Designer Spotlight with Dana Donofree, Founder of AnaOno

Designer Spotlight with Dana Donofree, Founder of AnaOno

Our mission is to make sure that our lingerie collection is as diverse as YOU, our lingerie lovers. You all have different needs - and so we are thrilled to have launched our Mastectomy and post-surgical lingerie category. Ranging from post-op to recovery and beyond, each brand we carry offers pieces to support you with whatever your journey may bring. Journelle had the chance to speak to Dana Donofree, Founder and Designer of AnaOno, lingerie for the unique ways your breasts have been (re)created. Continue reading to learn more about Dana’s journey as well as how she hopes to change someone’s day with her creations.

 Woman wearing red bralette

What inspired you to create AnaOno?

I received a very unfortunate diagnosis of breast cancer in my mid-20's that led to a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. After going through all these surgeries and cancer treatment, I quickly realized just how much my body had changed, many of them were expected, one I didn’t...was just how much my need of underwear would change with it. Underwire bras and molded cups were ill-fitting and painful; this was a blow to just about everything I knew about bra shopping. I was told over and over to go find a “mastectomy bra” and when I did, I literally cried. All my “new” options were matronly, utilitarian, and downright ugly. I often thought to myself, “What did I do!” Even though I had no control over my treatment and removing my breasts was my right choice, it felt like the world was now telling me I was broken, and that I would never feel beautiful or sexy again and that I should just be lucky I was alive. That wasn’t enough. I wanted to LIVE my life, not hide in the corner with my nippless breasts. So, I decided to do something about it, and took my decade plus of fashion design experience and applied it to my new body. I deconstructed a bra to reconstruct a bra, and AnaOno was born. I am so incredibly proud of how far we have come and how many patients around the world we have helped, and I hope to ensure that no person diagnosed with breast cancer cries in a lingerie fitting room because there was nothing there that fit them. 

Woman wearing beige bralette

Tell us a little bit about what goes behind your collections, from ideation to hitting stores…

A lot of what I started was shaped around my own lived experience and the challenges I faced getting dressed after breast cancer, but today, it has evolved into so much more. Surgeries are evolving, the way we talk about breast cancer is finally evolving, and in an even broader sense, access has changed, and we are able to help support many people, with many different surgery decisions, around the globe. Today, we rely on the feedback and insight of our community, maybe you are living life flat (often referred to as aesthetic flat closure) because you didn’t want additional surgeries, or even had to explant from one, or you have a new implant, or FLAP surgery that hasn’t been performed yet, all of these surgery decisions yield different results and we are proud to call ourselves boob-inclusive, because if you have one breast, two breasts, no breasts or new breasts, we want you to feel the best that YOU can feel no matter what! 

Woman wearing black bralette

If you could change one perception about post-surgical/mastectomy lingerie, what would it be?

I would say that it’s no longer your Grandma’s Mastectomy Bra, and better yet, it doesn’t have to be. You can live your life boldly and beautifully with or without breasts. It’s all about empowering yourself, not showing the world what others want to see. A mastectomy bra was traditionally built to house and hold your heavy and hot breast forms so you could appear “normal” under your clothing. That is no longer the case, because “normal” is not a definition we should use to express our new bodies or our new lives, it just “is.” So, celebrate your body, no matter what shape or size it comes in. I’m happy to say that AnaOno strives to reinstate comfort and beauty that you have a right to, no matter if you have had your breasts removed because of cancer, or made a choice to augment them, or reduce them, or undergo any other form of breast surgery, or hey, may I dare to say just desire the simple option to be comfortable! We do it all. 

Woman wearing red braletteAt Journelle, we believe that you should love the lingerie you wear every day - it is the first layer you put on when getting dressed in the morning! How do you see AnaOno impacting someone's day?

To me, intimates are so important because of this very fact, it is the first thing that touches your skin every day, when you wake up, get out of the shower, and get out and conquer the day! I started every one of my mornings depressed because I was squeezing myself into another uncomfortable sports bra, and doing my best to hide the neon green straps as I pulled myself together and went to work. I didn’t realize just how much this simple act was dictating all facets of my life. I lacked confidence. I felt insecure. I didn’t feel like myself. I realized it was because I couldn’t express myself the way I wanted to because my intimates were too limiting to my self-expression and lifestyle. It took me outfitting my entire wardrobe before I realized what it was. Today, I slip into my AnaOno, a bra designed with my body in mind, and I am comfortable. I feel good. I LOOK good. I get out there and I conquer that day, and I only hope it does that to just one person every day and I know all my hard work is worth it! 

What is the one AnaOno product you think is a must-buy, and why?

If I am being completely honest, just like a good Mother, there are no “favorites”....except we all know that we have one...and mine in the Susan! This sexy triangle cup with a plunging low neckline is so sexy on the body, it covers all my spots that I can get insecure about, like extra chub above my implant, or even my scars, while also supporting me just enough to get through my day, and if I am lucky into the bedroom! It is both sophisticated and sexy, comfortable and pretty, and better yet, I love it because it looks so incredible on ALL body types, including boobies, foobies, and nothing at all! Sometimes I let it pop out of my blouse so it can have a moment and sometimes I keep the sexy to myself and hide it under a sweater, and that is for me to decide, that little boost of confidence is for ME! 

Woman wearing lace bralette

Explore AnaOno as well as our entire Mastectomy collection at Journelle Union Square, and on our Journelle app.

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