A small independent lingerie label specializing in garments for breast cancer survivors has a chance to win $5-million in free, worldwide publicity today after making it to the finals in a contest that celebrates American entrepreneurs.
First prize in the Small Business Big Game competition is a 30-second commercial placement in the 2016 Super Bowl telecast, valued at a record-setting $5-million and with the potential to reach over 1 billion worldwide viewers.
For AnaOno Intimates, the Philadelphia-based label that creates innovative bras for women who have had reconstructive surgery following cancer treatment, winning the Big Game competition could put the brand and its mission on the fashion map around the world.
AnaOno is one of 10 finalists vying for the prize sponsored by Intuit, makers of the QuickBooks small business software, and was chosen from among 15,000 businesses that submitted nominations.
Online public voting closes at 5 p.m. (EST), when the top three vote-getters will be announced at a QuickBooks small business conference in San Jose, CA.
The winning entry will be unveiled during the Super Bowl on Feb. 7 and will receive both a 30-second commercial and financing to cover all production costs.
QuickBooks has been promoting the prize as a “life-changing” opportunity for the winning business. But Dana Donofree, the 33-year-old founder of AnaOno, is no stranger to life-changing twists of fate and fortune.
She was only 27 — and shopping for honeymoon outfits with her mother and future mother-in-law — when she received a phone call informing her that she had breast cancer. She underwent a bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery as well as chemotherapy.
With a background in fashion, Dana decided to create her own label to fill a market gap in comfortable bras for women who have undergone reconstructive surgery. AnaOno, which debuted in 2013 with two wireless bamboo-and-lace bralette styles, billed itself as the first lingerie line that focuses on sexy post-reconstruction bras.
“We shouldn’t have to sacrifice fashion because our bodies have changed due to breast cancer,” she told Lingerie Talk last year.
“After you get reconstructive surgery with implants it becomes very difficult to shop for a bra,” she said. “Women are very, very sensitive due to scar tissue and bralette styles geared toward a younger woman don’t translate well for a woman 45 or 50 years old.”
AnaOno also set out to address the complicated fit issues that are unique to women after breast surgery, creating a sizing system more related to dress size than traditional cup sizes. The brand currently offers five bra styles (each named after a breast cancer survivor) and a companion range of lingerie and loungewear pieces.
AnaOno‘s product range and its eye-catching marketing — featuring cancer survivors in tutus wielding broadswords — attracted international media attention, and the brand quickly became known for its advocacy and charitable work in the breast cancer community. A portion of each sale from its collection is donated to the education and support groups such as the Young Survivor Coalition and Living Beyond Breast Cancer.
Here are some images from last year’s memorable “Never Alone” photoshoot from AnaOno, featuring seven cancer survivors.