute sense in this case, too. 

 

Personal Branding. I don’t know that I have a specific question, as I’m digesting this in my head, because clearly, you’re personal brand and your experiences have channeled into how you brand AnaOno. And as somebody who is also a proponent of personal branding, even prior to breast cancer, I have spoken at conferences and taught lawyers how to channel their personal branding into their own branding, whether they have a solo practice, or a a larger practice, and how part of the brand is the interface and the interaction with people. You’re brand is directly impacting their community, so this might be a hard question to answer if you didn’t know you would end up at this point, but what I want to ask is did you ever envision that branding and the brand connection would involve so much of you and your experience, if you had been doing something else? Maybe it’s not a direct answer, but I guess, tell me about how that feels for you to do that.

 

Is it natural?

Did you have to think about it? I mean, it sounds like it comes very natural to you.

 

Dana: Well, listen, 100%. I totally know what you’re asking and why, and there’s two sides of this coin. One is at the end of the day, I am a fashion designer and like we all are, our brands are named after us: Donna Karan, Diane Von Furstenberg, Channel, Versace. That list goes on and on and on so there is just a part of us that Share in our brand when we share it with the world and that’s very natural to me as a fashion designer. But I will say, I was very, very cognizant of it when I created AnoOno and that was for two purposes: one, I was diagnosed in 2010 and as I was meeting more and more patients, I was realizing how many people were losing their jobs when they were getting diagnosed with cancer. And that is a very real thing; people lose their jobs, they get fired. And their sent out into the world without any money or insurance benefits and all of these things that are required as a cancer patient to get through your treatment and to have the best opportunity to live. And I saw that unfolding around me and that was one scare was that If I created AnaOno, and I attached my name, Dana Donofree, to the brand and the brand failed and this initiative failed, I was never going to get hired in the fashion industry again because I was going to be seen as weak or broken or incapable because now I’m sick. And it really took a long time for me to sit with that to say, “Am I okay with attaching myself so closely to my brand?” Because if things go south, it could reshape my entire life, right? Not just a little fragment of my life but my entire life, and I’m very very thankful that, fast forward to 2021, sadly and unfortunately we still know that cancer patients lose their jobs quite often – that hasn’t really, totally been secured – but at least it’s gotten better with no pre-existing conditions – some of these things have been removed over the last decade – which were still very present when I was diagnosed. So there was a really strong reality to me to say I’m stepping out not just as a brand but as a person and how is the going to affect my whole life in that scale and I had to weigh that. And there were times where that feeling in my stomach said ”Maybe don’t do it.” Right? Because I was too afraid of what that was going to do to my growing career and my name sake in the industry. And I’m glad I did, but there is real risk in some of that, and for AnaOno to be so ingrained in my own story, I always looked at AnaOno as being my alter ego. Somebody that I couldn’t be as I was going through my cancer treatment and my survivorship in my own right. And so, the brand has ridden the highs and the lows with me – when I’ve been angry, the brand has been angry. When I’ve been sad, the brand has been sad. When I’ve been hopeful, the brand has been hopeful. And there is this rollercoaster, and I’m probably the only one who sees it because I’ve obviously been creating it all this times, but there is that reality too that it is so ingrained in who I am and also what I’m experiencing in real time as a patient and as a survivor, now being a survivor for 11.5 years, I have my own energy that’s been preserved but really everything I’ve done has been out in the world. Even, at one point in time, my husband has said to me, he goes, “Are you going to stop sharing with the world about our sex life?”. And I told him, I said, “I can’t because somebody has got to talk about this. Somebody has got to talk about sexuality and intimacy.”. And this is the whole reason why I created AnoOno was because I did not feel good in my own skin, I could not even look at myself in the mirror. And all I wanted was something beautiful to adorn the scars and the mutilation that my body had been through, and that’s a part of that story, that’s a part of that brand’s story. And I said, “I can’t stop talking about it until somebody else starts.” And now, we’re finally getting to the point where sexuality and intimacy is a part of the conversation and I feel like that’s great- we’ve healed one part but we still have light years to go – but at least the conversation is starting. And sometimes that repetition and that story telling is a huge part of being able to make a movement and make a change in our world.

 

Eyob: And Dana, I have a question for you: So what have you learned from your battle with breast cancer and survivorship that translates into being a successful business owner?

 

Dana: Well, I know how to fight. I know how to not give up. In a lot of ways, I say in some ways, cancer gave me a gift to also be an entrepreneur, because a lot of fear in my life has been removed. The biggest thing that most of us fear is dying and that is a very real presence in my life, every single day. So I know that I’ve got one shot at this life here on earth and I better make the best of it. So it affects me as a human, but is also affects me as an entrepreneur because I really gage risk very differently. And listen, sometimes that’s good and sometimes that’s also bad. So, there’s a way to play in both of those worlds, but, I’m not afraid to take a chance. I’m not afraid to take a step forward. I’m not afraid to go and induce myself to somebody in the room. Because I know I might never meet that person again. And that gives me that energy, that drive, to just get out there, to do the best I can do while I get the opportunity to do it.

 

Eyob: And another follow up questions since we’re on entrepreneurial paths, and the companies path, for any start-up company, there’s always mistakes or looking back in hind-sight, wishing I didn’t do that or I could’ve done something differently, what are some of those for you and your company?

