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£10,198 pledged of £30,000 goal
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£10,198 pledged of £30,000 goal
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About this project

Let's get women dressed with confidence

millie was conceived during an emotional moment in a changing room when founder, Sue Pringle first realised how hard it was to find a suitable bra after her breast surgery. Following four operations for breast cancer, and a recurrence ten years on, she understood, like thousands of other women, that she couldn’t wear a standard bra anymore, and how limited her choices were. 

Sue was left wondering, "Are these the only choices I have? Is it just me or are there other women who feel the same way?" 

Grumpy, but determined to find a solution, Sue researched the scale of the problem, discovering that women face a bewildering series of lingerie problems or “moments” that are hard to solve after surgery and treatment.  50,000 women in the UK alone are diagnosed with breast cancer every year, and 500,000 more live with the impact of it in their lives. 

Our original research has identified that 99% of women immediately replace their entire bra wardrobe after breast surgery, and it’s a difficult, frustrating search to find a suitable bra. Their dissatisfaction levels are high, especially in terms of design choice and comfort levels [source: millie lingerie survey]. 

In 2015, using funds raised from a successful Kickstarter campaign, Sue began prototyping her first bra design. 

What are our project goals?

To pre-sell 500 or more bras as a reward - to wear oneself, Gift to someone special, or Gift to a Charity. 

The funds will fuel our progress to the next phase of our technical development, which includes grading and fitting. 

Funds raised will also fund our first production run, so we can launch the first millie bra to market; the first step in developing our launch collection with more designs, which will follow the Kickstarter.

When we've sent all the millie bra rewards out to their recipients, we'll ask them how it feels to actually wear the bra, giving us vital feedback for our ongoing product development, and further proof of market to future trade customers.

If prototyping was our first chapter, this is second; scaling the business into manufacture and beyond. Your pledges will be the financial oxygen we need to take this pre-trading business to investors, and onto market.

What's special about a millie bra?

millie is a soft cup, non-wired, pocketed bra designed especially for women to wear after breast cancer treatment. 

Our first design beautifully addresses all the essential needs of our wearers, such as a pocketed lining (to add a breast prosthesis), and soft, breathable, supportive fabrics and elastics, all sensitively harmonised. We've carefully added feminine accents, delicate lines, and a soft stretch lace that won't irritate delicate skin.

Our volunteers asked for a bra they can wear once the initial rigours of their surgery and treatment are over, something gorgeous to help them to reconnect with their femininity. So that's what we've given them, a little bit of comfortable gorgeousness.

More information on the bra can be seen by visiting our website.

 

Our first design is the blue print for the bra wardrobe we'll design next, which includes a soft bra to wear right after surgery, sleep bras, non-wired bras for every day, special occasion bras (with ta dah!), and sports and activity bras.

Our rewards

We’ve designed our rewards [on the right ⇒] to make sure everyone can get involved in our project - women, men, children, friends, family, near and far.

Our rewards all revolve around the bra itself, so whether you want a bra to wear yourself, or as a Gift for someone else, it’s easy to support us.

“What if I don’t need a bra myself?” Neil, one of our previous backers asked us, with a slightly bashful look on his face. He is supporting our project again, so we told him about our Gift a Bra to Charity Reward, here’s how it works:

We’ve partnered with charity, Keeping Abreast and The Nottingham Hospitals Charity; 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. For more information, please see below.

How we plan to spend the funds:

  • Developing the millie "fit" - the signature for our brand 
  • Technical size grading and wearer trials 
  • Cross fitting sizes on a mix of women with different surgery types
  • Pre-order materials and components for production
  • Manufacture and deliver our first 500+ millie bras 
  • Complete pattern and grading on our matching knicker 
  • Expand the bra size range, if we exceed our target of £30K 
  • Add more bra colours, if we exceed £50K or more 
  • Begin working on the 'bra wardrobe' we've identified to launch our debut collection, if we exceed £100K or more

Building our business

We're already collaborating with experts in the lingerie industry. Our designer, Laura Stanford, has worked on major high street and designer brands including M&S and Agent Provocateur. Sue's mentor Tony Jarvis, was the Sales and Marketing Director of Triumph UK, and MD of Gossard UK before retiring. 

