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When Emily was ten years old, her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her mother had cancer again when Emily was 16, 18, and 20 years old. Emily's mother is currently 58 years old, healthy, and refers to herself, among many other things, as a victor.
Emily had observed the impact of surgery, medication, radiation, and chemotherapy treatments on her mother. Throughout her three episodes of breast cancer and one episode of thyroid cancer, Emily's mother gained and lost weight, lost her hair, wore a wig or hat, had more visible scars, and developed an ashen complexion. Emily watched her struggle to find clothes that were comfortable and stylish and a wig that didn't look fake in order to maintain her dignity.
Emily realized that one direct way she could help her mother was by locating comfortable yet attractive clothing that she could easily slip into after her mastectomy and during treatment to accommodate the way her body had changed. Throughout her mother's multiple bouts with cancer, finding clothing that made her daily living more comfortable both lifted her spirits and improved her body-image. It wasn't about spending a lot of time or money; it was just about finding clothes that her mother liked and that made her feel good. At times, they would even raid her mother's closet to see what old things they could make new again. Based upon this realization and the desire to help other women similarly, the concept behind Shop Well with You was formulated.
In addition, the idea evolved as Emily had practical experiences which contributed to SWY's development. In the summer of 1998, Emily was awarded the May Company Fashion Internship Scholarship at Brown University, which enabled her to work at the showroom for Betsey Johnson in New York City and provided Emily with a foray into the fashion industry.
In the fall of 1998, Emily decided to take a year-long sabbatical from Brown University to combine her interest in fashion with her commitment to public service. She found a solution when she began working at a not-for-profit called Dress for Success which provides low income women who are seeking employment with interview-appropriate clothes. As the Affiliate Relations Coordinator at Dress for Success, Emily was able to assist women from domestic abuse shelters, homeless shelters and displaced immigrant programs and suit them with professional clothes for the workplace.
These experiences directed Emily towards launching SWY. When she received one of three awards from the Brown University Entrepreneurship Program's Business Plan Competition as the first not-for-profit to be given the honor, her idea to start this organization became a reality.
Since graduating from Brown University in 2001 with a B.A. with Honors in art/semiotics, Emily has worked to shape this grassroots organization into a valuable information source for female cancer survivors nationwide.
Inspired by Emily's mother, and motivated by the thousands of women each year who are diagnosed with cancer and want to maintain their dignity, SWY helps women live with, through, and beyond their cancer.
Shop Well with You is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization.
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