A DAAP graduate recently launched her own fashion label of luxurious post-mastectomy womenswear after watching her own mother battle breast cancer.
Megan Sullivan’s world was changed when her mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Sullivan was nine years old and, at the age of 42, her mother was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer.
“The cancer had spread to her lymph nodes, so her surgery was extensive and recovery was strenuous,” recalls Sullivan. “Like many women who undergo treatment for breast cancer, she was sent home with a surgical drain immediately following her partial mastectomy to allow the fluids to drain from her incision.”
But, like many medical devices, the drain was designed for function, not fashion. Sullivan says her mom’s drain was so bothersome to her that she would attach the tubes with a safety pin, which improved her mobility, and that sparked the idea for more modifications. “After watching her go through everything she went through, I was inspired to do something to help all women who are faced with battling breast cancer,” she says.
After speaking with several other women who were also at home with drains, and hearing similar instances of how bothersome the drain was, Sullivan was inspired to launch her own fashion label that offers a luxurious collection of post-mastectomy womenswear.
“The brand, With Grace B. Bold, is dedicated to women who have undergone a mastectomy in the treatment of breast cancer,” explains Sullivan. “The collection highlights two staple pieces as part of its debut – the Ann Elizabeth, which stylishly conceals the surgical drain women are required to wear home from the hospital follow their breast cancer surgery, and The Eileen, which is the same garment as the Ann Elizabeth minus the drain pocket.”
The Eileen is a staple piece for any wardrobe, according to Sullivan, and allows women who haven’t personally experienced a diagnosis with breast cancer to support the brand. Sullivan even has an entire collection designed beyond these two staple pieces, which is one of the main reasons she launched a Kickstarter – so she could continue building and growing her brand.
Sullivan is a one-woman team when it comes to With Grace B. Bold, and hopes that she will be able to not only continue to build her brand through her Kickstarter, but also wants to be able to start hiring a team to help her through future growth.
Sullivan says that assuming she meets her Kickstarter goal, she will have products shipped to customers no later than June 2018. “I have fantastic manufacturing partners and material suppliers that are ready to go once I’m ready to place orders,” she says. “I’m working now to establish relationships with local stores and boutiques to start selling the collection through several outlets once product is manufactured. I also have a fantastic relationship with area hospitals who are willing to help get my product directly to women as they are diagnosed.”
While the idea behind With Grace B. Bold’s womenswear is not brand new, the product’s design and intent are what make it so unique. It’s designed to be a luxury fashion label dedicated strictly to the post-mastectomy market.
“It’s really amazing how many products have come onto the market since my mom’s diagnosis over 15 years ago,” she says. “When I first started working on this in college, there really was hardly anything that was designed to hold the drains, other than medical-looking velcro belts and pocketed camisoles.”
Today, many of the products on the market are loungewear-based, but With Grace B. Bold products are designed to fit into a woman’s fashionable wardrobe to wear out to events, to work, and to continue living their daily lives. “So many women remain active throughout the time their drains are in place, many return to work and go about their day-to-day lives,” says Sullivan. “And With Grace B. Bold accompanying them and meeting their needs along the way.”
Sullivan says that now is the time she needs the most funding, as it will allow her to manufacture the garments of With Grace B. Bold and get them in the hands of the women who need them. If you don’t need a With Grace B. Bold garment, you can participate in the “giveback program,” which allows you to gift a garment to a local breast cancer center or breast cancer organization, who can then give it to a woman in need.
Sullivan’s Kickstarter campaign ends on November 12. To learn more about the brand, her Kickstarter, and to pledge to her campaign, click here. You can also follow With Grace B. Bold on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.