Tony says: "It is such a joy to work with someone so inspirational as Sue. She shows real passion and determination in her desire to 'make a difference' to the lives of so many women. This is clearly being shown in the work she has already put into developing this unique bra."

The product development team also includes a garment technologist and a sample maker, with years of combined expertise.

Materials and components have been sourced and trialled from all around the world, many provided free of charge because our new partners see the importance of what we’re doing, and want to be a part of it. 

The prototype has taken a year to complete, and has been taken through multiple rounds of design development. The bra is presently in pre-production technical development and costing with premium quality manufacturing partners, which few startups have access to.

Following a [hopefully] successful Kickstarter campaign, we plan to raise further investment to develop our launch collection, to prepare a our pitch to the lingerie trade, and bring our debut collection to the high street and specialist lingerie retailers. We've already been approached by BBC Dragons' Den, it was too soon, but what a vote of confidence!

We've been featured by the UK's leading lingerie trade magazine, Underlines, and had mentions from The Telegraph, The Huffington Post, and The Nottingham Post.

Size charts and Fitting Guides

Our size chart shows our initial range in the boxes. We'll do our very best to add more sizes if we exceed our Kickstarter target.

 

We will send out more information after the project closes to help with size selection when we complete the technical work on grading and fit. If you'd like to be a Fitting Volunteer, sign up on our website.


Knickers will be available in sizes 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, and 16.

Our charity partners

We are delighted to be working with Nottingham Hospitals Charity (registered charity number 1165397) which funded the Bra Shop at the Nottingham Breast Institute, opened in October 2016. The Bra Shop stocks a range of bras and swimwear designed especially for women who have had breast surgery. It is the only hospital-based bra shop outside London.

Keeping Abreast (registered charity number 1129522) are passionate about providing women with all the information and support they need to make an informed choice of whether breast reconstruction is right for them, and then be there to support them with the ongoing journey and further decisions.

They say, "We are delighted to be working in partnership with Millie Lingerie as a partner in their Kickstarter programme. We are looking forward to providing any gifted bras to women who have had breast reconstruction and are looking for a piece of lingerie that will give them that much need confidence boost."

We chose these partners because Sue, millie's Founder, was treated successfully in Nottingham, and the bra shop is hopefully the first of many more in the NHS. At the time of her mastectomy ten years ago, Sue found it very difficult to make a decision about reconstruction, and Keeping Abreast now fully supports hundreds of women in that same, daunting place.

Both charities help women to live with the impact of their treatments, kinder and better.

 

 

Tried & tested

As a Senior Product and Marketing expert with blue chip companies including Boots and Interflora, Sue Pringle knows the importance of establishing a genuine unmet market need, and if it can be commercialised. Of an estimated 500 lingerie brands in the UK, only a handful target the needs of this group of women; there is a clear, addressable gap.

Ideas have been researched and tested and with a group of over 100 women, all of whom have been successfully treated for breast cancer, to shape the design, including an online survey, phone calls, and face-to-face interviews. We've shared the bra development at Design and Filming Days, and materials and components have been tested for suitability and softness. 

We plan to continue involving our volunteers in the next stage of the project in our fitting and wearer trials; it's vital.

Q & A

How do I select my size?

First, check if we have your size on the chart above. When the project closes, we'll send out a size survey for you to tell us which size you would like. If we don't have your size yet, please send us an enquiry and we'll do our best to include it.

If you are choosing a Gift for someone you know, you'll need to check their size first to make sure we have it. When the project closes, we'll send out a survey, and ask for their size, and the recipients name and address. You'll be able to add a personalised Gift message too.

What happens if I'm Gifting my Bra Reward to a Charity?

