Welcome to the "girliest lingerie boutique on the planet," Cherry Blossom Intimates. That's according to the Glenarden, MD shop's CEO, Jasmine Jones, the force behind this unique shop since 2018. The walls are lined with row after row of stylish, colorful, intimate pieces, and the bras are available in just about every size imaginable — from A cup to O cup and bands 28 to 56.
Plus, there's a twist: Cherry Blossom has a focus on making breast cancer survivors feel pampered, as it doubles as a fully accredited medical facility, staffed with an in-house team of certified mastectomy fitters to properly fit women, post-surgery, with customizable breast prosthetics and bras.
“We complete hundreds of hours of training and then when you come out of that, you're now able to fit breast cancer survivors,” Jones explains. “Our breast prosthetics are offered in 36 different skin tones so that a woman can choose her color just like she chooses her foundation shade in a makeup store.”
Having options is among the many reasons why Jones, who in 2019 landed on Forbes "30 Under 30" list in the Retail and e-commerce category, had decided to flex her entrepreneurial muscle and launch the business the year before.
“My grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer before I was born and she passed away when I was in my sophomore year of college, so before the business was created,” Jones tells Yahoo Life. “I remember my grandmother's shopping experience for post-mastectomy bras and prosthetics. It was always inside of a medical supply store. She deserved a better experience than that.”
Empowering women and giving them the choices her grandmother didn’t have is a source of inspiration for Jones, who earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Entrepreneurship from Trinity Washington University. “It's really fun to watch them recreate their breasts. It sort of helps them to reclaim their femininity,” she says of her customers who have opted out of post-mastectomy reconstruction surgery.
Jones and her business partner, general surgery specialist Dr. Regina Hampton, met at a breast cancer walk and later decided to join forces, with Hampton directing her mastectomy patients to the new safe space to shop, where they’d feel confident and sexy.
Pre-pandemic, Cherry Blossom Intimates was quickly acquiring in-store fans. But the shutdown last spring forced Jones to rethink the business model. Lucky for her, it was a move that paid off for the small business, and will continue to do so in the very near future.
“We were able to really pivot and become successful through COVID by launching a virtual-care service. We use Zoom. It involves a really great measuring tape. It involves some A.I. and some technology,” Jones says. “We started sending these items directly to the doorstep of our patients and we're able to narrow it down to get the perfect fit. They were able to appreciate not having to venture out of their homes, because so many of them are immunocompromised.”
To keep competitors at bay, Jones is tight-lipped about any more specific details about the technology. But she was excited to share that since last October, Cherry Blossom Intimates is now a Techstars-backed company, explaining, "I closed my seed round of $1.25 million," which adds Jones to a short list of Black women, worldwide, to raise over $1 million in venture funding.
Also in the works for the growing business is a subscription-based box plan and pop-up experiences in other locations, so women can touch and feel the custom prosthetics before ordering them — plus a line of post-mastectomy bras that Jones is designing.
“I won the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Design Entrepreneur Program award, which is $75,000 to start my own line," she says. "So that collection will be out soon.”
Funded by a small business administration loan, a few award winnings and her personal piggy bank, Jones says that even during "hard times," she was never ready to give up on her business, and that any growing pains were worth it. “Our business has hit six figures," she notes. "It pays for itself month to month, which is great, and it allows us a financial comfort to be able to expand.”
But, she adds, "The most rewarding part of my business is seeing how happy and confident women are when they walk out of our fitting rooms,” recalling that her grandmother didn’t have that same experience. “I wish she was here to see it. So many of my customers remind me of my grandmother. Like they have incredible spirit, so I kind of feel like the legacy lives through this boutique."
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