October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. It's estimated that 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. This month, our small business friends at Happy 2nd Birthday have teamed up with the National Breast Cancer Foundation to support women undergoing breast cancer treatment with a donation to their HOPE Kits: a tangible expression of hope, providing comfort & encouragement to women during this difficult time.
Keep reading to learn more about the small business difference with Happy 2nd Birthday co-founder, Juliana Brewer(JB), and the family story that inspired the mission behind their purposeful brand.
gb: For those who may not be familiar, the story behind Happy 2nd Birthday is so meaningful. Can you share more about the inspiration behind your small business and its mission?
JB: Happy 2nd Birthday was inspired by our family’s experience with cancer. Our father was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2012, and he went through numerous treatments over the years, including chemotherapy, radiation, a bone marrow transplant, and CAR T-cell therapy. All these treatments had numerous skin side effects, such as dermatitis, rashes, redness and inflammation, and overall very dry and sensitive skin. We struggled to find him skincare products that were not only safe and effective, but also gave him a positive self-care experience.
At the same time, I was a new mom and concerned about product safety, not just during pregnancy but also in the nursing stage. We wanted to create a skincare line where the whole family could use the same products and feel great about it, instead of having separate ones for each individual. That’s why our brand is genderful, safe for pregnancy/breastfeeding, and also great for cancer warriors and survivors.
Our mission is to help improve the skin and emotional wellbeing of those with sensitive skin issues, especially cancer patients.
We understand that skin concerns affect self-confidence and how you feel, and our passion is helping others feel better through skincare, no matter what they’re going through in their life. We chose to call our brand Happy 2nd Birthday to honor our father, because he was gifted a “second birthday,” on the day of his bone marrow transplant and it truly symbolized his second chance at life.
gb: What an incredibly powerful story and mission. It's so evident how much intentionality has gone into the creation of each of your products. Beyond the humanful intentionality behind Happy 2nd Birthday, can you share more about the difference in your product development process & ingredients?(especially those that set you apart from many of the other mega-skincare brands that exist!)
JB: Our brand was created for our family’s needs, so we don't include any ingredients that have a known risk to cancer or pregnancy. We also eliminate ingredients banned by the EU Cosmetics Regulation, and check with EWG’s Skin Deep database for ingredient safety. All of our products are vegan and certified Leaping Bunny cruelty-free as well.
However, the main difference is that we work with dermatologists who specialize in Dermato-Oncology and Cosmetic Dermatology & Surgery to help us with formulation-safety and efficacy as advisors. They have specific patient-driven insights into the skin concerns of cancer patients, which informs us of greater needs outside our father’s experience, and which also influence product development.
Throughout the process, these professionals verify ingredient safety, and no product formulation is ever finalized without their approval.
gb: Wow, that's incredible. Thanks for sharing. We know your family's experiences have been critical in the inspiration and creation of Happy 2nd Birthday. In addition to this, can you speak to how being an AAPI-owned, family-owned, and veteran-owned business has shaped— or in any way helped to inform or inspire— the products Happy 2nd Birthday offers?
JB: As a Korean-American family, we wanted to include products made in both Korea and the U.S. Plus, Korea is known for its innovative beauty industry, so it certainly made sense to take advantage of that connection. A big part of why we made Happy 2nd Birthday was the lack of safe products that made our father feel good, as he had been accustomed to skincare that he enjoyed as part of his routine before he'd gotten sick. Our Korean heritage influenced our understanding that a skincare routine is more than just cleansing and moisturizing, but also plays a large role in how you feel from something that seems routine and basic. It’s also connected to a lot of our family memories, such as when our mom used to place homemade cucumber paste or sliced potatoes on our skin after sunburns, or when we’d all use sheet masks together. So starting our own skincare brand was another part of our family’s journey together!
gb: Awe. That's so meaningful, thank you. It's details like these that remind us how meaningful it is to support small businesses. From your own experience as a small business owner, is there anything you wish shoppers knew about what it means to own and operate a small business?
JB: Absolutely. One thing we wish shoppers knew is how much each purchase directly impacts us small businesses. Shoppers may think their shopping decisions don’t matter much in the big picture, but they really do for small business owners like us— they can make or break a business. By shopping small, folks are supporting actual families like our own where every purchase is seen and felt by the owners. It’s incredibly difficult to operate your own business, so every purchase uplifts us and fills us with hope that our products help all of our recipients in some way.
gb: Yes! Love that. Thanks for the wonderful reminder. Speaking of shopping with small businesses, we have to ask... besides your own small business, who are a few of your current small business favorites?
JB: CALPAK has such cool and fun designs— from their luggage to their packing cubes— plus we love how it continues to be a family business with the owners’ children running the show now. Another favorite of ours is Recovery Swag since we can certainly relate to the practice of appreciating second chances and connecting with others from difficult shared experiences. We really admire their ability to create community and connection through humor, heartfelt words, or simply fun colors.
gb: Yes! Both of those are such great choices.We're curious, as a small business yourself, what do you believe is the 'small business difference'?
JB: We believe that you should know who you're supporting and what those businesses care about themselves because that’s where, as a customer, your money will go. Shopping with small businesses gives you more control over the causes you choose to support, which ultimately results in feeling good about the purchases you make beyond the physical products themselves. As for the products, small business owners have much more control over the product quality and customer service they offer compared to mega-retailers. Plus, your feedback is more likely to result in a true, tangible improvement of the products being offered since small businesses can make changes more quickly than big box names. So when presented with the option for a more positive shopping experience why wouldn't you shop small?
gb: Thanks again for sharing your story, time, and energy with us. We're so grateful for our community of small business owners (like you!) who are making such a meaningful, heartfelt difference in the world. Is there anything else you’d like to share?
JB: One last thing! We’re happy to be able to support the National Breast Cancer Foundation with donations to their HOPE Kit. These HOPE Kits are sent to women undergoing breast cancer treatment— and as you know if you’ve ever received a gift during a difficult time— intentional acts of kindness can truly lift spirits. For every Happy 2nd Birthday product sold now through the end of the year, we'll donate a Calming Creamy Cleanser to the National Breast Cancer Foundation's HOPE Kits. A similar campaign we hosted last year allowed us to donate over $12,000 worth of our Oil-Free Daily Moisturizer to the HOPE Kit program and we're hoping to match or beat that this year, with your help!
Just one more reason to shop small. Give back and shop small with Happy 2nd Birthday on goodbuy.