A Daughter’s Caring Creates A Gem of an Idea
By Margaret Jaworski
When Stephanie Hansen first learned that her mother, Sue, had breast cancer, she struggled to control her emotions, to stay calm and project strength. “I wanted to be brave for her.” Stephanie says.
As the family, including her sister and father, rallied around her mother, Stephanie searched for a piece of jewelry, something simple yet stylish that the Hansen women could wear as a symbol of their close bond and their determination to be brave.
Throughout the summer of 2011, as she drove from Austin to Houston to visit her mother and to the hospital after her mother’s mastectomy, Stephanie said those words over and over. Be brave became her mantra. These two small words all of seven letter’s kept Stephanie going and inspired her to create what she couldn’t find.
Less than a year after her mother’s diagnosis and successful treatment, Stephanie launched Bravelets, her collection of cause-related bracelets for men and women. The online store opened in January of 2012, with one design, ten causes and ten colors. Fifteen months later, Bravelets are available in three designs and 21 colors representing 80 causes. Each Bravelet costs $35.00 and each is engraved with the word, “Be Brave.”
Sharing the message
“We are all trying to be brave for those we love and for ourselves,” says Stephanie. That’s the common thread that binds together the 25,000+ people that have already purchased a bracelet. People like Beth Cavazos who purchased hers in purple to honor her mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s six years ago. Her father was diagnosed this year. “My Bravelet is a constant reminder to be brave and carry on,” Beth wrote on the company website.
People like Derek Chalmers who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2003 and this month is participating in Bike MS, a 2 day, 180-mile ride to raise money for the disease. “I may not be able to walk any great distance because of pain and balance problems, but I can ride,” he wrote, adding, “You have to be brave & stay brave.”
From the start, “giving back was a core principle of the company,” says Stephanie, now 26. She decided to donate $10.00 of the $35.00 of every bracelet sold to the associated charity. As of this month, Bravelets donations hit $250,000. It’s a remarkable achievement for Stephanie. “The causes are very important to me,” she says. So is giving people a chance to tell and share their stories with others.
In June, Stephanie plans to expand the jewelry line, adding a necklace made of sterling silver as well gold plated ones and is adding designs to the men’s line. She’s hoping to expand sales beyond her website and is reaching out to brick and mortar shops. And more than anything, she makes sure that everyone with a story to tell feels comfortable enough to share his or her story with the Bravelets community. .