When Laverne Mock opened MoNel's Foundations more than 20 years ago, she never imagined being a customer of her own business.
Laverne Mock (left) the owner of MoNels Foundations, and customer Judy Erskin look over swimsuits in the shop. MoNels
products are tailored for women
who have undergone mastectomies.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
MoNel's products are tailored for women who have undergone mastectomies, selling breast prosthesis, swimwear and special order clothing.
Mock learned in 1986 that she had breast cancer, three years after she opened MoNel's, at first running the business from her home and later moving to a storefront.
"I was already in business when I had my breast surgery," she said. "I didn't dream I'd be a customer."
A surgical nurse by trade, Mock helped women deal with the entire process from learning they had breast cancer to surgery and recovery for more than 45 years before deciding to open MoNel's.
"I opened the business as a personal concern because there was no place for these women to go," said Mock, a 71-year-old mother of five. "Today, there are other small businesses like myself that do this, but I'm the only one in Columbia County."
Women, as Mock so eloquently says it, "don't have a choice about having breast cancer, but they should have a choice about where they want to go and where their needs are best met." And, Mock is insistent that she is in business because women "want to look as normal and natural as they did the day before they had their surgery."
Mock and her employees are certified mastectomy fitters - they have been professionally trained to fit post-mastectomy women for bras, lingerie, swimwear and maternity clothing.
"As a nurse, my main concern is taking care of people," said Mock. "When they come in here, I want them to tell me what they want. Being a mastectomy and cancer survivor, I know what their needs are; but I want to know what they want. I am willing to and want to do whatever I can to help these women."
In the 16 years since Mock discovered she had breast cancer and had a mastectomy, a wealth of customers have entered the doors of MoNel's for personal attention from someone who has been there.
Judy Erskin of North Augusta has been a customer of MoNel's for seven years. It's that personal attention she gets that brings her back time after time.
"Laverne has that rapport with people and understanding that is so helpful," said Erskin. "They're very good with the fittings. If she puts something on you and it doesn't look right, she says, 'Uh, uh, this isn't for you."'
Mock admits that if a customer wants to purchase something she doesn't think fits properly, she'd just as soon they shop some place else.
"I want them to walk out of here happy and if something doesn't fit right, they aren't going to be happy," she said.
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