Women with disability or physical limitations from illness, temporary injury or surgery can now dress more independently thanks to a new NDIS-approved bra designed in Australia.
BraEasy is designed with velcro side straps and straps that are adjustable from the front, allowing users to fasten the bra with one hand and take it off with just two fingers.
Melbourne-based mother Rachel Whittaker designed and created BraEasy after she struggled to find suitable options for her daughter Jamie-Lee, who suffered a stroke during surgery to remove a rare brain tumour at nine years old.
“It was a really awful thing to go through,” says Mrs Whittaker.
“Jamie-Lee was left with left-side hemiplegia as a result, which means she is visually impaired on one side and can only use one hand.
“When she was 15, I realised that because of her stroke she didn’t have use of both hands to put a bra on. So I went looking far and wide for options.
“I was even hitting up people on Facebook who had patents up to see if they were getting them manufactured, just so I could buy her a bra. There was nothing. I thought, ‘this is not right’, she should be able to walk into a shop and buy a bra like any other woman.”
Deciding she would make one herself, Mrs Whittaker spent months testing variations of handmade designs, researching fabrics and trialling them with Jamie-Lee and her mother-in-law who had developed a frozen shoulder after a fall.
“My mother-in-law loved it too. This got me thinking that there must be others having this issue and struggle that no one has addressed.
“It wasn’t a quick process by any means… it took me over eight months to find the right velcro.”
Mrs Whittaker says BraEasy features allow users to dress quickly, easily and independently without compromising on design.
“It was important to me that it looked like any other bra,” she says.
“One of the things I did notice when I was looking for Jamie-Lee was the lack of nice designs in the marketplace. A lot of the big designers didn’t seem to accomodate for the people who don’t have 100 percent capacity all the time.
“I wanted to create something that looked and felt beautiful, so people weren’t saying 'oh that’s a disability bra'. Fashion needs to work for you, not the other way around.”
NDIS participants who are plan or self-managed can also claim a BraEasy bra under ‘Consumables’ funding in their NDIS plan.
With more designs in the works, including sports bras and bras to accomodate people with a mastectomy, Mrs Whittaker says it’s encouraging and inspiring to hear positive feedback from the community.
“I’m getting emails from women who say I’ve been looking for this for 12 years and they feel feminine and independent again. One hadn’t worn a bra for years, and said she could now dress herself and not feel self conscious in her day-to-day life,” adds Mrs Whittaker.
“When the team and I read these emails we get teary, because it really is life-changing for these women.”
For more information and to order online, visit the BraEasy website.