The designer talks about her cancer ordeal -- and the products she's selling to help the cause

By Kate Hogan
Updated October 03, 2011 07:00 PM

Courtesy Betsey Johnson; Inset: Frazer Harrison/Getty

Though Betsey Johnson says she “wouldn’t know a trend if it was kicking me in the face,” this October, she’s helping to set one: creating cute wares to benefit charities during Breast Cancer Awareness month.

The designer has her own line for the cause — goods include socks, a tank, gloves, earrings, a charm bracelet and more — and she recently partnered with Yoplait and Chambord to spread the word, starting with an event at her Soho store on Saturday, where she kicked off BCA month.

A breast cancer survivor herself, Johnson says she knew she wanted to contribute to cancer charities through her design work as soon as she beat the disease. “All I wanted to do was talk about it,” she tells PEOPLE. “[But] I was too scared to talk about it until I was clear of radiation.”

Now cancer-free, she’s happy to do what she can to help, building her line of BCA items and donating the proceeds to Fashion Targets Breast Cancer. “We’re celebrating all month,” she says.

Despite the “unfortunate sorority club of cancer survivors” she considers herself a part of, Johnson says that October isn’t just about raising funds for the cause, but for having fun while doing so — something she strives to accomplish through all of her products. “Put it together the way you want, buy what you love, wear what you love the way you want to wear it,” she says. “I’m just happy if girls like my clothes.”

–Elyse Roth