March 11, 2016
After revealing February’s Qualification Grant Finalists last week, we’re excited to announce our qualification grant winner. Congrats Allison Schickel, founder of The Brobe!
Read on to learn all about Allison and her business.
WN: Tell us about your business and how you got started.
DB: I launched The Brobe in 2012 but had the idea several years earlier. The original idea was to create a lounge wear garment like a robe with a built in support system. Being from Texas it gets very hot. I would struggle each morning trying to find a sports bra to wear under my robe while getting ready or just drinking my coffee. I wanted an all in one garment that would help refrain from “boob sweat” that so many of us ladies are familiar with. I spent 5 years searching for a garment like this and every time I would go shopping I would ask the sales people if they had ANYTHING like what I was describing. The response was always the same, “no, but your like the 1000 person who has asked for something like this.” It was not until years later when a friend was diagnosed with breast cancer when I realized the lack of functional yet feminine products on the market for BC recovery. I wanted to create something that gave women the dignity they deserve in an otherwise very hard time in their life. What was originally birthed out of frustration of a lack of “support” in a lounge wear garment, quickly became a product with a mission and a purpose. I took my original idea and expanded it to fit the needs of women recovering from a mastectomy or reconstructive surgery as well as many other surgeries that require a post operative fluid drain while in recovery(transplant, open heart surgery, plastic surgery)
WN: Is there a way for people to donate a Brobe to an individual in need?
DB: Yes, they can order a Brobe or a gift card from the website for the person in need. We also donate a portion of our stock every year to non-profit organizations. Anyone who wouldlike more infomration can call us directly.
WN: Do you have any competition in this area of business?
DB: Not a lot. There are different products on the market that are geared towards breast cancer recovery such as tank tops, gowns, shirts, and belts. However, none of them have all the functions that the Brobe offers with a detachable recovery bra that has pockets inside the bra for ice packs or a prosthetic as well as a luxurious robe that has pockets inside the robe to hold drains as well. The Brobe also is designed to be worn before during and after recovery.
WN: Are your products sold in any retailers? If not, is that the plan in the future?
DB: Yes, we are sold in various hospital gift shops and mastectomy boutiques throughout the world
WN: What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs?
DB: Do your homework before starting a business. Being an entrepreneur and effectively running a business is hard work, especially as a woman. I would recommend other woman with aspirations in my industry get a mentor and really listen to what he or she has to say. Be a “sponge” and really learn from their mistakes, so you don’t have to make as many of your own! Also understand how they achieved their successes. Mentors can be one of your most valuable resources for knowledge.And never be afraid to ask for a mentor! Most (and usually the best) will be honored to accept.I have a fantastic Advisory Board that I am constantly reaching out to for advice. I think it is imperative as a small business owner to surround myself with people who are more experienced, more connected and smarter than me. As my mom also always told me, “You are who you hang out with,” so I am sure to surround myself with people I can lean on and from whom I can constantly learn.
Learn More about Allison in her video here:
If you’d like to vote for Allison to win the $1,000 Amber Grant, you can vote for her here.
Thanks for reading! Remember that we award a grant every month – if interested, please apply today.