Voyage LA // Meet Dana Richards of Malibu Dana

Original Article: http://voyagela.com/interview/meet-dana-richards-malibu-dana-malibu/

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Today we’d like to introduce you to Dana Richards.

Dana, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
Hi thank you for having me. People know me as a television producer, breast cancer survivor, philanthropist, and a butterfly. I was just 35 when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. My journey took me to an unspeakably dark place but I eventually found my way back to the light.

Emerging from my struggle, I felt like a butterfly coming out of its cocoon and I now claim the butterfly as my spirit animal. My butterfly wings are spreading as I continue on my path. It hasn’t always been easy, but I know my mission on this planet is to spread joy and hope where I can and to help breast cancer patients.

In 2017, I launched my Malibu Dana apparel, activewear, and swimwear line to raise funds to help breast cancer patients preserve their dignity during treatment by donating a portion of proceeds from every purchase. As a ten-year breast cancer survivor, I am deeply committed to helping other breast cancer patients and advocating for breast cancer awareness and early detection.

My flagship collection is the Butterfly Strong line. What is Butterfly Strong? To me it means to be brave in the face of adversity, to advocate for what you believe in, and to spread love and happiness wherever you can. I believe that together we can generate powerful forces to change this world for the better. The butterfly effect says the flap of one butterfly’s delicate wing can cause a hurricane halfway around the world. I ask you to join me and flap your wings. Live with passion, pursue happiness, and inspire others with the light that shines in each of us…live butterfly strong.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The initial breast cancer diagnosis at 35 shook me to the core and nearly broke my spirit. I was at the height of my television career, newly married, trying to start a family, and in that one phone call with my doctor telling me I had breast cancer, my whole world turned upside down. When you’re 35 or younger that is considered high risk, and they want you to throw everything at it, and in my case that meant multiple surgeries, four rounds of chemo, six weeks of radiation, and medication that made me incapable of conceiving. But in spite of the darkness, I fought my way back, trying every day to keep my dignity intact. My instinct has always been to laugh through the hard times..for me it’s always been easier than crying, and my sense of humor got me through some of the most difficult times. For one, those crazy wigs that looked nothing like me…my husband and I named them all and I used them as my alter egos as I fought my way back to the light…Natasha the spy, Jenny from the block, Dana the pirate, Dana 2.0, to name a few. The small but beautiful acts of kindness from friends and family got me through treatment. Having a strong support system can make all the difference. While receiving a breast cancer diagnosis at an early age and the emotional and physical toll it took was not easy, it has given me a greater purpose, and I will never stop advocating for early detection. It is incredibly important to get checked, get mammograms, and be vigilant. The fear of the unknown can be paralyzing if you let it. But information is power. I am living proof that early detection saves lives. This journey has been a whirlwind and sometimes an unpredictable roller coaster, but helping other breast cancer patients has helped me make sense of it and they have given me the strength to keep serving. That is my mission and I promise to never stop. I wake up every morning incredibly grateful for my life knowing there’s no such thing as being too much of a badass, laughing too loud, crying too much, or loving too hard…I wake up every morning with the same words beating in my grateful heart as I repeat, “Butterfly, today you’re gonna do the best that you can…remember today to be grateful for every breath.”

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Malibu Dana – what should we know?
Malibu Dana apparel was launched with one bourbon, bacon, & yoga tee shirt, which I gave to my best girlfriends because I would always playfully jest that I should have a shirt that lists my three favorite things..it was supposed to be a joke of course… But as soon as my girlfriends wore the shirts, requests started coming in, and now I have a full activewear apparel line which has morphed into the Butterfly Strong collection, and that makes my heart truly happy. I now have activewear for men & women, swimwear, trucker hats, apparel and accessories, everything from candles to holiday ornaments. I also do events, fashion shows, pop up shops (all types of fundraisers to raise money for causes close to my heart and breast cancer awareness for early detection) at yoga studios, boutiques, salons, retreats, surf shops, you name it… all over Southern California and everywhere from Costa Rica to Tulum. My mission is to help breast cancer patients and raise awareness, and also to help the stores that have gotten behind me who carry Malibu Dana and believe in that mission. Sometimes I can’t believe I’ve only been doing this for two years. Every day I am so incredibly grateful to do something I love and to give back to those impacted by breast cancer. I try my hardest to provide hope that there is life on the other side of a breast cancer diagnosis. I am 10 years cancer-free to prove it.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My husband has been my rock through it all. I had him by my side, rooting me on every step of this journey. The organizations where I sit on boards have lifted me and given me greater purpose. THE Breast Cancer Fundraiser gave me the platform to find my voice when I felt I had lost it after completing treatment. It took me five years to even talk about it. The BCF’s mission is to help preserve the dignity of breast cancer patients during treatment. As such, we send gifts of love to breast cancer patients in need and let them know they are not alone. Walk With Sally is another advisory board and non-profit organization I’m so honored to be part of. WWS offers mentoring services to the families and children of those impacted by cancer..the children of cancer patients need the love of these unsung heroes, the amazing mentors, so they have someone to lean on too. And I’m now collaborating with The Dr Susan Love Foundation for Breast Cancer Research… Dr Love believes we can eradicate breast cancer once and for all. I am so honored and blessed to work with such worthy causes… things that I can truly speak to – they fill my butterfly heart and give me wings to fly.

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