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19 Years, $58 Million, 1.1 Million Lab Hours: Behind Ann Taylor and LOFT’s Commitment to Research

By BCRF | April 26, 2023

Executive Chair and CEO Lizanne Kindler on how the brands’ support for BCRF drives company purpose, employee pride, and customer loyalty

“We want to eradicate breast cancer—period,” says Lizanne Kindler, Executive Chair and CEO of Ann Taylor and LOFT about the brands’ longstanding partnership with BCRF. “That is our goal.”

Now in its 19th year, the leading women’s retail apparel brands’ corporate philanthropy program has raised more than $58 million for lifesaving, high-impact research—enough to power more than 1.1 million hours in BCRF-supported labs.

“The Ann and LOFT brands are built around our mission of empowering and supporting women,” Kindler said. “We recognize—as a business, as an organization, and as a group of associates—that every two minutes a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer in the United States. This disease touches so many, if not all, women, at some point in our lives, whether it’s ourselves, someone in our family, or a friend.”

The centerpiece of the brands’ program for BCRF is the Cares Card, the purchase of which unlocks a discount for customers and a generous donation to BCRF (90 percent of the $25 purchase price). Sales of the first Cares Card, in 2005, raised more than $220,000 for BCRF. Since then, the Cares Card has become the driving force behind the brands’ powerhouse fundraising, along with limited-edition product collections, events and store activations, and point-of-sale donations during Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October and at other key moments in the year.

Customers, Kindler said, not only look forward to Ann Taylor and LOFT’s fundraising campaign for BCRF each year, but they deeply value the fact that the brands have long supported a cause that is so meaningful to them. It’s a mission, she says, that is “very real for the women we serve.”

“Customers want to support and do business with organizations that do good, and BCRF has really resonated with them,” Kindler said. “The fact that we support this cause deepens the relationship we have with our customers. They have a loyalty to our brand that goes beyond clothes.”

One key to that loyalty has been the fact that the brands not only fundraise to end breast cancer—but that they elevate BCRF’s research mission each year.

“We put breast cancer at the forefront, we talk about progress, we talk about the road ahead—so it’s not just about us asking customers to help us fundraise,” Kindler said. “We shine a spotlight on what it means to find a cure for breast cancer.”

Ann Taylor and LOFT’s partnership with BCRF has deepened another critical relationship as well: with the brands’ store and corporate associates. Ninety percent of Ann Taylor and LOFT’s associates are women—many of whom have personal connections to breast cancer. Kindler says that the brands’ support for BCRF has fostered a real sense of pride internally and in stores, and that associates look forward to highlighting BCRF’s mission.

“Every single person that works with us has been affected by breast cancer,” said one Ann Taylor store associate in California “Raising money for BCRF is not a task but a privilege. You get to be a superhero and help save a life.” 

Kindler said BCRF’s mission to end breast cancer through research could not be more important or relevant today. Over the last 19 years of the brands’ partnership with the Foundation, incredible progress has been made so that “being diagnosed with breast cancer today isn’t the same as being diagnosed 20 years ago.”

In retail and in business, Kindler noted, there’s a push for companies to make meaningful change. Ann Taylor and LOFT’s nearly two-decade, $58 million support for BCRF research “speaks for itself.”

“Some companies talk, and some companies do. We don’t just want to be the company that talks about purpose. We want to have purpose,” Kindler said. “This has strengthened us from a brand perspective. Our associates want to be part of this, and our customers want to support this partnership because it’s real and authentic. We look forward to many more years of supporting research.”