By Stephanie Ila Silver-Silberstein
This month, in honor of Mother’s Day, BeautyNewsNYC would like to introduce you to one truly remarkable mom: Elizabeth Thompson. After electing to undergo a prophylactic double mastectomy and breast reconstruction, Elizabeth started Best Friends For Life Co (a.k.a. BFFL Co.), a company dedicated to improving the patient experience and making it a whole lot easier to find the perfect gift for recovering loved ones when you don’t exactly know what to say or give. From expecting moms to those with cancer, BFFL provides patients and their loved ones with valuable medical information as well as thoughtful gift bags and products to help those on the road to recovery. Find out more about this incredible business and the woman behind it in this month’s mompreneur interview with Elizabeth Thompson.
BN: Write your bio in 5 sentences or less (i.e. where’d you grow up?, where’d you go to school?, job before kids?, how many kids?, where do you live now? Hobbies? etc.)
ET: Born and raised in Washington, DC , I had dreams of becoming a cancer physician just like my father. I graduated from Yale (where I met my husband), Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Harvard University (where I received my Masters in Public Health) and in 1998 began working for a Radiation Oncology practice (where I still work).
My husband and I live in a suburb of New York City with our 4 children ages 9 to 14, so between working part-time as a physician, running my company BFFL Co (“Best Friends for Life”), and coordinating the school and sports activities of four children, I don’t have time for too much else. I try to stay in shape with an occasional marathon, and love watching and playing sports. Also, I try to read a few pages of a book every night (historical fiction is my favorite), and spend a little time playing with our two English Bulldogs.
BN: What inspired you to start your own business? How did it all begin?
ET: In 2006, after serious consideration of my own high risk of breast cancer because of family history, I underwent a prophylactic double mastectomy and breast reconstruction.
After this life-changing surgery, I decided to commit myself to helping other women navigate the decisions involved in the very procedure I elected to undergo.
In 2011, I founded BFFL Co (“Best Friends for Life”), a company that develops and markets modern recovery products and services that improve the patient experience—not just for patients recovering from cancer treatment but any patient recovering from surgery or other conditions or treatments.
BN: What challenges did you face when starting your company?
ET: Since I was trained as a doctor, not a businesswoman, I had to learn about business. My initial instinct was to give everything away! My husband, who works in the financial industry, helped me see that unless I figured out how to earn a profit, I wouldn’t be in business for long. He really kept me on track. I also had to learn about marketing, and how to start building a long-term brand. Eventually I put together a small team of people with different specialties, with skills that complement each other.
BN: You’re on a desert island…with your child – name 5 must-have items you’ll want with you.
ET: Well, we’d have water for swimming and sand to run on, so that takes care of the sports and fitness part. That leaves: granola, yogurt, diet pepsi, a toothbrush, and a generator for cell-phone charging so I can call my parents and check in everyday. I guess I’d need some fuel to run the generator, too. Forget the toothbrush – I’d make one out of tropical plants.
BN: What are your goals for the future of this company (realistic or in your wildest dreams)?
ET: My dream is that BFFL Co will become the go-to source for all recovery products and get-well gifts. We are in a time of great technological advancement in medical treatment, but also serious cost-cutting in which hospitals are having to pare down to just the bare essentials for patient amenities. There is tremendous opportunity for friends and family to enhance the patient experience with products that bring dignity, comfort, care and speed of recovery to the patient. Think about this: people go to the hospital when they are most vulnerable. They have to undress, they are cut open, poked, probed. Flowers, cookies and balloons are lovely, but wouldn’t it be better to actually enhance the recovery and healing process? At BFFL Co we started with one recovery kit, the Breast BFFLBag®, and have since launched dozens of new products for other cancers and conditions, including bags, bras, apparel, skin care items, and rehab tools. We want to change the way people think about gift-giving and supporting friends and loved ones who are having medical procedures.
Visit http://www.bfflco.com to lea;rn more about Best Friends for Life, learn valuable medical information and purchase gifts and products your friends and loved ones will truly appreciate.