It’s 6am. I hop in the shower, throw on my robe, start the battle of getting kids up; they are dressed, teeth brushed, hair done, lunches made, breakfast eaten and out the door by 7:20. Within that hour and 20 minutes, do you know what my biggest stressor is? BOOB SWEAT! Yes, you read that right. Boob sweat. Any woman who lives in Texas, or any other warm state, knows exactly what I am talking about.
My name is Allison Schickel and I am an Austin Mom. I am also the creator of the Brobe – a Bra + Robe combination designed specifically for women. Never in a million years did I think I would be in the “Boob Business” but you know what? Life is unpredictable! I guess I just think that if fate gives you lemons – you make lemonade, and then you find someone whose life gave them wine and you become friends.
Ten years ago I was a bright-eyed, 24 year-old newlywed and I was pregnant with our first child. After our daughter, Mackenzie, was born my husband and I faced a life-changing diagnosis: he became chronically sick with kidney failure. My plans of being a stay-at-home mom evaporated and I re-entered the workforce. I was young – I had a newborn and a sick husband at home and I became the sole provider for my family. No job was too meager, it was my priority to help carry the financial weight of our new and struggling family. From managing an office, to waiting tables, to serving as an administrative assistant, to being a makeup artist – I spent five years, often juggling three jobs simultaneously, while caring for a newborn and a sick husband. Choices like dinner or an electric bill were not rare dilemmas. In hindsight, it does not escape me that this tumultuous time before my husband passed away was shaping my work ethic and fortifying me for future challenges. I was just trying to get by.
The Brobe was born out of the frustration of dealing with a horror best known as “boob sweat”. After conception, this idea quickly transformed into a product with a mission and a purpose. The Brobe is simple in design and function: it is a robe with a built in bra. After wearing my prototype for a couple years, an encounter with a friend re-shaped the purpose of The Brobe. She had undergone a double mastectomy and three reconstructive surgeries from breast cancer. It wasn’t until after speaking with my friend, and hearing about her experience, that I fully understood the difficulties of finding a post-op garment that was functional, comfortable, and most importantly – feminine. She showed me the ‘gown’ she was given to wear after her surgery from the hospital and I was mortified. Women fighting breast cancer deserve dignity and support during an otherwise traumatic time. That’s how the Recovery Brobe was born.
While The Brobe features the built in bra, the Recovery Brobe features much more. The built-in pockets for post-op drains provide women with one of the first functional garments for after a lumpectomy or mastectomy. The built-in bra fastens with Velcro and contains pockets shaped specifically for a prosthetic breast and/or ice packs. The best part? The fabric. It is soft, comfortable, and it gives women the confidence and dignity that is often stolen during their battle.
After researching what was available to women in recovery, I found the options to be less than impressive. I took it upon myself to find a solution. I contacted a local seamstress and we partnered together to design a pattern and sew prototypes of The Brobe. Susan G. Komen was our next big connection. They loved the design, purpose, and beauty. The Executive Director of Marketing exhibited the Recovery Brobe to a group of women who had had single mastectomies. As one woman tried them on, tears welled up in her eyes and she said to me, “this makes me very sad for all the women who have not had this in the past. You have to make these garments.” I knew then, and there, that The Brobe was going to be launched into production and I charged full speed ahead.
With the success the Recovery Brobe was experiencing among women fighting breast cancer, a new group of women started voicing their opinion for what they wanted. Nursing mothers were craving a functional and comfortable robe to make nursing newborns in the hospital and at home much more manageable.The Mommy Brobe was launched in 2013. Designed with a detachable nursing bra, this robe has gained quite the following.
From the original Brobe, to the Recovery Brobe, to the Mommy Brobe, our product is constantly evolving to fit women in their various stages of life. Our projected growth will take The Brobe into a full clothing line to include nightgowns, pajamas, lingerie, tank tops, active apparel, and swimwear.
It has been 6 years since my first husband passed away. My strength has been built on the tears, the struggles, and the prayers that pushed me through my earlier years. I am the product of my experiences, both personally and professionally. My attitude is the very definition of positive and I embrace gratitude on a daily basis. Perseverance, humility, and selflessness are all attributes that have helped create and shape The Brobe into a product that will change and better the lives of those who wear it.
I am remarried now; he is my best friend, my rock, and my biggest fan. My oldest daughter, Mackenzie, is now 12 and we have another 2-year-old daughter, Monya. Life has taught me to not spend one minute working for something I do not believe in. I believe in The Brobe. My passion is to see The Brobe bringing joy and blessings to women everywhere.
My daughters are a daily reminder that we, as women and mothers, have to stand united and empower one another. Life is a mystery, lemons or wine – you make the most out of what you’re given.
Sponsored By: The Brobe