Beauty of Change
WITH KEIRA KOTLER
I got a chance introduction to Keira Kotler, the founder of Everviolet, through my friend Nicole, who shared her story with me and said “you will LOVE Keira and what she is up to!”
She was right. A breast cancer survivor, Keira designs gorgeous lingerie specifically for women on the healing journey… women who are reclaiming their femininity, discovering their strength and seeking beauty in times of change.
As I am also a survivor, I had the feeling that our first conversation would be a passionate one, and it was – about living a vibrant life, inspiring each other and promoting wellness, worthiness and self through business that sees and celebrates how precious we are, in whatever stage we are.
When I was recovering from my lumpectomy, choices for lingerie were extremely limited. I wasn’t quite sure if I would ever feel whole and beautiful again. I am so thankful to know that Keira, and Everviolet are there, holding space for our stories, and ready to nurture our bodies and our sense of self through beautiful lingerie that offers us, as she says “a different answer to this intimate question.”
Keira in her studio, photos by © Everviolet, Inc.
Why did you start your company?
Following my breast cancer diagnosis and surgery, I never would have believed that getting dressed in the morning would become one of my greatest challenges, but it was. Post-operative undergarments were synthetic, scratchy and unattractive, and I no longer fit into the pieces I wore prior to my mastectomy. It honestly felt like adding insult to injury. Not only had I lost a huge piece of my femininity, I was now experiencing ongoing discomfort and pain, and feeling like someone other than myself. For a while, I thought it was just me (I’ve always adored fashion and been aesthetically-oriented) or that I was being superficial (read: I was cancer-free – what did I have to complain about?). But there was something about going through breast cancer that made me want to adorn my body with something beautiful, soft and gentle – to offer love to a part of my body that had endured loss.
It wasn’t until I started speaking with other women that I realized how universal this issue was. Even women who were decades-long survivors were still manually pulling wires out of their old bras or cutting into garments in order to make them work. After the idea struck that maybe there was a business opportunity here, I spent over a year conducting interviews with women through in-home focus groups and online surveys. And what I learned, aside from the distinct lack of comfortable, sustainable and beautiful lingerie in the market, was that this struggle went far beyond clothing. For those lucky enough to be able to emerge from a cancer diagnosis, the difference between experiencing ongoing pain vs. ease was the difference between feeling like a patient and feeling like a person –a barrier to emotional and psychological healing. It was upon this realization that I vowed to pay my good prognosis forward and solve this problem for other women.
Shaunell and Keira, photo by © Kreate Photography and © Tana Gandhi
How did you come to choose the name “Everviolet” for your company?
As an artist, my painting and photography explores color theory and the impact of color on our internal states. Violet, particularly our signature color mauve, is a soft, neutral tone that inspires presence of mind, spirituality and inner peace. Our name Everviolet is a play on “evergreen” – a strong, elegant tree that stands tall and withstands the toughest storms – but instead of green, we use violet to represent inner beauty shining outward.
photo by © Everviolet, Inc. and © Tana Gandhi
What does “Beauty of Change” mean to you as it relates to your journey? To your business?
Change is the one thing in life we can count on, the one thing that’s guaranteed to occur. When someone faces illness or other life-altering situations, we’re given a choice as to how to respond to or transform from them. BEAUTY OF CHANGE® is about acknowledging the things have been altered and simultaneously celebrating the strength and grace we harness in order to get through those times. It’s about discovering parts of ourselves that we might not otherwise have seen had we not been challenged. And it’s about honoring who we are on the inside, for that is where our true essence resides.
photo by © Tana Gandhi
As we are all “becoming,” reflect on being and becoming more of who you are meant to be. How has breast cancer changed your life? Who were you before? After?
I always chuckle when I say that bras have given me a sense of purpose in the world, but it’s true. In some ways, so has cancer. No one ever chooses illness, but if we’re lucky, we come out the other side with expanded perspective on what’s really important and how we want to spend the time that we have left. There’s a preciousness to each moment now for me. And through my experiences with cancer, I have found a way to be of service to others, which is something I’ve always yearned to be able to do. I’m not sure breast cancer changed my personality or lifestyle per se, but it has definitely given me permission to prioritize the things I love most. There’s nothing more important than the people in my life and moments of beauty that I find in simple pleasures such as hugs, trees, soft breezes and sunlight. I’ve always felt that way, but now I feel empowered and liberated to focus on them more, allowing them to be front and center every day.
photo by © Tana Gandhi
Define beauty. Define success.
To me, beauty is an inner light that shines outward, a confidence or comfort in one’s own skin. We all have it, though we may not always express it. When I’m in the presence of beauty, a sense of calm and assuredness washes over my body, and I feel solace. I studied the phenomenology of beauty through my Masters of Painting education and learned that when we’re in the presence of something beautiful, there’s a mental and emotional ease that comes over us, as sense of rightness in the world, a calm. To me, beauty – real beauty, not superficial beauty – is one of life’s greatest gifts.
Success is an interesting concept. There’s material success, which I don’t deny aspiring to, but real success, given all I’ve learned, is equated with being able to make a difference in the world. It can be in small ways or large, but paying forward what we’ve been given, offering resources and compassion to others and giving back is what makes me feel the most successful. Opening my eyes to the greater world and offering whatever I can.
Keira and her dad, photo by © Everviolet, Inc.
Little things make a difference. Fill in the blank and give us one closing thought, belief or guiding principle you have related to “Little __________ Goes Far”
Little kindness goes far.
My dad would do this amazing thing when I was a kid. We’d drive through a toll both, and he’d give the toll collector enough money to pay for our car as well as the car behind us. He never knew who those people were or how they responded to this gesture, but that act of pure giving stuck with me. Whether it’s offering a smile, an ear or a hand, the impact of these little acts is far greater than the effort it takes to execute them. As cliché as it sounds, when we give, we receive, and often, it inspires others to pay those gifts forward as well.
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