Carl H. Lindner College of BusinessCarl H. Lindner College of BusinessUniversity of Cincinnati

Carl H. Lindner College of Business

October Update- UC Grad Launches Company Redesigns Aspect of Breast Cancer Survivors Recovery

Wednesday, October 11, 2017 8:24 AM
A University of Cincinnati graduate is changing the way women recover from the trials of breast cancer.

Inspired by her own mother’s battle, Megan Sullivan designed a women’s clothing collection — With Grace B. Bold — that aims to stylishly conceal the surgical drainage system that many breast cancer survivors have to wear during their post-hospital recovery.

Sullivan, who graduated from UC’s College of Design, Art, Architecture and Planning, first with a B.S. in Fashion Design Product Development in 2015 and then with a Master’s degree in design the following year, was led to her concept during her third year as an undergraduate. Megan became passionate about the issue in 2001, when her mother was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer that spread to her lymph nodes.

“Her surgery and recovery were extremely strenuous,” Sullivan said. “I decided — in what seemed to be an epiphany moment — that I wanted to dedicate my career and life to helping women throughout this time [when] their self-identity and ‘style’ seem completely diminished.”

Sullivan noted that part of her collection will feature garments that remove the drain pocket so the longevity of the brand is emphasized. She also plans to have a “give-back” program in place to ensure that all women have the opportunity to wear the collection.

“I like to emphasize that With Grace B. Bold is not a recovery brand; it is a designer collection targeted to a niche market of women, with products in place that allow women who haven’t personally experienced a diagnosis [of] breast cancer to support the brand,” Sullivan said.

Through professional mentorship and a grant from the Fealy Bearcat Bridge Fund, Sullivan’s company was founded with support from the StartupUC Student Incubator.

Through this UC-based incubator program, students have the ability to cultivate their business during the ideation phase, work with professional mentors, and progress into the launching and funding phases. There are several methods to receive funding through the CEC, as well as opportunities to participate in professional, larger-scale incubator and accelerator programs within the Cincinnati community.

Wendy Lea, CEO of Cintrifuse and matriarch of the #StartupCincy ecosystem, said she was overcome by gratitude when she heard Sullivan’s story.

“Not only am I invigorated by her story of determination in the face of personal trial, but I am also inspired by her entrepreneurial spirit,” Lea said. “Megan’s determination to turn challenge into conquest is the exact kind of story I strive to tell about innovators in Cincinnati. When I see a blossom like Megan, I’m excited to see our mission in action.”

Nancy Aichholz, CEO and President of Aviatra Accelerators, is another prominent voice for female entrepreneurs in the Cincinnati community.

“At Aviatra Accelerators, we see a lot of female entrepreneurs with intriguing ideas and concepts,” Aichholz said. “Successful women founders typically give birth to their ideas out of a strong desire to solve a real problem. Megan has done just that, and in a beautiful, meaningful way. We need more women like Megan in our region to address growing health issues [and] health care needs. We are seeing more and more women tackling these tough issues with technology and manufacturing solutions.”

The Kickstarter campaign for With Grace B. Bold is set to launch October 1, kicking off Breast Cancer Awareness Month in style. Support this UC entrepreneur by checking out her Kickstarter page or making a donation.

In addition, be sure to learn more about the StartupUC Student Incubator.