RN hopes sales of edgy anti-cancer apparel grow

MICHAEL HINKELMAN / DAILY NEWS STAFF Tiffany Wade started making the apparel shortly before her hairstylist's mom died from breast cancer.
MICHAEL HINKELMAN / DAILY NEWS STAFF Tiffany Wade started making the apparel shortly before her hairstylist's mom died from breast cancer.
Posted: March 11, 2014

T IFFANY WADE, 29, of Cheltenham Township, is CEO of Kissess LLC, a company that makes "F--- CANCER" apparel, with the "C" in "F---" replaced by a breast-cancer-awareness ribbon. Wade, a divorced mother of two daughters and a registered nurse, started the apparel line a year ago, shortly before her hairstylist's mother died of breast cancer.

Q: How'd you come up with the idea for the company?

A: I've been an RN for 10 years and worked at Hahnemann [University Hospital] for almost eight years. I cared for cancer patients and watched families struggle. I posted a picture on Instagram last March with "F--- CANCER" and got responses from followers by the hundreds: If you make a T-shirt with that, I'll buy it.

Q: What's the brand?

A: I did not think about ["F--- CANCER"] when I did this and wanted to make it a little more modest. I live in a society where, you know, we're edgy, and the more edgy something is, the better it sells. I also get paid to host special events and I sell my apparel there and at pop-ups. My edgy persona gave it an extra pop.

Q: The biz model?

A: I answer phones, take orders, do shipments and even print some tees. Most business I do from the trunk of my car. I spend a lot of time rippin' and runnin' and goin' to hospitals.

Q: A bit overwhelming?

A: Right now, I just wing it. If I could reach out to somebody with a big company and people could show me how to manage inventory, the business will grow. I have thousands of followers on Instagram. My website has only been up for a couple of months.

Q: How much sold?

A: I don't know, honestly. If I guess, I'd say 1,500 Ts.

Q: Cost?

A: Hats and Ts for adults are $25; Ts and skullies for kids are $20.

Q: You donate to families of cancer patients?

A: I've given Toys "R" Us gift cards, pharmacy cards, free Ts. I've also helped a couple of families with burial expenses.

Q: Your customers?

A: My core is mostly African-American, but my customers are everybody because we all know somebody who died of cancer or has cancer. It started with the inner-city community of Philly, but working-class people have purchased the most Ts. The average age of customers is 20 to 35.

Q: You're big on social media.

A: It's like a free TV commercial. If you get your followers to reach out to entertainers and celebrities and they wear my apparel, that'll boost sales.

Q: Your game plan?

A: I'm looking for a storefront/office where I have a part-time print person, a receptionist who takes orders and a driver to make deliveries.

On Twitter: @MHinkelman

Online: ph.ly/YourBusiness

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