Sue Pringle, founder of millielingerie.com, was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 40. Having undergone a mastectomy and reconstruction she soon realised how difficult it was to find an attractive bra that had all the sensitive and practical qualities she needed from it. Dissatisfied with the options available to her on the market, Sue used her experience in product development and marketing to turn her ‘grump’ into a business!
Sue joined the Start & Grow programme at NBV in 2016; this helped her to take advantage of ongoing business support provided by business adviser David Hallam.
“During the past two years developing my business ideas, I have learned the value of bringing other people’s insights and experience into my thinking. I thrive on challenges, and being open to other people testing my ideas is really important for me. David has helped me to gain further confidence in my business plan and how to start scaling it ahead of investment and pitching to the lingerie industry, when we develop our launch collection in due course.”
Having mapped her next steps, armed with the ambition and skill to succeed, Sue began the long process of product development needed to create millie: a soft cup, non-wired bra meticulously designed for women to wear after breast cancer. With help from designer Laura Stanford and mentoring from Tony Jarvis (MD at Gossard UK), a year flew by filled with changing pattern samples, refinements and focus groups. During this time, Sue and her team held a ‘Design Day’ – a focus group for women who have all been treated for breast cancer. The group provided valuable feedback and ideas about what they’d liked in the bra, and best of all, they loved the first design, saying it “welcomed them back to lovely lingerie that they didn’t feel entitled to anymore”.
Fast forward to present day, Sue and her team are now ready to take Millie to market, and have chosen to do so by pre-selling the bra on Kickstarter from Monday 27 February. All funds raised will fuel the next technical part of the development process, grading and sizing, and the all- important first manufacturing run. For those who do not need the product personally, contributing to the Kickstarter campaign can still be a rewarding investment via the Gift a Bra to Charity Reward. Sue explains “We’ve partnered with The Nottingham Hospitals Charity and the charity, Keeping Abreast; both support women through some of the difficult times and choices they face during breast cancer treatment. If you choose our Gift a Bra to Charity Reward, we’ll send a bra to a woman who deserves some lingerie loveliness on your behalf, via the two charities, when our bras are ready.
You can Gift a millie to someone special, or treat them to a matching set. You can also contribute to our ‘Bra Kitty’ and club together with other supporters to buy someone a bra.”
The millie bra has already been featured in Underlines Magazine, the UK’s premium lingerie trade magazine, and had mentions from the Huffington Post and Telegraph, before they’ve even seen the bra!
If you can help Sue and team get millie to their target of £30,000 you can visit their Kickstarter page.
To learn more about how you can take advantage of NBV’s Start & Grow programme (with a typical support package worth £5000) visit our Start & Grow page.