I was just your typical happy head-hunter, going about my business without a care in the pre-GFC world, when a gigantic breast cancer shaped bus fell out of the sky and hit me in…would you believe it, October, Breast cancer Awareness Month.
My awareness of breast cancer increased immeasurably, immediately. Pretty much in a weekend, which as it turned out, was all the time I had in between diagnosis and surgery.
The (female) oncologist told me that if I was to get a cancer, this was the one to have, as it was so mainstream.
As my awareness of breast cancer increased, my sense of belonging to the mainstream decreased commensurately.
The learning curve is steep and unpleasant. 1 in 8 of us will be diagnosed with breast cancer. (Did not know that). During treatment we can only wear non-wired bras lined in cotton, for months or years on end. There were none available in my size that weren’t maternity or sports bras. (Also news to me).
Is it not cruel and unusual punishment to plunge a young woman, diagnosed with breast cancer, into early menopause and then force her to wear a maternity bra to see her through radiotherapy treatment?
The injustice plagued me. When I was given the all-clear 5 years later, that stylish and beautiful non-wired bra in a 34DD, still eluded me. They say if you want a job done properly… After two years in development, I quietly launched Bras Without Wires, whilst running another website and working 3 days as head-hunter to subsidise the endeavour.
I’d never worked so hard for so little money. Granted, I had a great non-wired bra collection and a growing handful of very satisfied customers.
After eighteen months, when I was about to break under the strain of 7 day weeks, Bras Without Wires was picked up by the LIVESTRONG Foundation and fast-tracked to the semi-finals of its inaugural Big C Competition – an international competition for business initiates arising out of cancer. We reached the final 20 out of 780 entries from 33 countries and officially became one of the best ideas in the world to improve the lives of people going through cancer treatment. Never under-estimate the importance of a beautiful, well fitting bra!
Bras Without Wires suddenly became ‘something’, I found a like-minded backer, quit my day job and started full-time as CEO (Chief Elastic Officer) this year. I still work 6 days a week, (my dream would have been realised in about 22 years on my previous work schedule across 3 jobs) but I love it! A whole new range is about to launch on line and I am totally in my apple-cart.
There are downsides being a head-hunter/lingerie mogul: I can easily become overwhelmed by the millions of choices for elastic, lace, and my eyes positively glaze over when it comes down to choosing which poly bags for shipment. Don’t even start me on purchasing bar codes.
The upside of head-hunting/lingerie making: I constantly challenge the existing accepted wisdom around non-wired bra making, because I don’t know any better. I also constantly challenge the automatic acceptance of painful wires by a generation of women who have been offered no viable alternative. Many smart and successful friends actually don’t know why bras have wires, just that they do.
But now they don’t! I have ripped up bras, wrapped myself in elastic, stapled foam together, sent embarrassing selfies to colleagues, and worn these prototypes for days – terrified of getting run over, discovered and humiliated in Emergency.
The bras that have emerged are rip-roaring designs in unorthodox fabrics and trims. They hold you up without digging in. These are bras to show off, with a glimpse of metallic shoulder-trap here, or a shimmering wing seen at the side of a low cut singlet there.
Going wireless can be HOT, comfortable, and supportive. Join our movement #womenwithoutwires and wear something for yourself, not for the men in your life.
Although our genesis is my painful BC experience (and all our bras will forever be organic-cotton-lined to suit a woman going through radiotherapy) Bras Without Wires is a brand for every woman who cares what sits next to her skin, and close to her vital organs. It also suits the growing army of women who will go wire free post elective surgery.
I’ll never be able to trip blissfully unaware into another October Breast Cancer Awareness month. And that’s OK too. What I know now, especially about the construction of appropriate bras, is gold. I consider myself a lucky and happy bunny to be healthy, as well as living and sharing my dream.
And for no other reason that we love our breasts, and wish healthy breasts to all, Bras Without Wires will donate $1 for every bra sold to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, Australia’s largest, 100% community funded organisation raising funds for life-changing breast cancer research. Launching late November 2015 here.