As a breast cancer survivor, Kara Gorski of Alexandria, VA co-founded braGGs Reconstruction Bras with her sister to empower women who have undergone a mastectomy with breast reconstruction. In May, she was selected as a finalist in Washington, DC's Grow Your Value contest and competed for a $10,000 bonus – part of the nationwide Know Your Value effort to empower women in the workplace. Here, she shares what she learned from the Know Your Value movement and explains how it benefited her business.
I entered the Grow Your Value competition largely because I needed the cash to keep the small business I have along with my sister scaling and growing. We design and make patent-pending bras for breast cancer survivors who have undergone a mastectomy with breast reconstruction – just like us.
I was also making one giant push to secure other investment opportunities for our business while simultaneously investigating new manufacturers who could help us produce the line (our last manufacturer had gone bankrupt and we lost a lot of money with no product). That month, I pitched Shark Tank, Angel Investors and Mika and her team.
I got close, but I didn't win any of them. Instead, here's what I learned – perhaps the greater gift.
I realized growing your value means changing:
If you aren't changing, you aren't growing. My Know Your Value journey helped me uncover a fundamental truth about myself: gifting people with happiness, whether directly or by helping them to find it within themselves, is my true passion. That is what I love most about my work as a small business owner at braGGs Reconstruction Bras.
But I also realized that maybe there is a way to give that gift to women without the headache of bankrupt manufacturers, undercapitalization and sourcing issues – but simply through message. I'm exploring that while at the same time searching for a giant company with all production and distribution in place to help us give breast cancer survivors who have had reconstruction a bra that meets their unique needs and nurtures their beauty, comfort and confidence. And I'm doing it while growing my own value in ways I didn't expect to before – ways that are a change from anything I could have predicted.
I identified my core values:
My Know Your Value journey helped me realize that I have my own set of core values – just as any good business should. They are gratitude, hope, truth, happiness and love. And I seek to practice them as an entrepreneur and the co-owner of braGGs, as well as a writer, blogger and mother. Just as all businesses should seek to define and communicate their core values, all women should have them too. They will guide you, your business, your decisions and your growth – both in the office and outside of it.
I let my lens define my success:
We all walk through life with a different lens – created by those experiences and people who are our lives. This lens defines your choices, your passions, your work and ultimately how you define success. Recognizing a lens that is uniquely yours will make your approach to work unique as well, and your business will benefit. This will also help you realize your strengths and weaknesses, and make you comfortable with finding and living your own definition of success. Don't let others tell you what success should be. Define it for yourself.
You can watch Gorski and her fellow Grow Your value finalists compete for a $10,000 bonus during Washington, DC’s Know Your Value event here.