 

Dana: Well, I’m always learning, I have to sat that. I think that what we do is a very sensitive, intimate space, and I’m always learning – everyone has a different experience – and I do my best to listen to all of those experiences and all of those tragic moments and apply them to who and what we server every single day. But tactically speaking, and this is also what I’m learning to be a women-driven issues, is really valuing your world and understanding what you’re putting out into the world and being able to structure a good company. I think that building in your worth very early on in into your business is very important. I stepped away from my career in order to launch AnoOno, I put everything I had into it, I invested my own personal money to create the business and there’s a lot of learnings there, but I do wish I gave myself a pay check a little bit earlier, because you have to live. You do have to live your life; I walked away from an incredibly successful career to do this and I’m very lucky to say that I got to have that opportunity to do that. I do think that there’s personal growth that’s happening alongside the entrepreneurial story as well, I was 28 years old when I launched this business, so I was only exposed to as much as I could’ve been exposed to, and now, I finally get a paycheck, small but mighty. I think that that’s important, that entrepreneurs, especially female entrepreneurs, need to respect that part of themselves and now what your worth is a find a way to carve that out.

 

Eyob: I guess a last and follow up question would be, what advice would you give to female entrepreneurs, but also to breast cancer survivors, and even those breast cancer survivors that maybe thinking of being entrepreneurs themselves?

 

Dana: Well for entrepreneurs specifically, I really encourage that you are incredibly passionate about what it is that you’re doing. I think that, in a lot of the rough moments, that passion is what keeps you going. I know that we are making the world a better place, we’ve been in business one bra at a time, and that’s my goal is to help improve the life of somebody else even if its just one person a day, I’m happy, I’ve done my job. I’m thankful that it’s hundreds and thousands, but I think that there’s a lot of tough moments in start up and small business running, and entrepreneurship, especially going through this last years and a half with COVID. You’re like on the shaking ship 100% of the time and the only thing that keeps your head above water is that you love what you do and love those that you support and for breast cancer patients out there and survivors I just encourage to take it one day at a time. This world is very overwhelming, life is very overwhelming, you never know what it’s going to throw at you and to think and dive into that dark place is such an easy thing to do. And it’s almost easier to take life in its bite sized chunks and live it as fully as you can live it every single minute because time is precious. I feel like I got the feeling of that very early on in my life and I hope I get to share that gift with others for a very long time.

 

Eyob: Thank you so much, Dana. Thank you so much, Julie

 

Julie: I have one more question, I know we’re like out of time, but this is what we knew would happen when we were talking about how long we could geek out – you know for hours. I kind of want to take it back to marketing and social and Instagram. And, you and I met on Instagram, and I wonder:

 

How active were you with social media before this?

Did you kind of resist it?

How has being on places like Instagram made an impact on how you reach our community?

 

Dana: In all fairness, when I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I was pretty sure I had just migrated from MySpace to Facebook so…

 

Julie: Fair enough.

 

Dana: Instagram developed while I was creating AnaOno so has Snapchat and Twitter and TikTok and Pinterest. And you know, the emergence of all of these platforms has been a part of my business in a lot of ways, but Instagram specifically, has been instrumental – as has Facebook in a lot of ways – because that’s really where the community started to find it’s special place and where you could really final a lean on each other before Instagram had launched. But it’s a beautiful place to share in stories and share in support for the community. I definitely look our Instagram and Facebook, and all of our social channels as evolving and changing the conversation. Because that’s where we get the strength in numbers, that’s where we can really pull the community together. And I’m thankful for platforms like that because like you said, Julie, some people would never meet – I never met – and the reason why the slogan is ‘Never Alone’ – I never met a woman under the age of 50 for the first two years I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I literally was living my life like I was the only 27 year old with breast cancer. Because there were none in communities, connections, support groups, no where. And I was up against the fact of “Do I want to have children, or can I have children?” Compared to my older counter parts who were like “I have grandchildren”. And it was really incredibly isolation, and for me, that’s what social media does, it can introduce small and marginalized communities to each other and give each other a voice and the community as a whole a voice and really draw attention to places that aren’t the main stream. Not everybody is a 65 year old white woman that gets diagnosed with breast cancer – that’s not our reality – but it’s what we see as we get marketed to. So for me, it’s been instrumental  to show the pictures of what is breast reconstruction looks like. Show what a mastectomy tattoo or somebody without nipples looks like. Or aesthetic flat closure, or a uniboob, or any of those these things – if you get the opportunity to show reality rather than let somebody else control our conversation, and that to me is the power of social media.

 

Eyob: So beautifully put. So inspiring and thank you so much, Dana. Thank you so much, Julie for both of you sharing your stories.

 

Dana: I just adore you, thank you.

 

Dana: Thank you, I appreciate you having me, I appreciate you sharing this, it’s such an important conversation for all of us to know, even if you haven’t been affected by breast cancer. Chances are someone’s in your life or somebody close to yo has and I fell like it’s really impactful lot have these conversations.

 

Eyob: It really is. And what’s your website? Just for anyone listening in.

 

Dana: Thank you for my shameless plug. The website is AnaOno and it’s AnaOno.com and you can follow us on any social media outlet at AnaOnointimates.

 

Eyob: And we’ll be sure to add that to all of our socials and thank you so much, Dana, yet again, and Julie, as well thank you. And with that, over and out – until next time. Bye!

 

Dana: Thank you both!

 

Julie: Thank you!

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