Seven years ago I was given the keys to Colleen's and it seemed fitting that I reflect on how far I and Colleen's have come, both personally and professionally
I never had any burning desire to be an entrepreneur - I had managed not for profits before and had certianly enjoyed the challenges and loved watching them grow under my leadership but that's not exactly the same as running your own business! However as soon as I heard that Collleen was retiring and selling her business, I knew, just knew that this was what I was meant to do. Diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018, I was a customer of Colleen's and was so grateful to have this amazing service, I just couldn't let it disappear.
It was a steep learning curve, one which I relished. The more I listened to your stories, the more I wanted to offer and that meant moving from Phillip to larger premises in Garran. I had always wanted to shop like I did before my mastectomy, walk into a store that offered me lots of options - so I did just that! But we offer more than choice, we offer understanding, empathy, reassurance and hugs when allowed.
Styles of bras and swimsuits for after surgery have come a long way and I'm proud to say that I've had a small part in the swimwear designs. Designs continue to evolve and I am confident that we will be seeing more stunning designs in 2021 not only for women who have undergone breast surgery but women who don't want to wear under wire bras.
Our wig and turban range has expanded to include very life like Henry Margu wigs and Australian designed Treat Me Treasure Me turbans. We see many women who need our help, whether due to chemotherapy, alopecia or other medical conditions. Our wig room had a makeover last year to create a welcoming and private space.
We had many requests from women for bras for larger cups, women desperately seeking comfort in the right size bra. So I introduced the Wacoal brand which includes Elomi - a fantastic brand who understands D+ cup sizes and have created a truly beautiful range.
More recently we have been fitting all women for their bras, and so our range continues to increase, bit by bit. An uncomfortable bra is akin to wearing shoes too small - you just want to kick them off at the end of the day, but it doesn't have to be that way for your bra!
2020 was a very challenging year! I used the quieter times to reflect on what you want, searched what's available around the world, listened in to other retailer's challenges and solutions and I'm very optimistic for 2021!
On a personal level, looking back over the past 7 years in business, there have been many sleepless nights but mainly due to insomnia or anxiety, a "left over" from treatment. After listening to many podcasts, meditating, taking time out to just be, I can say that both are so much better which contributes greatly to my quality of life. I have accepted that any decision I make is just that, a decision, neither good nor bad and I can always change my mind! I love listening to your stories, your struggles, your wins, your incredible tenacity, strength and sense of humour - you have no idea how many times my spirit has soared on days when I was struggling. We are in this together -and I am so excited for the plans I have for 2021 to continue to build this community, to bring new ideas and watch us soar!