People 04 May 2017
While Handful was getting off the ground in 2006, Cary Goldberg, a young mother of two girls discovered a lump in her breast. That lump turned out to be breast cancer. Over the next five years, Goldberg endured a double mastectomy, chemotherapy, radiation, biologic therapy, clinical trials, the removal of her ovaries and uterus and daily hormone therapy, the culmination of which finally rendered her cancer-free.
At the five-year mark, she learned about Handful from a neighbor and finally found the answer to a five-year search for a bra that would fit her breastless form. Realizing that there were other modern, active, flat and fabulous survivors who would benefit from the Handful Bra, Goldberg went to work managing survivor relations.
Handful was founded by Jennifer Ferguson, a group fitness instructor and mother of two young kids. Ferguson launched Handful because she could not find a bra that could keep up with her active and energetic lifestyle. The Handful mission is to promote and enhance women’s self-esteem, while inspiring them to live out their fullest potential, regardless of what curveballs life throws their way. Over the last 10 years, Ferguson has transformed her dream of a better sports bra into a company with a flourishing product line (including tops and capri pants) that has attracted an increasing group of females who share a passion for helping women everywhere lead lives that exceed expectations.
From marathoners to CrossFit athletes to yogis, Handful products are praised by so many that the company has a team of “AmBADASSadors” who have inspiring and tear-jerking stories to share.
A fighter herself, Ferguson's path was not just sunshine and rainbows. “Entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart,” she says. “While running Handful, I have experienced an unexpected divorce, single motherhood, and luckily, a second-chance marriage to the love of my life, Erick Maihack.” Jennifer explains how the network of women around her have been a positive force not just for support, but also as a team of women passionately fighting against challenges from breast cancer to sport injuries to running a business.
It’s been 10 years since Cary’s cancer diagnosis. Cary recounts in a personal blog post, “Ten years ago I wondered if I would live to see the kindergarten bus come to get my daughters, who were aged one and four at the time of my unexpected late stage three breast cancer diagnosis. Not only did I get to see kindergarten come and go, but now I have a freshman in high school and another starting junior high, and I'm completely out of the brutal wilderness of active treatment, no longer taking so much as a single prescription drug to stave off cancer's return.” In the post, Cary recounts her experiences about “the trip to hell and back,” and how eye-opening the statistics for breast cancer truly are. She writes, “I have also experienced here at Handful the cruel twist of statistical fate when the one in eight women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime just so happen to be three out of the 24 women who work closest with us."
"Two of our sales reps and none other than our Director of Marketing, working tirelessly every day for a company that supports women with breast cancer…and then they get breast cancer!? It brings home just how prevalent this disease truly is and reminds us all that there will be many more among us who will face this same fate. We are here for you if the time ever comes for your number to be called, and we are counting on you to be there for the women in your circles to make sure you are there to support them because that’s what Handful women do. We support each other, no matter what life throws our way.”
As Director of Survivor Relations, Cary and Handful are proud to offer survivors the following:
Friends with Benefits — Handful is eligible for coverage through insurance if your local mastectomy provider carries us (tell them to carry us!)
Breast Friends Forever — Survivors who want to skip the insurance hassle are eligible for 30% off any full-price pocketed bra.
Flat and Fabulous — Survivors who have lost a breast to cancer and want to use Handful Lights Out™ Pad Sets as prosthetics get them for free with every bra purchased.
Handful donates a percentage of sales to the Young Survival Coalition, a premier organization dedicated to the critical issues unique to young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. It offers resources, connections and outreach so women feel supported, empowered and hopeful.
On a lighter note, Handful isn’t about engineering workout wear that will shave five seconds off your PR, nor is it about creating a lacy number for gettin’ lucky (although if you manage to do either or both because of their product, good for you sister!).
The brand is about making apparel that makes you happy. Happy because it fits perfectly and feels fantastic no matter what you’re doing. Happy because the women who designed them thought of all the details, leaving you with one less thing to worry about. And happy because, by buying a Handful, you buy into a lifetime membership to their sisterhood of sass. This is all in line with their popular tagline, “Flatter, Not Flatten.”
