Dana Donofree is a game-changing, female visionary, making a positive impact for breast cancer survivors worldwide with her inclusive lingerie and loungewear brand, AnaOno.
After being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 at the young age of 27, Dana has made it a mission to create comfortable, sexy, and inclusivelingerie for the community of women Dana thought felt much like her— breast cancer survivors and thrivers who feel isolated, and are learning to love their bodies again.
AnaOno is designed for women of all shapes and sizes – whether they have natural breasts, no breasts, one breast, or fake breasts, allowing you to beautifully unique. Her newest UNDERNEATH Collection hopes to give women strength, empowerment, and loving care to show yourself that no matter what’s underneath, you are WORTHY, you are BEAUTIFUL, you are SEXY.
Here are some favorites in the new collection:
Beth High Waist Brief ($20) – For a soft and flattering look, this lacey high-waist brief is the perfect compliment for any look! Available in three different colors, the classic brief-style panty is the subtle sexy look that will never go out of style.
La’ Babydoll ($58) – Sexy meets comfort with this slip-style lingerie piece, perfect for a night in! Underwire free, with a simple 3-hook closure, this nightie is as elegant as it is comfortable.
Gloria Pocketed Wire-Free Bra ($54) – This versatile and comfortable bralette is the best new addition to your lingerie drawer. Soft and stretchy lace details meet fully lined soft cups to create this cute everyday-bra. Featuring built-in pockets for lightweight breast forms or prostheses, and adjustable straps + 4-hook closure, this bra will always grant you the perfect balanced fit.
Sarah Crop Cami ($48) – Flirty, cute, and comfortable, the Sarah Crop Cami is as cute as it is soft. Wire-free and pocketed, this cami grants you style and freedom with its super soft material, and sexy lace details.
BELLA got to know Dana and learn more about her inspirational journey to becoming a designer…
Dana, your story of survival, and eventually entrepreneurship, in the face of a deadly disease, is nothing short of inspirational. Where did you find the strength to birth a new business venture while battling breast cancer?
I agree! It does sound crazy, and it feels crazy when I look back on it. In all honesty, I knew I needed to do SOMETHING. I couldn’t just sit back when I knew I had the skills to make our lives just a little bit easier. Work was also such an outlet for me, it was the time when I got to “not think about cancer,” but on things that had nothing to do with my diagnosis. When the idea of AnaOno came to me (when I was awoken due to an extreme hot flash,) I sat there thinking, “how many women are there out there like me? Young with breast cancer? A fashion designer? One that dreamed of having her own line eventually? And one that was crazy enough to do something about it?” All I could answer was, “it’s ME!”
I am sure that shaking up the fashion industry, while also creating positive change on the way lingerie is designed, came with many challenges. What have you had to overcome while getting AnaOno off the ground?
One of the biggest challenges I have faced along the way was the misunderstanding of breast cancer to the general public. Since the disease has been marketed by pink ribbons for so long, many people, unless they have afflicted themselves, or someone very close to their lives had been diagnosed, didn’t understand what happened after a diagnosis of breast cancer. The bald head – that is what most people associate with cancer. That gives the world the sign that someone is “sick” and undergoing chemotherapy. The harsh realities of breast cancer happen well beyond the bald head. Breasts are removed, either entirely or in portions. When I started AnaOno, we weren’t talking about these topics in the open, mastectomy scars (and tattoos) were not in mainstream media, and without the realization of what was happening to patients bodies, I had a lot of explaining to do around why we needed different bras in the first place. That was a big burden for a small business. I vowed that AnaOno will be a voice to many of these topics, from sexuality and intimacy following a diagnosis, to missing nipples and missing breasts, and even Stage IV Metastatic breast cancer. AnaOno was going to be more than just a bra, the bra is a vehicle to do so much more than that!
Your mission is to make other survivors and thrivers feel sexy and comfortable in their new bodies. Do you go to them for inspiration when creating your designs?
We are so incredibly lucky to not just get inspired by our customers every single day, but that they are literally a part of AnaOno. I will never forget some incredible and pivotal points in my development as a patient and as a designer. Hearing the intimate stories of others in our community provides hope and inspiration to fill the void with as much as we can handle. A story that sticks out in my mind, is getting an email from a patient that had no breasts at all. She told me about her sex life. How she had desires to adorn a beautiful, sexy, black lace bra that hooked in back. How she wanted to share in an intimate moment we often take for granted, the unhooking of that bra during an intimate moment with your partner. And how she dreamed that this would be her opportunity at some point in time. I stood back, reading this email and realizing, we are NOT our breasts – we are so much more than that. We are stronger than our breasts. It was that story which inspired me to create beautiful bras that would lay flat on bodies that were just as sexy as the ones that had cups. Because it shouldn’t matter if we have one breast, two breasts, no breasts, or new breasts, we all deserve to feel sexy and feminine, if that is what our hearts desire. That is why boob-inclusion is the most important part of everything we do at AnaOno.
Could you share with our female readers, who may be struggling or aspiring entrepreneurs, one piece of advice for achieving success?
Do not give up. Never give up. The world needs you and your ideas. Struggling is a part of the process. I think there is so much added pressure to be the “best,” to do the right thing, to achieve certain goals. The reality is, this pressure is pressure we put on ourselves. If you are passionate and you believe you can change someone’s life, make it easier, or ease some pain, you have to give it your best shot, barriers or not.
What would you, or do you, share with other cancer survivors to offer support, encourage resilience, or help them find confidence in their physical appearance?
One day at a time. I know that sounds so simple, but it is quite complex for those diagnosed with cancer. When you feel you have your footing, something will throw you off. So don’t be too hard on yourself. Loving your new body takes time. Caring for your new mind takes time. Finding hope in your heart takes time. But you do get there. In your own way, but you do get there.
Let our readers know where they can follow you on your journey or shop your beautiful collection, AnaOno.
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