Cincinnati fashion designer Megan Sullivan has married form, function and compassion in her new line of clothing, created for women who have undergone a mastectomy and for those who want to support them. After a successful $35,000 fundraising and Kickstarter campaign in 2017, With Grace B. Bold is now available for sale at withgracebbold.com.
Sullivan’s mother was diagnosed with Stage III breast cancer at the age of 42 when Sullivan was just 9 years old. After undergoing a partial mastectomy, Sullivan watched her mother not only deal with the struggle of recovery, but also with the uncomfortable reality of necessary and bulky post-surgical medical devices. Sullivan says her mom used to pin her mastectomy drain to the inside of her robe with safety pins.
“It wasn’t until I was in my college studies that I realized the vast need and empty marketplace for products catered to women going through the experiences my mom went through. Revisiting her pain points was like reliving her cancer all over again, but I knew then that I was devoted to designing solutions to help women feel confident, elegant, and sophisticated when faced with a breast cancer diagnosis,” says Sullivan in an email exchange.
As an adult, Sullivan used her design knowledge and her mother’s experience to create a garment that can conceal and comfortably hold a post-mastectomy drainage system in place while allowing the wearer to look fashion-forward and stylish at the same time.
“I hope the With Grace B. Bold collection helps women regain a sense of self-identity and confidence, and I hope it helps them to feel beautiful and empowered in a time that I know nothing seems certain,” she says. “I love using the saying, ‘When you look good, you feel good.’ I don’t think there’s any better way to state the importance of fashion and personal identity.”
Sullivan emphasizes that With Grace B. Bold is not a recovery brand — it is instead what she considers a luxury fashion collection “targeted to a niche market of women.”
The fashion line currently offers two styles: the Ann Elizabeth and the Eileen.
The Ann Elizabeth is aimed at those recovering from mastectomy surgery. It is an asymmetrical wrap-closure shirt made of an eco-friendly knit with additional volume to help “offest any loss of breast tissue” the wearer may be facing, and a snap closure and interior ties for easy wear for those with limited arm mobility. Interior stabilizers are woven throughout the shirt to offset the weight of the drains.
The Eileen is for those who want to purchase an item from With Grace B. Bold to help support the brand and its mission, but don’t need the drain pocket.
With Grace B. Bold also offers a “give back” program for those who no longer need their garment to donate it to a woman in need undergoing treatment.
Sullivan aims to expand the brand with a recently received $10,000 Kiva loan.