Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Kristen Carbone, Founder of Brilliantly, located in Cranston, RI, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Like a warm hug from your best friend, our flagship product, Brilliantly Warm, delivers the kind of comfort that feels so good it elevates your mood. The sleek and discrete warmers are controlled by an app and slip easily into your favorite bra for safe, natural-feeling warmth that starts in your core. What started as a product designed to support breast cancer survivors feeling more comfortable in their bodies has become a leading innovation in the world of wearable technology for women.

Tell us about yourself

Brilliantly started by trying to solve a problem for myself. My mother, Lisa, died from metastatic breast cancer at age 49, and after years of expensive and emotionally taxing screenings, finding a lump, and learning more about my hereditary risk, I had a preventative mastectomy and reconstruction in 2013. One of the strange and unexpected outcomes is that I feel cold all the time. When you have an implant without breast tissue insulating and keeping its body temperature, the implants are a heat sink and pull warmth from your core. For years I thought I was the only one dealing with that problem. In 2017, when I learned from hundreds of women in the breast cancer community that over 75% of them experience coldness as a regular and constant pain point, I knew I had to solve this problem. I didn't want to make a coat or a vest or even attempt to design a bra. I wanted something that would easily fit into any bra and be invisible under any outfit.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

The thing I'm most proud of is navigating all of the massive Covid-related setbacks and launching Brilliantly Warm. I'm truly thankful that I had the help of so many advisors to get me through that difficult moment.

What's one of the hardest things that come with being a business owner?

When you start your own business, your work day is never over. There is always more work to do, unanswered emails, books to read, podcasts to listen to, and networking events to attend, and it isn't easy to create balance with the rest of life.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Realistic Road Mapping. I wish I knew how much time and money it would take to develop my product.
  2. Self Care. In a company's early days, the founder is the company. And to build a healthy business, you need a healthy founder. I lost myself to Brilliantly for quite a while and wished someone had told me to put myself first.
  3. Spend all your gold. Someone told me this about a year in: Spend all your gold. This has nothing to do with money, well, not really. Gold can be anything; it's a metaphor for whatever you have to spend. Spend every second you have, exhaust every resource, cash in every offer from friends and their friends, and honestly say you've done everything you can. Spend it all; there's always more. Those willing to risk everything have everything to gain.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Don't do it alone! Ask for help, create an advisory board, join online communities of other founders and create accountability groups. It takes a village.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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