We will lease with your chosen charity on your behalf and sort out what sizes they need.

What if my bra doesn’t fit properly when it arrives? 

We want you to be delighted with your millie bra, and that includes making sure you have the best fitting size for you. Using the information in the chart above, together with the survey information we will send to you when the project closes, we will do our absolute best to make sure that everyone receives their first choice on size for their new bra. 

When your bra arrives, if you find your size isn’t quite right, you can return your unworn millie bra, with the tags still on and in its original packaging please. Once we've sent out everyone else's rewards, we will send you another size from our selected range, as shown. 

We'll need you to cover the cost of sending it back to us, and unfortunately we are unable to offer exchanges on international rewards. The knickers for hygiene reasons are non-returnable.   

Will you be adding more sizes?

Yes, we will add more sizes as soon as we can, but this may take a while depending how funding goes. If you're size isn't in our initial range, please send us an enquiry and we'll add your request to our list, and do our best to include it. 

Can I choose which Charity I'd like to support?

Yes, we will send you a survey when the project closes and you can nominate your preferred charity if you wish to. We'll let you know when your bra has been Gifted as well.

Risks and challenges

Whilst we build new working partnerships with suppliers and manufacturers there will be unforeseen challenges along the way which could cause delays.
This entire project is highly technical, things might not go quite to time and plan, but it's what we learn from this that matters so we can deliver the best product to you and to market.

We have a lot of work to do to deliver our promise on sizing and fit to ensure every woman who wears a millie is delighted with her bra. We promise we will deliver.

Please note - exact materials may vary slightly from those seen as we go through the next stage of the development process. The design and quality will be assured.

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Questions about this project? Check out the FAQ

Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £5 or more About $6

    millie 'Supporter'

    Pardon the pun, but that's literally what we need. Trust us to do what we say we'll do, and support our project with a gift that we can put to very practical use. Every penny will go towards technical development time, or meterage of fabric and elastics we can use to make a millie bra.

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    Pledge £15 or more About $19

    Bra Kitty gift

    Sue's daughter Rebecca came up with this reward, so she and her friends can club together to gift a millie bra to someone. It works by adding your contribution to our bra ‘kitty’, and we’ll simply divide the kitty out into how many bras it will fund.
    Here’s why - after breast cancer, it sometimes difficult to afford new bras and some women have to make do with bras that aren't really suitable; with your gift, they won't have to. If you like the idea of helping someone to enjoy some much needed lingerie therapy, choose our Bra Kitty reward. It will go towards the costs of a millie bra to be gifted to the Nottingham Hospitals Charity or the charity, Keeping Abreast.

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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge £45 or more About $56

    Be the first to wear a millie

    How would you like to be one of the first women to wear a beautiful soft cup, non-wired millie bra? Here's your chance to reserve your bra from our first ever production. Choose from our launch size range, and when it's ready, we'll send it for you to wear and enjoy.
    Be on the team that takes millie all the way to market - and help us create the designs for our debut collection.
    (If we haven’t got your size yet, please enquire, and we’ll do our best to include it.)

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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge £45 or more About $56

    Gift a millie to someone special

    This a very practical way to support someone close who's been through breast cancer treatment, because it's sometimes hard to know how you can help them. Your gift of a millie bra will remind them of just how special they really are. You'll need to check their size to be sure we can send their size. We'll gift wrap their new millie bra, adding a personal message, so you can bring a special smile to someone's face you'd like to see light up.
    (If we don't have the right size, please enquire and we'll do our best to include it.)

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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge £45 or more About $56

    Gift a bra to Charity

    Without stating the obvious, not everyone will want a bra for themselves, so this reward is for you.
    After breast cancer, 99% of women replace their entire bra wardrobe and it can be difficult to afford new bras. Many women ‘make do' with bras that aren't suitable, but with your gift, they won't need to. If you like the idea of Gifting someone much needed lingerie therapy, this is the reward for you.
    Your pledge will cover the cost of one millie bra, which we will gift to a woman on your behalf via the Nottingham Hospitals Charity, or Keeping Abreast charity.
    Your gift will not only help dress someone more comfortably, but will help us refine our design ideas as well via their feedback, so your gift will be helping the project twice.

