By Laura Enfield | 12th October 2022
A swimwear designer from Cheltenham is creating a mastectomy line to help women who have had the procedure feel more confident.
Natasha Griggs, founder of Topaz Swimwear, said "perceived loss of femininity" is a major factor for those recovering from the removal of one or both breasts.
Seeing a gap in the market, she decided to create a line that supports women, physically and mentally following their operations.
Speaking to coincide with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Natasha said: "The number of mastectomies is not reflected in the post-surgery swimwear options women encounter.
"Many women are reluctant to go on much-needed holidays or trips to the spa or pool because of their anxiety over how they will look in their swimsuit — which simply should not be the case."
She has partnered with Gloucestershire NHS Foundation Trust for the research stage of the project.
Next she will work with the Gloucester Cancer Institute and the Hospital Charity to gain feedback from patients on the initial designs.
The swimwear will incorporate features such as sewn-in breast pockets for waterproof prosthesis, clickable and attachable pockets, moulded foam underbusts and elastic underbusts with silicone support details. It will also have higher necklines and armholes to help women feel more confident and supported.
Natasha believes every woman has the right to feel 'sexy' in swimwear, irrespective of physical differences.
She said: "One of the major concerns for women after breast surgery is a perceived loss of femininity, which is at the forefront of their post-surgery psychological needs.
"Women post-mastectomy should be empowered to make choices that enhance the image they have.
"Usual options are not designed with the needs of these women in mind.
"They are too low cut under the arms or neckline, leaving scars and prosthetics exposed and sag when wet, which can lead to uneven symmetry that reveals more than intended."
Natasha set up luxury brand Topaz Swimwear in August 2021, creating classic styles with a modern twist.
The business has blossomed with the support of The Growth Hub, a one-stop shop for entrepreneurs in Gloucestershire.
It has provided her with actionable business advice, vital funding and an introduction to the NHS through a competition which led the current collaboration.
Paul Spenley, business guide from The Growth Hub, said: "Topaz Swimwear has come on leaps and bounds in the past few years and working with Natasha and her admirable desire to succeed in her field has been a pleasure.
"This new mastectomy swimwear line is a testament to Natasha's character and the brand's underlying ethos that fashion should be accessible to all."
Natasha said "The Growth Hub has been a reliable port of call throughout my business journey and if it wasn't for them, partnerships like this one would not have been possible.
"They have helped us steer through the crazy time that was the pandemic and I couldn't recommend their services more."