Lisa Brambilla-Doble demonstrates a brush and eyebrow stencil from her kit.

Eyes on Survival

A creative vision and focus on boosting her business are behind a Medford resident’s line of eyebrow stencils that help to restore the image of cancer patients.

SurvivorEyes BrowStyle kits arose from Lisa Brambilla-Doble’s battle with breast cancer and her desire to improve the outlook of chemotherapy patients.

Nearly two years after Brambilla-Doble searched in vain for brow stencils on a friend’s behalf, SurvivorEyes is represented by three major online retailers, aimed not only at women but also male cancer patients and people experiencing other forms of hair loss.

“It’s a great answer for a lot people, and it’s affordable,” says Brambilla-Doble. “And it’s for people who don’t know how to put on makeup.”

Penciling on eyebrows proved such a struggle that Laurie Nalezny feared she would look like a “freak” after losing her hair during chemotherapy. Emotionally drained, Laurie dreaded leaving her Anaheim, California, home until Brambilla-Doble arrived with home-cooked meals and a fellow survivor’s sympathetic ear.

“It rocks your psyche,” says Brambilla-Doble of cancer’s toll, particularly its mark on a person’s physical appearance. “It leaves you feeling so vulnerable and like a raw nerve.”

Brambilla-Doble thought that help for her friend was just an Internet search away. But hours of online browsing didn’t recommend a brow-stencil kit that looked natural yet wouldn’t irritate skin stressed from chemotherapy. Brambilla-Doble decided to solve the problem for Laurie and as many as 1.6 million Americans diagnosed every year with cancer.

“Everybody wants to look good,” says Brambilla-Doble.

Working with friends in the beauty industry, Brambilla-Doble sourced Sormé brow pencils for SurvivorEyes. Based in Southern California, the company manufactures professional-grade cosmetics, including the sweatproof, waterproof formula that Brambilla-Doble markets with her brow stencils as Forever Brows. Packaged with a different set of stencils, the set is offered as Brows for Bros, a brow-styling kit for men, launched in July.

Including men in the SurvivorEyes business model is an idea for which Brambilla-Doble credits a friend employed at Sephora, a major beauty-brand retailer. Another of Brambilla-Doble’s friends, a former Hollywood makeup artist, designed SurvivorEyes brow shapes and brush, manufactured overseas and imported by custom product provider Stephen Gould.

“Everybody helped me,” says Brambilla-Doble. “I’m a constant networker.”

More help came unexpectedly upon the death of Brambilla-Doble’s aunt, who left the entrepreneur a cash inheritance when she needed it most. Brambilla-Doble ran out of funds while filing SurvivorEyes trademarks and patents. If it wasn’t for the boost, SurvivorEyes would still be “sitting in the idea box,” says Brambilla-Doble.

In her aunt’s name, Brambilla-Doble has pledged to donate 5 percent from every SurvivorEyes purchase to such organizations as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Ronald McDonald House and the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, which supports Americans living with an autoimmune skin disease that causes hair loss.

Asante’s pediatric cancer center is another of Brambilla-Doble’s intended charities since she moved to Medford this month from Yerba Linda, California. The New York native and longtime resident of Hawaii says she fell in love with Southern Oregon while visiting friends a year ago. The region’s wine country reminds her of childhood vacations in Italy, and the slower pace of life, she says, extends to more relaxed driving, compared with Southern California’s scary freeways.

“It’s not for me,” says Brambilla-Doble of her home for nearly three decades.

Brambilla-Doble found a new home for her family — and her business — in east Medford, where she’ll work to realize her brow-styling kit for children. Amazon and Walmart just signed on as SurvivorEyes online retailers, joining Costco, which has carried the kits since April, with a price tag about $15 lower than other outlets. Priced at $39.95, kits also can be purchased at www.survivoreyes.com.

— Reach freelance writer Sarah Lemon at thewholedish@gmail.com.

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