My love for lingerie has always been something to empower myself with. Right fit in bras and briefs, are important to me. The delicate silk and lace fabrics that lie against my skin to help support and uplift me in my everyday outfits, is something I value very much. Feeling pretty in the underthings that help my mind, body and spirit feel good is very privately empowering. One of my reasons in founding Intimatlais and be a Lingerie Stylist to help all women be empowered the same, ensuring they are correctly fitted to support them in their everyday lives.
I cannot fathom how I would feel should I be a breast cancer survivor in a world where all the delicate pieces of lingerie I love not exist in my reality as they once did before would be devastating. This is why I chose to dedicate my first lingerie blog to a beautiful confident and sexy survivor who not only shares the view of “why a bra that had a purpose of function and comfort could not be married with style, fashion and colour” but has contributed to the community in creating it.
Allow me to introduce to you my Intimateview with the founder and Creator of Red Fern Lingerie, Tina Doueihi. I had the pleasure of having a chat about an inspiring and rewarding view about the beauty in what lies beneath.
Tina, can you share with me and my readers your own personal experience with Breast Cancer?
I was 37 when I was diagnosed. It was a complete shock. I was young and healthy and there was no family history of the disease. I was fortunate that I was diagnosed early and aggressive treatment worked. I had a mastectomy with an immediate reconstruction, 5 months of chemo and now I am taking tamoxifen. The care I received from my medical team and my support network
was fantastic. There are not enough words to describe the empathy, care and support I received.
What motivated you to start Red Fern Lingerie and your path into the industry?
I have always loved lingerie. I had drawers full of lingerie – ranging from bright and colourful to elegant and sexy. Lingerie was my special treat and always made me feel fantastic. I started Red Fern Lingerie because of my experience shopping for lingerie post
surgery. I was referred to a specialist mastectomy boutique to be fitted into a mastectomy
bra. At the appointment I was professionally fitted into a bra. The fit was fantastic and the comfort was great. Unfortunately, the style of the bra was clinical and functional.
I asked the fitter if there were other options re colour, fabrics, lace and the response was no. I was close to tears. I was unable to understand why a bra that had a purpose of function and comfort could not be married with style, fashion and colour. This started me thinking about my sister survivors who have a mastectomy yet do not have a reconstruction and how unfair it was that they were limited in their style choices. It was my love of lingerie and my strong belief in choice that led me to create my brand. I believe my sister survivors deserve the same choice in lingerie that we enjoyed before our diagnosis and treatment took it away.
When creating your lingerie range, who is the woman in your mind that you are designing
for and where do you go to find inspiration for her?
The woman who is in my mind when creating our lingerie is my sister survivor. My sister survivors are strong women and they want to feel like the women they are not the breast cancer patient. Unfortunately, the lingerie offered pretty much makes one feel like a patient in their boring and clinical designs, styles and lack of colour. Our lingerie celebrates women. We celebrate our sister survivors through choice, strength, fun and so much more.
I am not a survivor but love your designs and colours in both your lingerie ranges. I found the fit to be very supportive. How have other survivors taken to your style, designs and brand?
Thank you Susan. Women have taken to the brand with enthusiasm. I am receiving many emails telling me how they love the lingerie and that the fit is comfortable. Our model, Lisa, said she no longer needs to adjust her prosthetic because our pockets are secure. I also had a customer personally call me to let me know she loved our lingerie and so did her husband. Women are loving having a real choice returned to them. They also know that I understand them as I am survivor too. I always say “that I may have lost a breast, but I have not lost my essence or soul that makes me a woman”.
What has been the highlight of your brand?
There have been many highlights since our launch last year in May 2015. We were featured in many blogs by respected Lingerie experts such as. The Breast Life, Kimmay and Lingerie Briefs. We were also interviewed by The Lingerie Journal. We had an amazing start this year for our brand. We were invited to participate in the gifting suite in honour of the 2016 Academy Awards which we happily accepted. It was an honour and privilege to be placed alongside high-end luxury brands and have an amazing opportunity to bring awareness of mastectomy lingerie into the mainstream.
I was also interviewed by Carrie Brickmore and Waleed Aly from The Project TV.
To be on Australian national prime time TV was an amazing experience and again a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness that breast cancer survivors are women who want to wear gorgeous lingerie and bring the brand into the mainstream. A few days after the interview I flew to new York to exhibit at a lingerie trade-fair, Curve NY. This placed Red Fern Lingerie in front of serious buyers and lingerie reviewers. Everyone absolutely loved the brand and we have since gained new stockists in the USA. Also at Curve NY we were the only lingerie brand in the entire trade-fair that purely focused on mastectomy wear. There was a fashion runway show which we participated in using models who were breast cancer survivors. Another highlight was our brand was the first mastectomy lingerie brand to be featured in Curve NY fashion runway show.
How important is it for you to bring Mastectomy Lingerie into the mainstream?
Extremely important. I don’t like how mastectomy lingerie is hidden in the back corner of department stores and boutiques. My sister survivors and I deserve a real choice and that choice needs to be in the open alongside mainstream brands. By bringing mastectomy lingerie into the mainstream we stop the “us and them” issue. It also helps in the emotional healing when you shop for lingerie that is located alongside other mainstream brands. It returns the choice and gives the women empowerment. We are all women and we are in this together. We all need lingerie and we need that choice to be open and accessible.
Are the models pictured in your lingerie also breast cancer survivors?
Yes. One of our brand’s core value is to only use breast cancer survivors as our models. When a sister survivor sees our brand modelled by a breast cancer survivor, there is an instant connection. The connection is breast cancer, beautiful lingerie, being a strong woman…the list goes on. Our brand is about returning the choice in lingerie and also connecting with our tribe of women. Our model Lisa is a breast cancer survivor who had a mastectomy and no reconstruction. In all the photos she is wearing her prosthetic and you can see the joy in her eyes wearing our lingerie.
I couldn’t help but notice while researching your brand that one of your favourite
songs is “I AM WOMAN” by Helen Reddy. Can you share with my readers why this
song resonates with you?
I absolutely love this song. It is about life, highs and lows and how our experiences teach us lessons and make us stronger and wiser. The words – “Oh yes, I am wise….But it’s wisdom born of pain….Yes, I’ve paid the price….But look how much I gained….If I have to, I can do anything” pretty much sums up my experience with breast cancer.
Thank you Tina, for a wonderful view into your personal life experience with breast cancer and introducing Intimatlais to your beautiful and luxurious brand to empower not only survivors but all women. To view the beautiful lingerie pieces please go to the Red Fern Lingerie Website at www.redfernlingerie.com