My decision to undergo a hysterectomy and double mastectomy after my positive BRCA test was not an easy one (click here to read what led to my decision in Part 1 of How My Midlife Reinvention Inspired The Launch Of Eileen & Eva®.) The prospect of undergoing 6 surgeries in 18 months and recovering from them with two kids and a husband at home was overwhelming. But after watching my mother lose her battle with ovarian cancer and seeing the toll treatment took on her, I knew it was the only option that felt right for me and my family.
My mom’s cancer journey and the aftermath of my own preventative surgeries gave me plenty of time to reflect on what was truly important to me and the impact I wanted to make in the world.
If I was honest with myself, I had to admit that my corporate career had lost its luster long before I left it. I realized that toward the end of my tenure as General Brand Manager of Crème de la Mer and Jo Malone, I was no longer growing and evolving. I was desperate for a change but I didn’t know what that would look like at the time.
My experience with cancer and BRCA made me realize something else as well; there was a huge void in our community for flattering clothing in classic styles that would hide the drains, ports, and PICC lines we have to contend with while also leaving them accessible.
Thinking about fashion in the midst of the fight of your life might seem frivolous but in all honesty, undergoing treatment for cancer and dealing with the aftermath of preventative surgeries like mine can make you extremely self-conscious about your changing appearance. Many women in our community struggle with body image after losing their breasts and/or reproductive organs.
The fact is, you still want to feel feminine; you still want to feel attractive. And sometimes the one thing that makes you feel better about yourself is to be able to put on a cute outfit and face the world feeling (at least a little bit) like your old self.
After dealing with my own wardrobe challenges and watching the women around me struggle as well, I decided that I wanted to serve our community by designing a clothing line that would be functional during the treatment and recovery processes and also allow them to feel beautiful and stylish at the same time.
Although I had a successful corporate career building top beauty brands, I didn’t think being an entrepreneur was in my DNA! I had no experience in fashion design either but I had always been inspired by my mother’s femininity and love of style. I knew that if I did my research, I could design a few staple wardrobe pieces that would fill the gap for cancer survivors and previvors. That was the realization that planted the seed for Eileen & Eva®.
*Stay tuned for Part 3 of How My Midlife Reinvention Inspired The Launch Of Eileen & Eva® to find out how we’re growing! Click here to join our mailing list and be the first to read the rest of the story when it becomes available.