Breast cancer awareness blooming with Vera Bradley

Released this past month was Vera Bradley‘s new spring patterns, including their new breast cancer awareness pattern. The new pattern, featuring bubble-gum pink daisies on a navy blue background, is called “Loves Me…” and ten percent of the proceeds from the sale of Loves Me… bags goes to the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer.

Every year since 1993, Vera Bradley has designated one of their patterns to raise awareness for breast cancer. Last year’s pattern, or “color,” was Hope Garden.

“There are always two out at a time,” said Sara Berquist, buyer at The Other Place, on Court St. “The new one and the one from the previous year.”

Breast cancer research became a cause that Vera Bradley strongly advocated in 1993, when a woman named Mary Sloan lost her battle with breast cancer. Sloan was the college roommate and friend of Barbara Baekgaard, Co-Founder of Vera Bradley.

Vera Bradley’s mission to cure breast cancer evolved from making simple donations to hosting events like the Vera Bradley Golf and Tennis Classic, which brought in almost $800,000 this past June.

Though they still host the Classic every year, the money they earned is no longer distributed to various breast cancer research foundations, because in 1998 funds increased and Vera Bradley was able to start a foundation of their own.

The Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer is partnered with the Indiana University Cancer Center. Vera Bradley spokesperson Melissa Schenkel said they have come through with some groundbreaking research.

“They’re saying that in the next five to ten years they will be able to administer a blood test and be able to tell you whether you have just a little bit of breast cancer and be able to cure that at a much, much earlier rate,” Schenkel said in an interview at the Classic.

Another event that raised awareness was the fall’s Tickled Pink Girl’s Night Out in Fort Wayne, Ind., which raised almost $54,000. Food was donated to the event, and the ladies enjoyed cocktails, a silent auction, and live entertainment.

Along with these events, ten percent of proceeds from the sale of special breast cancer awareness handbags goes to the Vera Bradley Foundation for Breast Cancer.

“Some people won’t completely love the pattern, but once they hear that [ten percent goes to breast cancer research], they’ll buy it if breast cancer is a cause that’s close to their heart,” Berquist said.

Berquist also pointed out the many brochures that line the counter top in the back right corner of The Other Place. These brochures, given to their retail stores by Vera Bradley, encourage people to make a donation to Ribbons for Life.

“People can take these cards and donate money in their name,” Berquist said, “Or sometimes they make a donation as a gift to someone else.”

Ribbons for Life is part of the fund raising for the Vera Bradley Classic. For $5, a pink ribbon is personalized with someone’s name, which is also entered in a drawing for a Vera Bradley bag.

There is no end to the raising of funds and awareness with Vera Bradley. Their catalogs include stories of breast cancer survivors, and some of their bags are named after women who have lost their lives to the disease, such as the Lisa B.

The stories of these survivors and tragedies are always closely linked with people working for Vera Bradley, keeping things very personal and real to their audience.

Vera Bradley also advertised in their recent catalog that they supported The Hunger Project by making a $10,000 pledge. They consistently support foundations by making pledges, then asking their customers to help them come through on that pledge.

Advocating awareness amongst women has traveled above and beyond the efforts of Vera Bradley. Earlier this year, the women of the Facebook community were told to sport their bra color as their one-word status of the day.

Youtube users have posted videos titled “What’s in my purse?” This is rumored to be part of the breast cancer awareness movement, especially the ones including Vera Bradley purses and bags.


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