The Story Behind Our Thrive Gang Brand
It all started back at the Cheesecake Factory (yes, the Cheesecake Factory!) in the late 90s. That’s where we first met, right out of high school, working our way through college in Woodland Hills not far from Los Angeles. We’ve been best friends ever since.
About 10 years ago, Stephanie (31 years young at the time) was diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer, out of nowhere! No family history, no real experience with cancer at all. Never in a million years were we anticipating this news. We were busy living our best lives, Amanda was planning a wedding; Stephanie’s career as a teacher was blossoming.
Overnight, Stephanie was thrust into making the most important decisions of her life, with a diagnosis she had no knowledge of or much information about. Back then, there weren’t many resources for young women with breast cancer, let alone a stage 4 diagnosis. Google was terrifying, support groups weren’t very supportive and to top it off, being Latina and not “looking sick,” Stephanie didn’t feel like she fit in anywhere within the breast cancer community.
Yet, despite her grim survival statistics, a misdiagnosis and multiple surgeries, Stephanie has defied all odds and is still thriving almost a decade later. Amanda has been by her side every step of the way and knows what it’s like to be what we refer to as a ‘Co-Thriver.’ Stephanie wouldn’t be who and where she was today without Amanda’s relentless support though it all.
Throughout the years of being submerged in the breast cancer community, we came to realize that we weren’t the stereotypical ‘pink ribbon’ Thriver and Co-Thriver. Nothing resonated with us, whether it was the ads, non-profit literature, etc. In addition, we could never find something that we wanted to wear to support and represent the cause and Amanda could never figure out what to gift Stephanie to show her support that she would actually wear and use. This made us both really start to think about, “What do you give someone who is just diagnosed with or who is fighting cancer?”
We couldn’t find it, so we said, “‘F’ it, let’s make it ourselves.” Our dream since we were 18 years old was to start a brand or open a store together because we always had such similar style and loved fashion, primarily inspired by our hometown of Los Angeles. Recognizing this need for more modern attire and gifts in this whole crazy world of cancer, coupled with the frustration of not finding gifts that resonated with us and looked like us, Thrive Gang was born! We started to create unique and meaningful gifts to encourage those on their journeys. Gifts that are inspirational, practical, and items that actually can be incorporated into one’s existing wardrobe. We design and hand-make inspirational products to give someone going through any adversity. We want our products to empower Thrivers and help people support their loved ones.
In addition to aiming to fill a need for “cooler” gifts and merchandise in the cancer community, creating community and a safe place to feel like less of an anomaly is a huge priority of ours. Stephanie once felt like she was the only young woman who had breast cancer, let alone a stage 4 diagnosis. Through her blog and advocacy however, she learned that there were unfortunately so many other young women in her shoes. And there are so many specific and unique challenges that young thrivers (especially young thrivers of colour) are faced with…lack of resources and support for topics such as fertility, dating, early menopause, stopping your career when it’s just getting started, to name a few. Creating a platform for others to not feel alone was priority. We aim to share inspiring stories, provide valuable and relatable information while maintaining a youthful and upbeat vibe. Our goal is to keep growing and expanding and inspiring.
Entrepreneurship has been a journey in and of itself and boy has it had its own fair share of ups and downs. It hasn’t been easy to build and run a company, just the two of us. But one thing we have learned from Stephanie’s diagnosis, is that giving up isn’t an option. We press forward and figure out what needs to be figured out. Stephanie is still a full-time patient and advocate, navigating her diagnosis while being a stepmom and committed partner and Amanda is a full-time mom to two incredible daughters and a wife. And then there’s Thrive Gang! We pour so much of our hearts and souls into our company every single day. We have learned so much and grown so much as business partners and friends and believe in the future of our brand.
We are so grateful for all of the support we have received, and are committed to working to see all of our ideas and visions for Thrive Gang come to fruition. Check out our products and blog and join our GANG and THRIVE!
XO – Amanda and Stephanie