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.
In 2016, I finally found my voice. I always thought I had one, especially as a business owner and mother of two vocal toddlers, but I had been wrong.
For more than 30 years, I had been struggling with the fear of being my true self and speaking my truth. Then the repressed memories of my childhood sexual abuse unraveled before me while raising my 3-year-old daughter, and my life has not been the same since.
Believe it or not, I am happy about that.
The journey for a survivor like me to feel even slightly comfortable sharing these words, without fear of being shamed or looked down upon, is a long and often lonely one. For all of the people out there in the shadows who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I dedicate this to you. You might never come out to talk about it and that's okay, but I am going to do so here and I hope that in doing so, I will open people's eyes to the long-term effects of abuse. As a survivor who is now fully conscious of her abuse, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, quite frankly, it may never go away.
It took me some time to accept that and I refuse to let it stop me from thriving in life; therefore, I strive to manage it (as do many others with PTSD) through various strategies I've learned and continue to learn through personal and group therapy. Over the years, various things have triggered my repressed memories and emotions of my abuse--from going to birthday parties and attending preschool tours to the Kavanaugh hearing and most recently, the"Leaving Neverland" documentary (I did not watch the latter, but read commentary about it).
These triggers often cause panic attacks. I was angry when I read Barbara Streisand's comments about the men who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them, as detailed in the documentary. She was quoted as saying, "They both married and they both have children, so it didn't kill them." She later apologized for her comments. I was frustrated when one of the senators questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (during the Kavanaugh hearing) responded snidely that Dr. Ford was still able to get her Ph.D. after her alleged assault--as if to imply she must be lying because she gained success in life.We survivors are screaming to the world, "You just don't get it!" So let me explain: It takes a great amount of resilience and fortitude to walk out into society every day knowing that at any moment an image, a sound, a color, a smell, or a child crying could ignite fear in us that brings us back to that moment of abuse, causing a chemical reaction that results in a panic attack.
So yes, despite enduring and repressing those awful moments in my early life during which I didn't understand what was happening to me or why, decades later I did get married; I did become a parent; I did start a business that I continue to run today; and I am still learning to navigate this "new normal." These milestones do not erase the trauma that I experienced. Society needs to open their eyes and realize that any triumph after something as ghastly as childhood abuse should be celebrated, not looked upon as evidence that perhaps the trauma "never happened" or "wasn't that bad. "When a survivor is speaking out about what happened to them, they are asking the world to join them on their journey to heal. We need love, we need to feel safe and we need society to learn the signs of abuse and how to prevent it so that we can protect the 1 out of 10 children who are being abused by the age of 18. When I state this statistic at events or in large groups, I often have at least one person come up to me after and confide that they too are a survivor and have kept it a secret. My vehicle for speaking out was through the novella The Survivors Club, which is the inspiration behind a TV pilot that my co-creator and I are pitching as a supernatural, mind-bending TV series. Acknowledging my abuse has empowered me to speak up on behalf of innocent children who do not have a voice and the adult survivors who are silent.
Remembering has helped me further understand my young adult challenges,past risky relationships, anger issues, buried fears, and my anxieties. I am determined to thrive and not hide behind these negative things as they have molded me into the strong person I am today.Here is my advice to those who wonder how to best support survivors of sexual abuse:Ask how we need support: Many survivors have a tough exterior, which means the people around them assume they never need help--we tend to be the caregivers for our friends and families. Learning to be vulnerable was new for me, so I realized I needed a check-off list of what loved ones should ask me afterI had a panic attack.
The list had questions like: "Do you need a hug," "How are you feeling," "Do you need time alone."Be patient with our PTSD". Family and close ones tend to ask when will the PTSD go away. It isn't a cold or a disease that requires a finite amount of drugs or treatment. There's no pill to make it miraculously disappear, but therapy helps manage it and some therapies have been known to help it go away. Mental Health America has a wealth of information on PTSD that can help you and survivors understand it better. Have compassion: When I was with friends at a preschool tour to learn more about its summer camp, I almost fainted because I couldn't stop worrying about my kids being around new teenagers and staff that might watch them go the bathroom or put on their bathing suit. After the tour, my friends said,"Nubia, you don't have to put your kids in this camp. They will be happy doing other things this summer."
In that moment, I realized how lucky I was to have friends who understood what I was going through and supported me. They showed me love and compassion, which made me feel safe and not judged.