And because it’s Mother’s Day Month, it’s fitting to offer Moms and all women a bra that will make them smile and help them tackle the challenges life brings along the way. Handful is pleased to offer 15% off all orders with code: SWAAY. Help Handful celebrate this special day for women and raise a glass to the ta ta’s. With product names such as “Worth The Monet,” “Lizard of Ahs” and “Chocolate Kisses,” and a “Love Your Shelf” tank – you’ll feel empowered every time you put on their products.
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You may recognize Judge, Tanya Acker, from her political and legal commentary on different networks and shows like Good Morning America, The Talk, Wendy Williams, CNN Reports or The Insider. Acker is more than an experienced commentator. She is also a Judge on the fifth season of Emmy nominated CBS show, Hot Bench.
Acker's career has been built around key moments and professional experiences in her life.
The show, created by Judge Judy, is a new take on the court genre. Alongside Acker, are two other judges: Patricia DiMango and Michael Corriero. Together the three-panel judges take viewers inside the courtroom and into their chambers. “I feel like my responsibility on the show is, to be honest, fair, [and] to try and give people a just and equitable result," Acker says. She is accomplished, honest and especially passionate about her career. In fact, Acker likes the fact that she is able to help people solve problems. “I think that efficient ways of solving disputes are really at the core of modern life.
“We are a very diverse community [with] different values, backgrounds [and] beliefs. It's inevitable that we're going to find ourselves in some conflicts. I enjoy being a part of a process where you can help resolve the conflicts and diffuse them," she explains.
Acker's career has been built around key moments and professional experiences in her life. Particularly, her time working right after college impacted the type of legal work she takes on now.
Shaping Her Career
Acker didn't foresee doing this kind of work on television when she was in college at either Howard University or Yale Law. “I was really open in college about what would happen next," Acker comments. “In fact, I deliberately chose a major (English) that wouldn't lock me into anything [because] I wanted to keep all of my options open." Her inevitable success on the show and throughout her career is an example of that. In fact, after graduating from Yale, Acker served as a judicial law clerk to Judge Dorothy Nelson who sits on the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
It was not only her first job out of law school but also one of the formative experiences of her professional life. “[Judge Nelson is] certainly, if not my most important professional influence," Acker says. “She is really the living embodiment of justice, fairness, and believes in being faithful to the letter and the spirit of the law," she exclaims. “She delivers it all with a lot of love." Judge Nelson is still on the bench and is continuing to work through her Foundation: The Western Justice Center in Pasadena, California, where Acker serves on the board. The foundation helps people seeking alternative ways of resolving their disputes instead of going to court.
"I enjoy being a part of a process where you can help resolve the conflicts and diffuse them," she explains.
“It was important to her to try and create platforms for people to resolve conflict outside of court because court takes a long time," Acker explains. “I'm proud to be a part of that work and to sit on that board."
After her clerkship, she was awarded a Bristow Fellowship and continued building her career. Outside of the fellowship, Acker's legal work incorporated a broad variety of matters from civil litigation, constitutional cases, business counseling, and advising. One of her most memorable moments was representing a group of homeless people against the city. “They were being fought for vagrancy and our defense was, they had no place to go," she shares.
As part of her pro bono work, Acker was awarded the ACLU's First Amendment Award for her success with the case. Though, she has a hard time choosing from one of many memorable moments on Hot Bench. Acker does share a few of the things that matter to her. “Our show is really drawn from a cross-section of courtrooms across America and the chance to engage with such a diverse group of people really means a lot to me," she discusses.
How Did Acker Become A Judge?
In addition to Judge Nelson, Judge Judy is certainly among her top professional influences. “I think it's incredible [and] I feel very lucky that my professional career has been bookended by these incredible judges," she acclaims. “I've really learned a lot from Judy about this job, doing this kind of job on television." Before Acker was selected for Hot Bench, she hadn't been a judge. It was Judge Judy who recommended that she get some experience. Acker briefly comments on her first experience as a temporary judge on a volunteer basis in traffic court. “I was happy to be able to have the chance to kind of get a feel for it before we started doing the show," she comments. “Judy is a wonderful, kind, generous person [and] she's taught me quite a lot. I feel lucky."
