We had the good fortune of connecting with Kristen Carbone and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kristen, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Brilliantly started with trying to solve a problem for myself. My mother Lisa died from metastatic breast cancer at age 49, and after years of expensive and emotionally taxing screenings, finding a lump, and learning more about my potential hereditary risks, I had a preventative mastectomy and reconstruction in 2013. In the years following, I faced a profound shift in my identity and connection with my body. One of the things that really bothered me was feeling constantly cold. Turned out, I wasn’t the only one dealing with this discomfort—a relatively common result of implant reconstruction. After countless failed attempts to jerry-rig a quick fix, I set my mind on designing a sustainable solution to help women like myself feel physically better. Through conversations with other women, I also recognized that the opportunity to help women feel better was much bigger. I wanted to broaden the scope of what’s out there for women navigating life after an experience with breast cancer.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Brilliantly exists to make women feel seen and heard, to listen and respond. Of course any of us who’ve had life-extending medical care feel grateful, but there is so much missing for navigating life after surgery and treatment. We are committed to helping women who are actively looking to feel more like themselves and ask for what they need to do so. We are creating product, services and content that make the issues women face more visible. So far we’ve started a portrait project, released a corrective exercise video series, hosted events, feature interviews and blog posts on our online journal and just launched our first product.
The process of starting Brilliantly and developing Brilliantly Warm has been genuinely bittersweet. Breast cancer has taken more from me than I ever could have imagined but also given me a reason to summon up the courage for starting a business. 15 years ago when my mother died, it was hard to imagine all the reasons I’d have for living. Seven years ago, when I was in bed recovering from my preventative mastectomy, I knew I had to do something more meaningful with my life to overcome my pain. It is in the love I’ve found for the women I seek to serve, for the people behind the scenes supporting me, and for myself that keeps me motivated to overcome all the challenges I’ve come up against. I don’t say this often, but I am proud of what I’ve achieved so far. While it’s yet to be seen if my business will be successful, I feel each difficult moment I’ve overcome is bolstering me for the next.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I’d like to thank my ex-husband for his continued support. Besides being the most excellent coparent, he built my website, helps with my rather constant tech problems (hot tip: turn it off, then turn it back on), and remains an advocate for me putting myself first from time to time. Our relationship doesn’t look much like what either of us expected, but I am so grateful for the role he’s played in my life and my business.
Photos by MStudios RI