Brave mum who battled breast cancer nominated for Euro inventors' award
September 22 2015
A BRAVE mum who battled breast cancer and created a business selling headwear for sufferers undergoing chemotherapy has been shortlisted for a European inventors’ award.
Emilienne Rebel (right) was nominated for a creativity prize at the biannual European Women Inventors Innovators Network Exhibition, Conference and Awards, to be held in London from October 12.
The mum-of-two, from Overton near Wrexham, will be presenting the Bold Beanies range of soft and stylish cotton hats, which have proven popular with people losing their hair as a result of chemotherapy, or with Alopecia.
Emilienne, who began producing the beanies after being diagnosed with the condition eight years ago, now sells hundreds every week but is ready to take the next step in growing her business with the support of Llandudno’s Blah D Blah Design.
The headwear is used as breathable alternative for outdoor sports and as a liner under all types of cycle and motorbike helmets, and the 39-year-old has other plans in the pipeline for the teen market.
For now, though, she is embracing the opportunity to stand alongside some of the continent’s great female inventors and innovators with her “simple” but life-changing line of products, having already secured a special recognition award.
“I’m proud to be nominated but there are so many incredible women involved that it’s really a huge surprise and honour to be standing alongside them with my simple range of hats,” said Emilienne, who works closely with Glyndŵr University Wrexham as a role model for Big Ideas Wales.
“I’ll be presenting Bold Beanies to the judges and talking about ideas I have going forward, including iron-on patches, T-shirts and a new brand aimed at a wider audience. It is early days for that but the future is looking bright and the company is moving in the right direction.
“It’s still just me doing a lot of this on my own but I have a great network around me and we are making a profit. I’d like things to move a little faster but that’s just me being impatient! I’m happy with how Bold Beanies is developing and thankful for the support I’ve been given over the last few years.”
Emilienne discovered she had breast cancer after finding a lump; she urges other women to check themselves regularly and help raise awareness of the disease.
“You know your own body so look out for any signs, or anything different, and then make an appointment to see your doctor,” she said.
“Having cancer has played a huge part in my life and in the vision for Bold Beanies; giving something back is important so I also make hats to raise money for charities, such as Alice’s Escapes.”
She added: “As a single mum of two recovering from the condition I had to be realistic when I started.
“It wouldn’t be practical for me to find suppliers overseas and travel back and forth, but I wouldn’t want to do that anyway because supporting other local businesses is very important to me, especially after the goodwill I’ve received since setting up in 2009.”
Among the rebelfamily range of gifts is a bouquet of beanies; the personal touch is incredibly important to Emilienne, and maintaining integrity as the fledgling company grows over the coming years.
“I’ve had so many people telling me I’ve improved their lives and made chemotherapy and the loss of their hair more bearable, that they can now sleep at night without itching and scratching and hiding away at home.” said Emilienne.
“It’s so lovely to hear that, it makes everything worthwhile – I’m just trying to make a very difficult situation a little easier.”
Describing her current health as “up and down”, Emilienne says her battle with the after-effects of cancer continue but will not stop her achieving her goals.
“It’s always there, every time there’s an ache or a bump I’m back in hospital for a full body scan,” she said.
“It’s probably never going to be any different but I am very fortunate to be in a positive place right now and my focus is on my family and Bold Beanies, because I know these hats are making a difference to a lot of people out there.”
Emilienne added: “When you go for chemotherapy you prepare yourself for the bad things that are going to happen to you - the days of sickness, the tiredness, the pain - but it’s the small things that get to you the most.
“When I lost my hair I wore a woollen but it would get too hot, then too cold when I took it off. It was itchy and uncomfortable so I never got any sleep which made me feel more drained and even worse.
“With Bold Beanies there are no seams and the material is soft and it’s one less thing for people with cancer to have to worry about. That’s what is special about them.
“But while the beginning of this journey was about creating headwear for people with the condition I really do see many other avenues as well, and many markets, so I look forward to exploring them in the future.”
Visit the Bold Beanies website http://www.boldbeanies.co.uk or follow Emilienne on Twitter: @BoldBeanies.