Jean Criss - Founder, Designer & soon to be 10-year Survivor this summer! Learn about her inspiring story and the new Collection. There is so much more to follow - designs for every stage and phase of post-recovery for women and men. Don't let cancer get the BREAST of you!
Jean's Survivor Story
"In July, 2007, I was one of those eight women diagnosed with Breast Cancer while on vacation with my family, watching Robin Roberts of ABC News, tell the World about her diagnosis. Mom and I began to cry, thinking about Nina (her loving sister and my dear Aunt) who passed not long ago from Stage IV malignant breast cancer after fighting her battle after 10 tragic years. Ironically, that same day, I got a call from the Radiology Department requesting I return for additional digital breast films -- a preliminary diagnosis was made after my annual mammogram. I worried terribly over the next 2 weeks until I returned home to receive additional MRI and sonogram, before my final diagnosis..."Jean you have bi-lateral breast cancer". To my shock and dismay, it's so true 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed every day with breast cancer in their lifetime in the U.S., that's 1 diagnosis every 2 minutes, and we need your help find a cure. My goal since then became to share my story, to design improved post-op undergarments, and empower Survivors to Feel Confident and Look Beautiful throughout their journey. I hope you like the CRISSCROSS Intimate Apparel Collection. There is so much more to follow." All the breast, Jean
Learn more about 'My 2nd Act' story published in NOU Magazine for Women Survivors! (April 2016). Jean Criss’ 10-year Survivor Story will be premiere in NOU Magazine’s Commemorative Print Edition at SURVIVORville (Nashville, TN, July 2017).
They say it takes a village to launch a company or a product and I've been fortunate to have been coached and advised by the very best across multiple industries. CRISSCROSS started in my living room -- and I've purposefully kept my business small in a scrappy start-up sort of way. I got my hands wet and dry. I became intensively involved in every aspect of the business from innovation to design, illustration, branding, partnering, manufacturing, operations, research, marketing, sales, distribution, and so on. It's certainly a different game when you're launching a company from the ground up but I had the fortune to draw upon my 25 years in media, management, high-tech sales and marketing. Without this business foundation, and the inspiration I got as a Breast Cancer Survivor, confidence as an inspiring new Author, sharing my personal story, allowed me to reach this new career plateau.
I was so proud and excited to show my first prototype Bra at a runway Fashion Show at a SoHo gallery on October 30, 2014 during Breast Cancer Awareness month to friends, family and colleagues in the Breast Cancer & Healthcare communities, and with my newly acquainted, Intimate Apparel colleagues. The Bra received rave reviews from Survivors and Plastic Surgeons alike as I tested it in the marketplace! Much has happened since then. I gained approvals from the USPTO on my Utility and Design Patents, and further enhanced the design and the technology behind the designs, and finished creating the entire collection. Now, I'm thrilled and honored to announce the premiere launch of the CRISSCROSS Intimates Collection (April 2017) with intentions to launch the week of Aunt Nina's former birthday.
I learned many things about myself during this journey -- how to be resourceful, how to pivot quickly, how to stay positively inspired each and every day, no matter what. I must admit, I knew how to navigate my way thru new industries and network top down. For me, I learned it was quite easy, calling on Top execs and Docs, new Brands, navigating my way around a brand new industry-- the Fashion world, attending fashion trade shows, visiting local boutiques and specialty stores, listening to survivor stories, fitting survivors and more. I even wrote about advanced technology solutions for breast health and wellness while developing my brand. Then I moved onward to qualify the best business partners to execute the right 'breast' relationships for my brand. Those that didn't make the cut got the 'pink' slip and those that made it are my true pride and joy. While pink has never been one of my favorite colors, pink is the known color in the industry for breast cancer and I also tipped into my crazy sexy cancer colorful world of creativity for inspiration.
I welcome you to join me on my journey. If you are interested to carry the Collection, please contact me. I welcome invitations to speak or chat with your organizations or to share my Survivor Story insights with your teams. If you are also interested to learn about the incubator process I experienced as a new start-up business entering the Fashion industry, I'd love to share that story too. I have truly enjoyed this ride and look forward to the next wave.
A note to all breast cancer patients and survivors, my message to you is "don't EVER forget how strong you are. And don't forget that our experiences -- the good, the bad, and the painful -- make us wiser, stronger and more resourceful." I endured numerous surgeries during my post-surgical recovery -- from bilateral lumpectomy with radiation to bilateral mastectomy with reconstructive surgery, followed by four implant replacement surgeries in a very short 18-month window. I contracted a flesh eating bacterial skin disease (MRSA) and found myself stuck in a hospital isolation ward for ten long days where I then began to document my medical journey. I had numerous incidents of breast cellulitis, another form of MRSA, breast fat graph... and you name it - I've experienced it. Now I continue to live a healthy "breastful" life with six-month check-ups, soon to be a ten-year survivor this July 2017.
My physicians often reminded me, "Jean, you are one in a million!" partly because of the scientific odds of having to experience ALL of this tragedy and, partly, because of my determination to live and turn this experience into a positive end story. In fact, one of my Plastic Surgeons honored me with the Patients of Courage: Triumph Over Adversity award by the American Society of Plastic Surgeons and I am proud to recently receive 5 CME Breast Cancer Management accredited certificates from Columbia University, College of Physicians & Surgeons. I wrote my journey in BLISS! - one chapter documented about my Million Dollar Boobs and believe me, I didn't feel like the million dollar gal! Since that saga continued for four long years after all those post-op surgeries, I thought it would never end. So my last chapter in BLISS is called the 'Pursuit of Happiness' and describes how I moved forward with my professional and personal life. I just call it BLISS!
But, you know what? Because of this journey and because of what I experienced, I learned a lot about breast cancer, recovery, a healthy lifestyle and myself -- CRISSCROSS now comes to fruition!