Breast cancer is one of the most sinister illnesses that plagues our society. It is leading cancer that claims the lives of women (no matter the race or nationality). According to US Breast Cancer Statistics, 1 out of 8 women (12%) will develop invasive breast cancer throughout their lifetime. That’s roughly over 250,000 new cases in the United States alone. It’s best to catch the disease in its early stages to prevent an untimely death. Cancer.org states that 1 out 38 (2.6%) would likely die from breast cancer. Although it’s less than 3%, it still a percentage nevertheless. That’s why it’s critical to continue champion breast cancer awareness for the preservation of life. October is the month we nationally set aside to bring more knowledge to this hideous disease. It’s a time where both men and women come together to reflect, mourn and come up with different ways to keep the public aware of new initiatives on how to combat this issue. Awareness is key. Anytime there’s an opportunity to educate the masses, it’s imperative. 

For this issue, Industry Rules sat down with Sergio Andrés Mendoza. His wife fell victim to breast cancer in 2017. To further the arm of awareness, the former software developer created the Pharaoun Cocktail Rings. In our Q&A session, Mr. Mendoza spoke on the importance of getting the message out to the public as well as his jewelry collection. 

Here’s the full interview:

AF: How did you come up with your brand Pharaoun Cocktail Rings?

SAM: My wife Sarah’s battle with breast cancer inspired me to create Pharaoun Cocktail Rings to honor the women in my life. Mortality has a way of crystalizing what is important, and after 10 years in software and startups, I realized that I expected more of myself. I loved software development, but I believed I was capable of more, and asked myself the important questions: what should be my personal mission?, how can I be my best self?, and what should my legacy be? I was very much shaped by the powerful women in my life, and I believe that all women deserve to be honored. I find that in the chaos of every day, women forget themselves, their strength, their beauty, and their independence. My hope is that each of my rings inspires the woman wearing it to be the best version of herself.

Sarah died in 2017, and in the following year, I did something radical: I gifted rings to hundreds of women, and in spite of designing each of my rings, I never chose a ring for a woman. A cocktail ring is not like other jewelry. Beautiful, yes, but more importantly, a cocktail ring should be personal, and the best cocktail rings symbolize your relationship with yourself. 
My hope is that each woman falls in love with one of my cocktail rings, not only because of its design, but because it represents a part of them that they love. Maybe it reflects a part of them that they don’t see often but want to be reminded of. Maybe it is their greatest strength. Maybe it is the person they want to be. The choice is hers.

AF: What are you doing this year for breast cancer awareness?

SAM: October is breast cancer awareness month, but I think about it almost every day. I lost my wife Sarah to metastatic breast cancer in 2017, and her fight with cancer is over, but mine is not. My daughter Anaïs is 4 now, but I don’t want to sit idly and wait for her future to come. I want to change her future, and the future of the women around me. I am currently supporting two great organizations that make a huge difference in the fight against breast cancer.  The first, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) (https://www.bcrf.org/partners/thrivers-circle/pharaoun-cocktail-rings) is the largest private funder of breast cancer research in the world. I created a ring to support them, and I named it after my daughter, Anaïs. I am donating 100% of the purchase price to BCRF, so I am matching your generous contribution with all of the costs of the ring. You can find the ring on my website at https://pharaoun.com/pages/anais-cocktail-ring. The second organization, the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation (http:// www.info-komen.org/goto/pinkkeysociety) also supports research, but I especially care about another of their primary objectives: healthcare equality. Many women are dying in spite of their disease falling into categories that should be curable. We can cure these women, and Komen is working hard to bring the standard of care to all underrepresented communities. To me, this is a civil rights issue, and of critical importance.

The foundation I created in honor of my wife Sarah, the Pink Key Society (https:// pharaoun.com/pages/pink-key-society) will be walking to support the Komen Foundation this October 12 in Miami. If you are interested, please join our team or donate directly on the Komen website (http://www.info-komen.org/goto/ pinkkeysociety). However you can, please join me in the fight. 


AF: What are some aspirations for your brand?

SAM: I am just getting started with Pharaoun Cocktail Rings. There are about a thousand women with my rings today, and I am excited to share my rings with many more. I believe that I will always focus on cocktail rings. Their meaning and symbolism to a woman is too important for the world not to have someone championing them. I hope that I can be that champion.

AF: What message would you share with loved ones who are grieving and/or affected by breast cancer?

SAM: I found it amazing to watch how quickly new medical advances are arriving. Every month of our fight, new and potentially life saving medicines were being approved by the FDA or in clinical trials. If you are in the fight, keep an eye on what is becoming available, it could save your life. I lost my wife to metastatic breast cancer in 2017, and my only sister to a rare form of angiosarcoma (a blood vessel cancer) in 2018. At my sister’s memorial service, I shared the ideas that have helped me. You can read them here: How to Mourn (https:// www.facebook.com/Sergiomendoza/posts/10157206421110016).

AF: Are there any current projects that you are currently pursuing?

SAM: Its really important to me to keep designing new rings that are pushing my ideas of beauty, and I am really excited about some of the designs I will announce this fall. I have a few jaw-dropping event rings that are absolutely stunning, and I am adding some of my iconic designs in silver for the first time. I just started the Pink Key Society (https://pharaoun.com/pages/pink-key-society) to honor my wife Sarah, and after our first event in support of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, we will be supporting other causes. I am excited to work together with some amazing women to make a difference in the lives of others.

AF: What are some positive takeaways you have during this entire process?

SAM: People are amazing! In my life, I have found that the best way to embrace each day is to spend time with others. I find that if I spend time connecting with not only those that are close to me, but also others, I am less likely to forget how similar we are to one another. Thank you for letting me share my story with you.  If you are interested in learning more, please visit my website at Pharaoun.com, or follow me on Facebook (https:// www.facebook.com/pharaounrings/) or Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/pharaouncocktailrings/). Hope you have a wonderful day!

Feature and Cover photograph by Jonathan Dann Photography