Like most tech founders, Kristen Carbone got started by trying to solve problems that she was experiencing herself. But unlike most tech founders, her problem was keeping warm following a preventive double mastectomy.
Carbone founded Brilliantly, a company that helps women with the transition from confronting breast cancer to embracing life, which features a warming bra insert that helps combat the cold sensation that comes with implants.
“I was totally unprepared for what it would feel like to live in my body after having a preventive mastectomy,” says Carbone, 39, a mom of two whose mother died of breast cancer in her forties. Carbone, who lives in Providence, Rhode Island, had a preventive double mastectomy herself in 2013.
Her reconstruction with implants led to the idea for a product that launched in June 2021 after almost four years of research and development.
From Mastectomy Patient to Company Founder
“I was constantly bothered by my chest always feeling cold,” she says. “And once I learned how many other women were suffering with this same issue, I wanted to do something about it.”
That product, Brilliantly Warm, is currently on the market. As Carbone intended, it slips easily into any bra and is controlled by an app, making it an almost invisible solution for women who want to feel more comfortable and warm.
The wearable is completely rechargeable. Once a setting is selected in the app, the wearable immediately begins warming and gradually builds over time. A built-in thermometer on the wearable, ensures that it never exceeds 107 degrees F. Warming patterns are also spread out so you don't get more than 10 to 20 minutes per hour.
Brilliantly Warm was designed with mastectomy patients in mind but is really for anyone who is cold and wears a bra, says Carbone. Since launching, the wearable has been used by breast cancer patients, nursing moms, and individuals with chronic conditions who feel constantly cold.
Carbone's inspiration for the product has always tied back to her mother. "I've been dedicated to building a product that embodied my mother's essence: beautiful, smart, authentic, no bullshit, and — above all — warm," reads her website.
A single Brilliantly Warm can be purchased for $99 and a pair can be purchased for $180.
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Brilliantly: Creating a Community of Support
In addition to this product, which sold out in its presale campaign and is on its second production run of 500 units, Brilliantly is a robust website that offers content to help address some of the issues survivors and previvors are facing, such as sexual dysfunction, dealing with medical bills, talking to kids about hereditary cancer, and living well after surgery and treatment.
Mostly, Carbone wants the website to be a place where women can find programming that will make their lives better.
“In my early conversations with women in the breast cancer community, I was struck by how many of them were dealing with common, quality-of-life issues even years after surgery and treatment,” she says.
This is why she felt compelled to offer free online events where professionals are invited to share information and answer questions about topics like dating, nutrition, sexual health, and caregiving.
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Movement, Mindfulness, and Self-Love Resources
And there’s more: Anyone experiencing limited strength and mobility, which is common after breast surgery, can tap into Brilliantly Strong, a free, online corrective exercise program. (Look for even more elements to be added to this program next year.)
Stressed and overwhelmed? Brilliantly Calm is the place on the website visitors can go for free guided meditations.
Another project close to Carbone’s heart is the Brilliantly Portrait Project that, though on pause due to the pandemic, enables makeup artists and photographers to donate their time to help women affected by breast cancer see their inner beauty through meaningful photoshoots.
Carbone's Continued Mission to Connect
Carbone is clearly on a mission that’s straight from the heart.
“When I started Brilliantly, I was working at a small, design thinking consultancy during the day and working at night on the website and product development," she says.
“If my super power is listening to women tell me their stories, I knew I could help by creating a product to make their life better and building a website that I knew would help connect them to each other.”
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