Photo Courtesy of Annie Shak.
Acker's Time Away From Home
Outside of Hot Bench, Acker took recent trips to Haiti and Alabama. They were memorable and meaningful.
Haiti, in particular, was the first trip she excitedly talks about. She did some work there in an orphanage as part of LOVE Takes Root, an organization that is driven to help children around the world whether it's basic aid or education. “Haiti has a special place in my heart," she began. “As a person who's descended from enslaved people, I have a lot of honor and reverence for a country that threw off the shackles of slavery."
She was intrigued by the history of Haiti. Especially regarding the communities, corrupt government and natural disasters. “They really had to endure a lot, but I tell you this when I was there, I saw people who were more elegant, dignified, gracious and generous as any group of people I've ever met anywhere in the world," she goes on. “I think it left me with was a strong sense of how you can be graceful and elegant under fire." Acker is optimistic about the country's overall growth and success.
“[Judge Nelson is] certainly, if not my most important professional influence," Acker says. “She is really the living embodiment of justice, fairness, and believes in being faithful to the letter and the spirit of the law."
“There are certainly times when people treated me differently or made assumptions about me because I was a black woman," Acker says. “I've got it much better, but that doesn't mean it's perfect...it certainly isn't, but you just have to keep it moving."
Her other trip was different in more ways than one. She traveled there for the first time with her mother as part of a get out to vote effort, that Alabama's First black House Minority Leader, Anthony Daniels was organizing. “It was incredible to take that trip with her [and] I've got to tell you, the South of today is not the South of my mother's upbringing," she explains. Originally from Mississippi, Acker's mother hasn't been back in the South since 1952. “Every place has a ways to go, but it was a really exciting trip [and] it was nice for me to connect with that part of the country and that part of my history."
Overcoming Racial Barriers
As a black woman, Acker has certainly faced challenges based on her race and gender. But it doesn't define who she is or what she can accomplish. “There are certainly times when people treated me differently or made assumptions about me because I was a black woman," she says. “There's no sort of barrier that someone would attempt to impose upon me that they didn't attempt to impose on my mother, grandmother or great-grandmother." In a space where disparity is sometimes apparent, she recognizes that there is no barrier someone would try to impose on her that they didn't attempt to impose on her mother or grandmothers. “I've got it much better, but that doesn't mean it's perfect...it certainly isn't, but you just have to keep it moving," Acker states. The conversation continues truthfully and seriously. Acker shares what it can be like for black women, specifically. “I think we're underestimated and we can be disrespected, whereas other folks are allowed the freedom to enjoy a full range of emotions and feelings," she articulates.
At times black women are often restricted from expressing themselves. “If someone wants to make an assumption or jump to a conclusion about me because of my race or gender, that's on them, but their assumptions aren't going to define me," Acker declares. “If something makes me angry or happy I will express that and if someone wants to caricature me, that's their pigeonholing; that's not my problem." A lifelong lesson she learned and shared is to not let other people define who you are. It is one of three bits of wisdom.
Three Pieces Of Advice From Judge Acker
The Power Of Self-awareness
“It's really important that you have a really firm sense of what you want to do and be, and how you're moving in the world because when people try to sway you, judge you or steer you off course you've got to have some basis for getting back on track."
Know Your Support System
“Have a strong community of people who you trust, love and who love you," she advises. “But also learn to love and trust yourself because sometimes it's your own voice that can provide you the most comfort or solace in something."
Learn From Your Experiences
“Trust yourself. Take care of yourself. Don't be too hard on yourself. Be honest with yourself.
“There are times when it's not enough to say this is who I am. Take it or leave it. Sometimes we've got things that we need to work on, change or improve upon," she concludes.
Acker stands out not only because of her accomplishments, but the way she views certain aspects of her life. These days, she's comfortable accepting what makes her different. “I think there's a time when you're younger when conformity feels comfortable, [but] I'm comfortable these days not conforming," she laughs. She enjoys being a decision maker and helping people work through it on Hot Bench.
This article was originally published May 15, 2019.