No one really understands the needs and wants of cancer survivors quite like those who have gone through those experiences themselves. That’s why Dana Donofree founded AnaOno, a lingerie line made especially for breast cancer survivors.
Donofree was diagnosed right before her 28th birthday. Shortly after, she underwent surgery and chemotherapy. But after the experience, she was no longer able to find any bras that actually fit her. And she knew others who had the same issues. So she took action. Donofree told Mashable:
“None of the bras in department stores, specialty boutiques, websites — you name it — fit. I knew what was needed for women like me, so I started sketching and looking for stretchy, beautiful, non-irritating materials.”
The company offers a variety of options from lace bralettes to bamboo sports bras. Donofree had some idea of what styles and materials would work best from her own experience. But she also enlisted the help of some friends who had dealt with breast cancer in the past to give her input on the designs.
The whole process, according to Donofree, was emotional for all those involved. She said to Mashable.
“For me, when I put on my first design, it was life-changing. I cried not because it was my own work, but because it was the first time in years I felt like myself. I felt desirable and I felt whole.”
And that personal experience is what makes AnaOno unique. It would be possible for a company to do some research and focus groups to come up with materials and basic designs that might be comfortable for breast cancer survivors.
But Donofree personally knows why doing so is so important. She understands first-hand the needs of her potential customers. And it’s also likely that those customers appreciate and want to support her venture and her lingerie business, both because of their connection and because her product is so different from everything else available.