Kristen is a fellow femcare pioneer, friend of Lady Suite, and the founder of Brilliantly, a platform dedicated to serving the needs of women who’ve had an experience with breast cancer.
Brilliantly helps these incredible women embrace life through innovative products, thoughtful content, and relevant services. Her first product, Brilliantly Warm, is an app-controlled warming wearable for the many women who experience a constant and distracting feeling of coldness from their breast implant reconstruction.
We are grateful to know Kristen and share her story with you!
I am committed to making the lives of the people around me more comfortable, fulfilling and beautiful. After a decade long career working in curatorial departments in Museums across New York and New England I founded Brilliantly, a platform dedicated to meeting the long term, quality of life issues faced by women who’ve had an experience with breast cancer.
A writer, public speaker, and solution finder, I serve on the Advisory Council for the Breasties, and am a member of Dreamers & Doers, The Fourth Floor, Female Founders Community. In addition to my work at Brilliantly, I am an avid jigsaw puzzler, gardener, and list maker
One of the things that bothered me was feeling constantly cold. After countless failed attempts to jerry-rig something, I set my mind on designing a sustainable solution to help women like myself feel physically better. Through countless conversations in the summer of 2017, I realized that the opportunity to help women feel better was much bigger. I wanted to broaden the scope of what’s out there for navigating life after an experience with breast cancer.
Since then I’ve started a portrait project, a corrective exercise program, and hosted numerous events about quality of life issues faced by this community.
After almost four years of R&D, Brilliantly Warm, our app-controlled warming wearable that fits into any bra is available for pre-sale!
I’m so excited that Brilliantly Warm is finally available for presale. It’s a really awesome product that we realized is effective for keeping anyone who wears a bra warm and cozy- not just women who’ve had implant reconstruction. Brilliantly Warm fits into any bra because we didn’t want to complicate the already difficult process of finding a bra you love.
The idea is that you put on Brilliantly Warm while you’re getting dressed and then turn it on whenever you’re feeling cold- on the subway, in the grocery story, during a board meeting- with just a few clicks on the app. It’s effective, safe and discreet. I’m super proud of all the people who’ve helped bring this to fruition.
If anyone is interested in learning more or pre-ordering one, head on over to our website. https://www.brilliantly.co/
Honestly, immersing myself in the breast cancer community is bittersweet. I’ve made some life-long friendships, lost friends and been forced to contend with every facet of my grief. I think I would have said, before starting Brilliantly, that I’d dealt with losing my mother young. What I’ve learned since is a much deeper understanding of who I am as a person, my values and how breast cancer has impacted every part of my life. I think that even though this has been challenging, giving back to this community and learning more about myself are worth it.
This is such a good question and the simplest answer is that you have to be your own advocate. That starts with knowing your body. Do self checks every month. It’s absolutely essential to know how your breasts look at feel at different parts of your cycle so you can detect an abnormality early. Advocating for yourself also means knowing your family history, but it’s important to remember that only about 10% of breast cancers are hereditary. So even if you don’t have a family member who has had breast cancer, you should still be diligent about doing monthly checks.
It took us about four years of research and development to get to this version of Brilliantly Warm. Knowing that we’d done our diligence on what causes the problem we’re trying to solve, understanding how people perceive temperature and then doing the research to ensure that what we’ve designed is safe was time consuming and essential. There are more than a dozen engineers who’ve worked don this product and hundreds of hours of research and testing that have gone into creating it. I’m so thankful for all the skilled, expert work and studies that have informed our product. It can be hard to explain what takes so long, but no one has ever made this product before so we were learning as we went. Build, test, adjust, repeat.
Thank you! It was my hope to create a brand that felt accepting and celebrates the constellations of our life experience that scars represent. I was just talking about how I feel about my altered body yesterday because, for the first time, I have a bathing suit where you can see part of my mastectomy scar. It’s a big deal to accept how one’s body looks, even before having children and surgery and what happens naturally as we age. I attribute my ability to accept my own body to seeing other people accepting theirs. The first time I saw a woman on social media with a top on where her scar was body highlighted, I thought “fuck yeah!” Then I wondered if I could also feel that way about my own body. It’s not easy, but I’m trying.
Well, usually I’d ask you to buy me a drink before I answer this one, what the heck! I would say that my sexual and general wellness went out the window for the first few years of starting this business. I was so focused on my professional life and my kids that I wasn’t making any room at all for myself. All of my needs went on the back burner and it wasn’t good. During that time I had to have a parathyroid surgery and developed an autoimmune problem. It was a wake up call. I can only do as well for the world as I do for myself. I’m trying harder now to take time for myself, eat well, drink less (if I discount all the COVID drinking), sleep regularly and take care of both my sexual and emotional self.
A river cuts through rock not because of its power, but it’s persistence.
There’s so much in store for Brilliantly. We’ll be fulfilling our pre-orders for Brilliantly Warm in the next few weeks, first of all! We’re working on the next phase of our corrective exercise program, Brilliantly Strong and some really exciting collaborations are in the works. If people want to join the community or follow along, then can join our mailing list from our website or check us out on IG. And, if someone wants to reach out directly, I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org and would love to hear stories, feedback, questions!
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