In 2005, Wrentham resident June Brady-Wooding's world was turned upside down when she was diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer just eight months after giving birth to her second child.
“Through that whole process – a two-year period – I was in bed and it was really intense and I had surgery,” Brady-Wooding said. “It wasn’t a good outlook.”
Doctors had little research on the cancer, telling Brady-Wooding only 200 people a year are diagnosed with her form of bone cancer.
But despite the bleak outlook, Brady-Wooding overcame the odds and has been cancer free since 2007.
“I never thought, ‘Oh my God, I’m going to die,’” Brady-Wooding said. “I never thought ‘poor me.’ All I thought of was the end gain. The end gain to me was no matter what I’m going to be the way I want. I'm going to be back to who I am. What I didn’t do was put a timeframe on it.”
Brady-Wooding said she found inspiration while watching Cirque du Soleil performers during her recovery and found hope in her daily improvement.
“What I did was just try to work towards my goal every day and then I’m going to look back and see if I improved,” she said. “If I could see improvement that gave me hope. The other thing that gave me hope was I was watching Cirque du Soleil on TV and I said ‘My God, look at what they are doing with their bodies. That is almost impossible.’ But they train their muscles to do things a normal person wouldn’t do.”
So Brady-Wooding trained her mind to stay positive and let her body heal from the cancer while training her muscles to overcome the cancer and regain strength.
The result has been nothing short of a miracle as Brady-Wooding, cancer free since 2007, is back to enjoying life to its fullest, which recently included opening her own clothing store, Fanautical at Patriot Place, last November.
“Fanautical is for those who feel that life is not just about surviving; it is about living it to the max,” Brady-Wooding writes on her website. “There is something about water that represents freedom, liberation and fun. Fanautical appeals to those who push beyond their own comfort zone, as well as those who share an irreverence towards typical societal boundaries.”
The store perfectly reflects Brady-Wooding’s fun-loving personality and is the result of inspiration from a sarcastic, edgy yellow cartoon fish named “Louie” that was created during her recovery.
“I just felt like I was in bed [recovering] and everyone was having a blast around me,” Brady-Wooding said. … “I kept thinking about that life I wanted to get back to because I kept thinking this sucks and this is not the life for me.”
So Brady-Wooding came up with “Louie.”
“I thought about this fish named ‘Louie’ and I drew him later on paper when I got better,” she said. “I thought of how he was in the ocean and how he was watching everyone splash and play around him and then he pushed his personal boundaries and pushed society’s boundaries … he just said ‘screw it, I’m going where the fun is’ and that’s what I did.”
“Louie,” Brady-Wooding explains, is a cute but sarcastic yellow fish whose lure is fun.
“He is always looking for those who are having the ultimate time,” Brady-Wooding writes on her website. “When he finds them, he attaches himself to them and travels with them.”
“Louie” is branded on Brady-Wooding’s merchandise, or “Moor"chandise as the pun-loving owner calls it.
While Fanautical has only been in business one year, Brady-Wooding says the concept for the store has been around much longer.
“I had an online store that I had started,” Brady-Wooding said. “Along with that I published a newsletter I called the ‘Water Log.’ It’s where ‘Louie’ travels … he travels all over the world and it’s just kind of silly.”
The Kraft Group discovered Brady-Wooding’s newsletter and online store and thought her concept would be a great addition to Patriot Place.
“[The newsletter] got to the Kraft organization because people pass it along,” Brady-Wooding said. “I received a call from them and they said they had been looking for someone for the past two to three years, someone local that could help foster their business and they were wondering if I was interested in locating here.”
Brady-Wooding was and on Nov. 19, 2011, Fanautical transformed from an online store and newsletter to a physical store located in the North Marketplace of Patriot Place.
“[The Kraft Group] did a lot,” Brady-Wooding said. “I never would have been able to do that without their help.”
And of course “Louie.”
“I scratched my way out of hell,” Brady-Wooding said, referring to sketches of “Louie” during her recovery. “That’s how I ended up with the store. I had come up with the word about 10 years ago as a joke but never did anything with it. The [store and Louie] came together when I got sick.”
Brady-Wooding recently participated in a Q&A session with Foxborough Patch. We asked about her aquatic-themed clothing store and what it’s like to be a small business owner in Foxborough. Here’s what she had to say:
Patch: What is one thing people might not know about Fanautical?
Brady-Wooding: What I like about my store is the fact that people experience great energy and they feel like they are on vacation. For them to spend money and say, ‘Thanks, I had a blast’ means a lot. Because of the economy I like to have “Moor-chandise or multi-use clothing. For instance, you may have something like one of our F-shirts where you can use them for different purposes. You can wear them to work, wear them to the gym or wear them with jeans.
Patch: What is your business best known for in the community?
Brady-Wooding: Louie. The thing I want to get out about Louie is that he is not Disney. He is, because this is who I am, he’s got a little bit of a funny edge to him. He’s sarcastic, kind of crazy. He’s not Nemo. He’s really about that person who wants to put themselves out there. … I think the more people find out about me, particularly in Foxborough, the more it is starting to penetrate the schools. I have a number of crew members that are in the Foxborough School system and they say they see Louie all around the schools. … I like that because it starts to grow within one community and then I start to notice similar things happening in adjacent towns.
Patch: When are you busiest?
Brady-Wooding: Weekends are typically busy. [At Patriot Place] there’s buying crowds and there’s non-buying crowds. It just depends.
Patch: How has the economy affected your business in the last year?
Brady-Wooding: I’m pleased. People expect to lose money their first year and I’m not. I feel grateful that that is not the case. I think the testament to the fact that people want to franchise [my store] says there’s certainly interest. There might be a percentage of people who think they can’t buy it right now but they love it. So they may walk out without something in their hand where as if they had a little bit more money they might have bought something or bought more.
Patch: Why did you bring your business to Foxborough?
Brady-Wooding: It’s an exciting place here. I love coming to work. I got great neighbors. The people that work at the Kraft Group are fantastic. That was exciting to me; just feeling like you’re being taken care of by such a successful organization and that they have confidence in you, enough to knock on your door, that’s what also gave me confidence.
Patch: What are ‘fun raisers’ and why do you hold them?
Brady-Wooding: There’s nothing normal in this store. Going through what I went through and needing help … I try to [give back to those who need help]. So instead of the typical advertising route, I like to give my money to organizations because to me that feels good and helps people. You connect with people in a deeper way. I wish more businesses would make it part of their business plan because then we are helping each other out, especially in a down economy. I think we all need to do more.
Patch: What is your most popular item in the store?
Brady-Wooding: The most popular item the “Keep Warm Italian Ice Swirl” long-sleeve shirts. We have it in women, juniors and for little girls. I can sell this same thing to an eight-year-old and then a fun-loving 80-year-old woman will buy it as well as everybody in between. There’s an attractiveness about this one item that sucks everybody in. A lot of my stuff is so soft so it’s a good way to look really cute but be comfortable.
Patch: What advice would you give to people who currently have cancer?
Brady-Wooding: I never thought of it as a fight when I was going through it. I thought of it as a ride. I had confidence in my doctors and I just let it take me like a wave. I knew I was going on this ride and it was going to be over – my treatment was going to be over – at a certain time. I would figure it all out on where I was going to be after all of that. I, as calmly as I could, just let it take me. You just have to have an indomitable spirit. It’s hard to do when you’re in it and not to say I was like that every day. I had three meltdowns. I remember them well. The word fight to me is exhausting. If you’re trying to fight cancer as opposed to letting your body heal it’s too much.
Fanautical is open Monday through Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.