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.
I have always been in love with all things art- I was obsessed with drawing and painting before I was even walking. In high school, I started a career selling art through various gallery art shows and on Etsy. I then went on to study fine arts at the University of Southern California, with an emphasis in painting, but took classes in ceramics, printmaking, cinema and architecture to get a really well-rounded education on all sorts of art.
During my senior year of college, my career path went through a huge transition; I started my own temporary tattoo brand, INKED by Dani, which is a brand of temporary tattoos based on my hand-drawn fine art designs.
The idea for the brand came one night after a themed party at college. My friends, knowing how much I loved drawing, asked me to cover them in hand-drawn doodles using eyeliner. The feedback from that night was overwhelming, everyone my friends saw that night was obsessed with the designs. In that moment, a lightbulb went off in my head... I could do some completely unique here and create chic temporary tattoos with an art-driven aesthetic, unlike anything else on the market. Other temporary tattoo brands were targeted to kids or lacked a sleek and millennial-driven look. It was a perfect pivot; I could utilize my fine arts training and tattoos as a new art medium to create a completely innovative brand.
Using the money I made from selling my artwork throughout high school and college, I funded the launch of INKED by Dani. I had always loved the look of dainty tattoos, but knew I could never commit to the real thing, and I knew my parents would kill me if I got a tattoo (I also knew that so many girls must have that same conflict). Starting INKED by Dani was a no-brainer.
I started off with a collection of about only 10 designs and sold them at sorority houses around USC. Our unique concept for on-trend and fashion-forward tattoos was spreading through word of mouth, and we quickly started growing an Instagram following. I was hustling all day from my room, cold calling retailers, sending blind samples and tons of emails, and trying to open up as many opportunities as I could.
Now, we're sold at over 10,000 retail locations (retailers include Target, Walmart, Urban Outfitters, Forever 21 and Hot Topic), and we've transformed temporary tattoos into a whole new form of wearable art.
My 4 best tips for starting your own business are:
- Just go with your gut! You'll never know what works until you try it. Go day by day and do everything in your power to work toward your goals. Be bold, but be sure to be thoughtful in your actions.
- Research your competitors and other successful brands in your category to determine how you can make your product stand out. Figure out where there is a need or hole in the market that your new offering or approach can fill.
- Don't spread yourself too thin. Delegate where possible, and stay focused each day on doing the best and most you can. Don't get too caught up in your end goal or the big picture to a point where it overwhelms or freezes you. You're already making a bold move to start something new, so try to prioritize what's important! I started off in the beginning hand packing every single tattoo pack that we sold and shipped. If I wanted to scale to align with the level of demand we were receiving, I needed to make the pivot to mass produce and relinquish the control of doing every step myself. I am a total perfectionist, so that was definitely hard! From that point on, overseeing production has been a huge part of my daily schedule, but by doing so I've been able to free up more time to focus on design, merchandising, and sales, allowing me to really focus on growing the business.
- Prioritize great product packaging and branding. It's so important to invest time in customer experience- how customers view and interact with your product. The packaging is just as important as the actual product inside! When we were starting off, we had high demand, and I definitely jumped the gun a bit on packaging so we could deliver product to the retailers when they wanted it. Since then, we've completely revamped the packaging into something upscale and unique that reflects what the brand is all about. Our product packaging is always called out as being one of our retailers' and customers' favorite part of our product!