Black Founder Who Creates Breast Cancer Survivors Just Raised Over $ 1.2 Million
JAsmine Jones remembers searching the aisles of a medical device store for a breast prosthesis for her grandmother, who recently had a mastectomy. Hidden behind aisles of walkers, canes and bandages, they found the one and only option: a pink prosthesis that wasn’t even covered by health insurance.
Twenty years later, Jones is creating a more positive prosthetic experience for breast cancer survivors with Cherry Blossom Intimates, a lingerie boutique in Glenarden, Maryland, which sells custom 3D printed silicone prostheses, bras and more. of 200 sizes and lingerie. Since its launch in October 2018, she and her co-founder, Dr. Regina Hampton, the only breast cancer surgeon in the country to receive mastectomy installer certification, have equipped 800 women for post-mastectomy products and have had over 3,500 clients. During that round, they raised over $ 1.2 million, bringing their total funding to around $ 1.7 million, to rethink their brick and mortar retail experience for a virtual world.
Part of Cherry Blossom Intimates’ value proposition is the individual customer experience, in which the store’s bra adjuster manually measures each woman’s chest cavity and fits it for a prosthesis. Their technology allows clients to customize their prosthetic breasts, including nipple size, freckles, veins and skin tone, a service that was not previously available in a retail setting. The icing on the cake: They accept 80% of national health insurance funds and their prostheses are covered up to 100% (without insurance they can cost up to $ 3,500). For this work, Jones made the 2019 Forbes 30 Under 30 Retail & Ecommerce listing.
“Maya Angelou has a quote: the goal isn’t just to survive, it’s to thrive,” Jones says. “I took this philosophy and created a line of very modern post-mastectomy bras for women. “
For many, recreating and reimagining bodies lost to cancer is an emotional experience – an experience that Covid-19 has made a health hazard, especially for clients who are already immunosuppressed. “I had to figure out how our business was going to stay alive if I could never touch a woman in my life again,” says Jones.
She applied for TechStars and was accepted to the Accelerator, where she connected with investors including Anna Mason, Partner of Revolution’s Rise of the Rest Seed Fund, CEO of TechStars Lesa Mitchell, President of BioNovus Innovations Tammy Ham and Bread & Butter Ventures managing partners Mary Grove and Brett Bohl. They, along with SoGal Ventures, whose co-founder met Jones at Forbes Under 30 Global Summit, gave him $ 2 million to fund a virtual version of Cherry Blossom Intimates. Cherry Blossom Intimates’ contactless iteration adapts to clients through a smartphone app that scans women’s bodies for measurements and delivers new prosthetics through a doctor-prescribed subscription.
“We’ve never seen Cherry Blossom as a pure retail place,” says Elizabeth Galbut, Managing Partner and Co-Founder of SoGal Ventures, which also invested $ 100,000 in Cherry Blossom Intimates after Jones won the global competition. of the company’s 2020 pitch. “We’ve always seen it as a model of more retail digital technology and even a distributed workforce so they can reach women across the country, and someday internationally.”
This round is historic, because the black foundresses only received 0.0006% of venture capital funding since 2009, but Jones is optimistic his increase will turn the tide. “It seems like the world is taking black female founders very seriously and investing in us and our potential,” she says. “I am a founder who has a new and fresh perspective on an industry that has always ignored us.”
Although Jones is keeping details of the technology under wraps for now to deter imitators, Ham, a breast cancer survivor, of BioNovus Innovations, has high hopes for the commercial potential of virtual fittings and the ability to improve performance. life of women who have had a mastectomy.
“I understand how cruel the disease is and how you have to fight for your dignity at every stage of breast cancer,” Ham said. “Jasmine [Jones] is truly providing an incredible service to women who have had mastectomy.