Bluestockings introduced a number of new brands for our Grand Opening this last weekend. One of these brands was Philadelphia-based AnaOno Intimates. Developed by a self-identified breast cancer survivor, AnaOno is geared to the breast cancer community. However, AnaOno has also found fans among the trans and small bust communities. (When your product is versatile, you have fans everywhere!)
AnaOno founder Dana Donofree is one of those business owners who lives her vision. She founded a business out of her own frustration as a customer. She features breast cancer patients and survivors in AnaOno brand imagery. A portion of AnaOno's profits are donated to breast cancer foundations. This is one of those up and coming lingerie brands that you really want to see succeed, because you know they’ll make a difference.
I asked Dana if she’d be willing to share about her story with the Bluestockings community. I for one am thrilled to have AnaOno as part of the Bluestockings family, bringing more representative underthings to a deeply underserved group of people.
Dana Donofree, founder and designer of AnaOno Intimates
Tell us about AnaOno Intimates. Who is AnaOno for?
AnaOno is a lifestyle and lingerie line for those who not only want to feel beautiful, confident, and proud in their own skin, but also wear something that fits well, looks good, and is comfortable.
I started AnaOno after my breast cancer diagnosis at the age of 27 resulted in a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction. I discovered that neither my own bras nor anything I found in stores fit me. It seemed to me the traditional bra market was focusing more on a certain ideal or style that almost always included underwire and padding, none of which worked on my body. I got discouraged. Finding a wire-free, beautiful bra that fit was very difficult. I took a look at what was available to me in terms of mastectomy bras and found little to no options of style or fashion that I would even dare put on my body. So I wanted to take this frustration and help others out there like me who were having a difficult time finding bras that fit them - not just the "traditional" body type.
When I started AnaOno, I was focusing on what I knew: women who had reconstruction and women who had breast cancer. But I quickly learned this was a bigger problem. There are so many of us dealing with issues regarding our different body types and shapes. We aren't "one size fits all." We don't all fit into the "norm." Just as not everyone is tall, thin and built like a fit model who can rock a little slip dress, not everyone can wear, or wants to wear, bras with wire, extreme lift, heavy padding or has completely even, perky breasts that fit specific band and cup sizes. Now I am getting emails from people who have had breast reductions or lifts, as well as augmentations and additional procedures. Or they just have a body that doesn't fit into traditional bras or is comfortable in the options available to them.
With AnaOno, we want people to know you can still be complete and whole and beautiful. We want them to know they are not alone in their struggle, and we're here for them.
The Kelly Lace Bra, available S-2X at Bluestockings Boutique
How did you get the idea for AnaOno? Do you have a lingerie background?
I was so frustrated wearing a sports bra or camisole under my work suit and under my beautiful black dress going on a date with my husband. I knew I needed to do something and find another solution. We really do get our confidence from the inside out, and when your underwear is the first part of stepping into the day to conquer the world, you don't want to slide on a hot pink sports bra. There is nothing wrong with sports bras, but they aren't the sexiest thing in the world. There are only so many confidence-boosting thoughts you can have as you continue to dress up over spandex and Lycra.
I woke up one night and said, why do I continue to complain about this? I'm a fashion designer by trade and have been in the fashion business long enough to be crazy enough to try to do this on my own. My background includes everything from high-end couture fashion to knit wear to mass market accessories, from design and spec all the way through to distribution and sales. I felt like I had the right tools and experience to take this leap. I just had to do it.
The Sandi Front Closure Bra, available S-XL at AnaOno Intimates
AnaOno meets a really unique need in the market. What has the response to the brand been like?
I could not be more thankful for the reaction the line has received up to this point. I get emails and messages from women that share with me their stories, their nightmares, their desires and their needs. They tell me how they love the bras because they feel good about themselves when they wear them, which is exactly what I set out to do when I created the line. This is what it is about for me. Maybe they want a comfortable sports bra, or a simple lace bralette or something more structured and feminine. Whatever it is, having comfort and fit does not mean sacrificing the sexy!
So when women share with me these journeys (and sometimes very detailed and graphic, but in a very very good way!), I can't help but smile and have a warm heart knowing that I made a small difference in that woman's life. THAT is what's most important. I was stripped of many things, including, for a while, my femininity. And even though I made the product, and knew what to expect, I was still shocked about how I felt like when I first put on an AnaOno product. I instantly felt better about myself. It may seem trivial that a bra and panties can make such an impact, but for me, if I feel sexy and strong under my clothes, I'm going to feel like that in anything I wear, and my confidence shines through.
The Jennifer Sports Bra, available XS-XL at Bluestockings Boutique
Where would you love to see AnaOno in five years?
I am so thankful for the traction we have received in our first year, and I have big dreams. Really big dreams. I want to be dressing women around the world who are dealing with the same issues I had, and want to feel good after surgery. I am starting to get emails from around the globe - this is a worldwide problem - and I hope to get the opportunity to sell in stores where they can find us. I hope to make a difference. And I hope to continue to give back and support this community!
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