An Inspiring Afternoon with Dana of AnaOno

Dana, Shari and Beth in Philly

This weekend Beth and I had the pleasure of meeting up with Dana Donofree, the founder of AnaOno Intimates.  Dana is a clothing designer and breast cancer survivor.  She found that the market was missing bras for women who have had reconstructive surgery after breast cancer so she did what any of us would have done (HA!) and started her own lingerie line.  I wanted to meet Dana for several reasons, she’s new to the industry like us (somewhat, anyway!), her bras are gorgeous, we both have a connection to breast cancer, and she’s been all over the media (The Today Show, Refinery29, Mashable to name a few)  and I was curious how she’d done it.

Meeting her was an absolute delight.  One thing was clear: her passion, for her business, for helping women and for climbing the next mountain in her path.  We got to see her studio, which looks exactly like I pictured, with sewing machines and lots of fabric and inspirational pictures on the wall.  Our conversation covered bras,  body image, the demands of social media on a new business, websites, empowering women, obtaining inventory, family, culture, religion…  it was a wonderful afternoon.  (And, there was brunch!)

The most memorable part of the conversation was talking about the need for line of bras like this.  I was surprised to find out that she has detractors!  Someone claiming that the Jennifer is simply a sports bra.  Yes, it is.  But, it’s not.  These bras aren’t designed for natural breasts, although Dana says that many women who haven’t had reconstruction wear them and love them.

When we talked about the need for AnaOno bras – I thought about the ravages of cancer.  Unfortunately, I’ve seen it up close a few times.  It is a brazen thief of a disease, stealing everything that it can manage.  Dana echoed the sentiment and agreed that when the fighting is over (if it’s ever really over) and the recovery begins, sometimes it’s about figuring out which pieces are where and how to put them back together, if they still even fit.

Where does normal start again?  Why not with something as basic as getting dressed every day?  A survivor should be given a chance to be whatever she wants – and pretty underthings are part of that.  (especially given that pretty lingerie is related to an increase in self-esteem)  It’s about being beautiful.  It’s about having choices.  It’s a step back to being like everyone else, if that’s what she wants.  I think AnaOno is offering that opportunity to women in a way that never has been before.

I tried on the Jennifer, and it’s wonderful.  Very comfy, the bamboo fabric is lovely.  It fit great, although with my 34DD, I’m used to a wire.  I also tried on the Rachel, which is beautiful.  That’s the one that I wanted to fit, but it didn’t.  Natural breasts don’t always lay the same way that reconstructed breasts do. (I actually learned that from a stripper named Buffy in Vegas, maybe we’ll tell that story another time… or, not.)  If all breasts, regardless of their origin, were the same, then Dana would not have started AnaOno Intimates.  So the Rachel might work for some women with natural breasts, depending on their shape, but it didn’t work for me.  (bummer)

It was very inspiring and humbling to learn more about Dana’s business.  And to learn about all of the intricacies of a lingerie clothing business.  Yikes.  Her pieces are amazing, but it’s a very complicated process to get them from her drawing pad to your body.  The slogan on her site say “You Are Never Alone” and I got the impression that is her plan, to continue to advocate for women in a way that no one has before.  We definitely feel like we found a friend!


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