Accessibility April 5, 2021
Australian mom’s adaptive bra invention for disabled daughter can help all women dress independently
Be it using the hooks or adjusting the straps, women with disabilities face many struggles when it comes to wearing a bra. BraEasy, the Australian lingerie company, is out to change that with its one handed adaptive bra.
In 2009 Rachel Whittaker’s youngest daughter Jamie-Lee was nine years old when she was diagnosed with a oligodendroglioma. This is a tumour that can occur in the brain or spinal cord. It is found primarily in adults but children are also affected. The survival rate of this tumour in children is 23%.
The Whittakers, who live in Australia, opted for surgery to remove the tumour. During the surgery Jamie-Lee suffered a deep brain stroke, leaving her with no mobility in the left hand or arm. She also had to learn how to walk again. Her eyes were damaged, and she is now partially blind in each eye.
Existing designs hard to wear
Today Jamie-Lee is 21 years old. With radiotherapy and chemotherapy and the support of her family, she has survived the cancer. As she grew older, she had to negotiate the challenges of day-to-day living. One of them was how to wear a bra.
Jamie-Lee found regular bras impossible for her to use independently with one hand. T-shirt bras were a big struggle as well and Rachel was on the lookout for something better. She soon realised there was nothing out there and this was the start of her mission to design an alternative. Her search led her to a patent application for a bra designed by Amy Jean Liguori in New York. Amy had been a lingerie designer prior to experiencing a stroke.
“This (Amy’s) was a great product however it did not solve the issue for Jamie-Lee”, said Rachel in an email interview to Newz Hook. She messaged Amy on Facebook asking if she had been able to have this product made anywhere. “I thought at least if I purchase it and customise it, Jamie will have something to wear.” Amy had developed the patent after she found the existing bra designs inaccessible but had been unable to get the patent through. “This was so touching to identify with someone so very far away from Australia”, adds Rachel, “that across the globe many women were having the same issue of putting on and taking off a bra quickly and easily”.
This inspired Rachel to work on a design that would enable all women to dress themselves quickly and easily.
The gaps in the adaptive bra market that are currently out there exist due to the fact that you still need two hands, with agile fingers, and two working arms to put them on. The BraEasy bra is different in that you can put it on with one hand, and take it off with just two fingers. BraEasy is designed for women who are elderly, disabled, injured or limb different. It is also ideal for women who use a wheelchair, as it fastens at the side, hence there are no metal eyes or hooks in the back. – Rachel Whittaker, Owner, BraEasy Pty Ltd
How BraEasy works
Rachel took just over three years researching and testing various materials and designs to arrive at the final product. The Jamie range, named after their daughter, comes in shades of black and white. “The material we use in this range is four-way stretch Spacer Fabric, that is both tough, durable, but super soft and comfortable’, says Rachel. “The way the bra is engineered, coupled with the fabric enables it to hold its shape really well. Add to this some strategically placed boning, all of which enables the user to easily put it on with just one hand”. The bra can be removed easily by using just two fingers as well.
BraEasy has received positive feedback as “practical with hints of femininity”. One customer wrote on the website, “I’m just so happy to find a bra that I’ll be able to put on! And it’s not just a soft awful thing which pulls on over your head. I can’t wait to be able to put a bra on”. BraEasy has also been approved for the Australian National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) .
Rachel wants to “make designs and styles that women love and enjoy. Bringing the independence of dressing and feeling sexy.” She plans to take BraEasy global and expand the range. Click here to know more about BraEasy.
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