Chemo Beanies aims to ease the burden of hair loss with a product that is proudly Made in America.
Angelle Albright was a 38-year-old mother of three young kids when her life was uprooted after being diagnosed with invasive Stage IIIB breast cancer in 2005. Her doctors gave her just a 34% chance of survival. Immediately, Albright was sucked into a world of surgery, chemotherapy, and countless obstacles and challenges to overcome as she ultimately made a successful recovery.
One of the challenges Albright faced was the indignity of hair loss due to chemotherapy, as she explained that her long curly hair was a part of her personal identity. More importantly, for Albright and so many others like her struggling through cancer, hair loss made her feel exposed.
It “was just a little too much and made everything just so much more traumatic and emotional,” Albright recalled.
But Albright found that options for hats and head coverings were few and far between. Scarves were expensive and incapable of staying in place. Bandanas left areas around the back of the ears and neck uncovered. Wigs were hot and never looked right.
So, Albright decided to take matters into her own hands and invented Chemo Beanies, which are made with elastic bands and a neck flap to provide women with the feeling of having hair. It was a product formed out of necessity, and Albright has taken to calling herself an “accidental entrepreneur.”
But Chemo Beanies are more than just an accident — the business is something that Albright is passionate about, and has painstakingly developed over the years. Chemo Beanies is a “purpose-driven company and that propelled us and gave us the momentum to succeed,” Albright said.
“It comes down to the heart of those driving the ship, and our hearts have always been in this.”
One important decision Chemo Beanies made as it continued to grow was to manufacture in America.
“There was a lot of talk of the textile industry having moved overseas, and we were bound and determined to” make our products here, Albright reflected. “To me, we were providing American jobs at the same time, and this was inspiring and rewarding personally and professionally.”
Chemo Beanies are manufactured in Los Angeles, and the company also sources wholesale fabric in the United States. This wasn’t without its challenges, especially as Chemo Beanies scaled up from making just 500 beanies at first, to larger and larger increments, as the costs of scaling and manufacturing in the US were higher than doing so abroad.
“We have to keep fighting and clawing and putting out good products in order to keep this going,“ Albright acknowledged, as there is intense competition from abroad to make a cost-effective product in the United States.
The difference, however, is in the quality. Beanies Made in America “are sewn with more care, and are all around, just higher quality,” Albright said. “The people who sew our beanies understand our mission and inject the same passion in their work as we do. So even with the challenges, we are proud to be Made in the USA.”
Chemo Beanies has no intention to become a headwear monolith, and instead sees itself as fulfilling a niche and supporting cancer patients in need.
“Our goal is to simply be there whenever a patient is looking for one,” Albright said. “We want to be everywhere we are needed and can deliver the goods!”
It is this simple, mission-driven mentality that underlies Chemo Beanies’ success and how they operate. In addition, of course, to the grit and perseverance of their amazing founder, Angelle Albright, to give folks struggling through cancer the comfort that they need.