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Meet Millie: a soft cup bra designed for women to wear after breast cancer
About Sue Pringle - my personal experience with cancer, and how it inspired me to set up millie lingerie I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002, and underwent three rounds of surgery, including a mastectomy and reconstruction, and five years of hormone therapy. Ten years later I had a recurrence on the same side, with the same cancer. I had another lumpectomy, which meant that my left breast was much smaller, battered, and uneven, and I now wear a breast prosthesis to even out my shape.
I found it almost impossible to find a bra that was not only comfortable, but actually liked. I was reduced to tears repeatedly in changing rooms, leaving feeling disheartened and grumpy. So I decided to turn a grump into a business, and do something about it, for myself, the 50,000 women who are newly diagnosed each year, and the half a million women who are living well after treatment. We all deserve more, and I’m determined to see that we all get it – fabulous, comfortable bras to wear, that help to reduce some of the impacts of breast cancer treatment, and restore some self confidence.
Why is this range of lingerie important to women who have overcome cancer?
Women go through a challenging medical and psychological experience during breast cancer treatment, and they lose something they can never really quite get back. For many women, lingerie is an important expression of their femininity and helps with self confidence; we designed the millie bra to help give them a little bit back. We understand the practical challenges women come up against when trying to find a bra wardrobe to get themselves dressed comfortably and stylishly each day, whether they are
returning to work, going out with friends, getting dressed for a special occasion, or resuming exercise.
Our first bra is a stylish, feminine, soft cup, non-wired lace bra to give women a welcome confidence boost after the rigours of their treatment are over; we hope they will be able to look at themselves in the mirror and think, “I look like me again.” We’ll design bras to wear right after surgery as well, but we first wanted to show that it is entirely possible to feel comfortable and look gorgeous at the same time!
What sets millie’s lingerie apart from the crowd?
There are around 500 lingerie brands in the UK, but only a handful design specifically for women who’ve been through breast cancer treatment. Our starting point was a deep understanding of the ‘medical’ requirements of our wearers, then focusing on the woman
herself, her wishes and hopes, and the things she thinks that she’s not entitled to any longer like pretty straps and lacy details. Breast cancer is something that’s happened to us, it’s a part of us, not a definition, so we’re designing for women, not breast cancer patients.
We’re launching the millie bra with a Kickstarter campaign on Monday 27 February – but how does it work?
Our project goal is to raise £30,000 or more. We plan to use the funds raised to:
- Develop the millie "fit" - the signature for our brand
- Technical size grading and wearer trials
- Cross fitting sizes on a mix of women with different surgery types
- Pre-order materials and components for production
- Manufacture and deliver our first 500+ millie bras
- Complete pattern and grading on our matching knicker
- Expand the bra size range, if we exceed our target of £30K
- Add more bra colours, if we exceed £50K or more
- Begin working on the 'bra wardrobe' we've identified to launch our debut collection, if we exceed £100K or more
What are Kickstarter rewards and how do they work?
Our rewards have all been created around the bra itself, so we expect that many of our backers to be women who have been through breast cancer treatment. We recognise that not everyone will want to wear the bra themselves, so we’ve created
rewards, which allow our backers to Gift a mille bra to someone, they know. If backers don’t know someone personally, but like the idea of Gifting a bra, they can choose our Bra Benefactor Reward. Bras can be Gifted via one of our charity partners, Nottingham Hospitals Charity or Keeping Abreast, and bras will be given to women who might not find it easy to replace all their bras, but would really like a little bit of lingerie magic.
About the millie team
Sue works with designer, Laura Stanford, previously of M&S, Debenhams, and Agent Provocateur, who says millie is the most challenging and inspiring design she's ever created. Pattern and sample makers, Laura and Karen are both Nottinghamshire based.
Tony Jarvis, Sue's mentor, is past Sales & Marketing Director at Triumph UK and MD at Gossard UK, and has advised throughout; he will become millie’s first non executive director later this year.
We're collaborating with Press For Attention on our PR activity, and we’ve had extensive business support from Nottingham Trent University, Medilink, BioCity, Ingenuity Network based at the University of Nottingham, and NBV (Nottingham Business Venture).
• Company website: http://www.millielingerie.com/support-our-kickstarter/
• Kickstarter preview: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/millielingerie/759643462?token=e36fb92a
• Press cover to date: http://www.millielingerie.com/our-story/