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge £60 or more About $75

    Treat yourself to a matching set

    When we gathered some of our millie friends together at our first ever Design Day, they told us with a resounding "yes please" that they'd like a matching set of bra and knickers. So we've created an elegant short style knicker, with lace detailing to match the bra.
    Select your matching bra and knicker set from our size chart, and when they're ready, we'll send them to you for you to enjoy, and invite you tell us what you think about them.
    (If we haven’t got your size yet, please enquire, and we’ll do our best to include it.)

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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge £60 or more About $75

    Gift a matching set

    Gift a set with a millie bra and matching knickers.
    You'll need to ask your friend what size she is to select your matching bra and knickers set from our size range shown on the chart. If we don’t have her size yet, please ask, and we’ll do our best to include it.
    When the set is ready, we'll gift wrap it, including your personal message, and send it to your special friend or relative to enjoy.
    If you prefer, you can gift a matching set to one of our charities, please take a look at our ‘Gift a bra to charity’ reward to see how it works.

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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge £150 or more About $187

    Be a millie Design Curator

    This is a unique opportunity to roll your designer sleeves up, and get involved as a millie Design Curator. In this hands on role, you’ll be helping us to make sure that the millie brand stays true to the wants and needs of the women we are designing for.

    Twice yearly, you'll be given personal access to key stages of our development process, and invited to contribute to our key design decisions. If you're someone who enjoys fashion, and has always wondered what it’s like behind the scenes, this could be the perfect reward for you.

    Join us as we swoon over new lace designs, check out the latest seasons colours, and help us to test new materials and components for softness and comfort. You have a special seat on the front row of our design process, the only requirement is natural curiosity, and whether you've had breast cancer or not, we’d be delighted to involve you.

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  9. Select this reward

    Pledge £180 or more About $224

    Gift a bundle of bras to charity

    So, you don’t need a millie bra yourself, but you’d like to help make a difference?
    After breast cancer, 99% of women replace their entire bra wardrobe and it can be difficult to afford new bras. Many women ‘make do' with bras that aren't suitable, but with your gift, they won't need to.
    If you like the idea of helping someone to enjoy some much needed lingerie therapy, this is the reward for you. Your reward covers the cost of four millie bras, which we will gift on your behalf via the Nottingham Hospitals Charity, or the charity, Keeping Abreast. To show our commitment to helping women get dressed, we'll top your gift up, by adding another bra, and together we'll get five women dressed.
    Your gift will also help us to refine our design ideas as well via their feedback, so your gift will be supporting the project twice.
    To say 'Thank You', we'll send you a card to let you know when your bras have been gifted to your chosen charity.

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  10. Select this reward

    Pledge £1,000 or more About $1,247

    Founding Benefactor

    This is our invitation to help us in a very practical way, delivering a product to market with a clear social and psychological impact on women's lives. This is 'Just Giving' at a very high level, and your gift will bring financial oxygen to our business to help us take our first product to market.

    As a Founding Benefactor, you’ll bring your profile, experience, and personal strengths to influence and benefit our venture, with a public presence, an advocate for our brand communications.

    If something low key and more personal is more like you, simply support us from the wings, knowing that you're a crucial part of our journey ahead.

    If you’re representing an organisation, we can explore a gentle alignment of your aims with ours. We’re not looking for sponsorships as such, but there’s plenty of scope to generate positive PR and raise awareness of the impact our business will make, this is cause marketing with a twist.

    By choosing this reward you will inject funds to help us build a viable, scalable business, and give us headspace before we begin the investment cycle. We understand the value of collaboration, so let’s collaborate, starting with some lunch with millie’s founder, Sue Pringle.

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Funding period

- (35 days)