Red Fern Lingerie
Alyssa-Marie Mastectomy Bra and G-string.
“Creating Red Fern Lingerie and my first range has helped me reclaim the confidence in my body, self and soul. By creating a brand that truly understands my sister survivors it brings me joy to see women feel fantastic again.” – Tina Doueihi, Red Fern Lingerie.
by Michelle Broomes
It is always a pleasure for us at TLJ to share the story of another heroine who has come through adversity and used her experience to positively affect the lives of women who face similar challenges, letting them know that they are not alone.
Breast cancer survivor Tina Doueihi, who was diagnosed in 2008, used her disappointment with finding favourable post-surgery lingerie as her inspiration for creating her own beautiful brand. Spoilt by her love of luxury makes like Simone Pérѐle, La Perla and Chantelle with which she previously adorned herself, Tina could not envision just simply giving up fashion for function after her treatment for breast cancer. She ideally wanted both concepts built into her lingerie and was quite sure that other women on their recovery journey wanted the same as well.
Consequently, out of her desire to re-outfit herself in functional yet stylish, modern, feminine and sexy post-surgery intimate apparel- and help other survivors do the same- the Australian entrepreneur founded her brand Red Fern lingerie a few years later. Her first collection “Joy of Marie” was launched earlier this year. But Tina’s efforts have not stopped there.
Besides working on making her brand a success both in Australia and internationally, she works with her local breast cancer charities promoting awareness of the disease and raising funds for research and treatment.
However, she made time to speak to TLJ and tell us more about her brand and her work in the fight against the disease that changed the course of her life.
Q&A with Tina Doueihi, founder of Red Fern Lingerie
Amelia-Marie Mastectomy Bra and Brief.
Tina, why did you choose the name Red Fern to represent your brand?
I called the brand/business Red Fern Lingerie because I grew up in Redfern (an inner-city suburb in Sydney) and I have such wonderful memories of my childhood and early adulthood. I am also inspired by my parents who worked incredibly hard to give my sisters and I a good life. This is my ‘roots’ and I felt that my passion had to incorporate this heritage of love, courage and hard work.
What is it about your brand Red Fern that sets it apart from other brands that specialize in post mastectomy lingerie?
Red Fern Lingerie is created by a survivor (me) for survivors. I understand the struggle to find lingerie post-surgery/ treatment that meets the needs of functionality and comfort and combines this with our desire to feel like the women we are by wearing modern and stylish designs.
Camellia-Marie Mastectomy Bra and Brief.
Your current collection is called “Joy of Marie”. Does this hold a special meaning for you?
Yes it does. I was raised Catholic and have always looked to Mother Mary for guidance and help. I truly believe that during my diagnosis and treatment, she brought me calm in a time of turmoil. When I was researching and testing it was difficult for me. I am new to the industry and I had no experience or knowledge. There were many ‘fails’ in the samples that were returned to me. I was close to giving up and prayed for guidance which led me to further research and finding key people to work with me and on the brand. The joy I felt in being able to move forward with the brand, thanks to Mary, is the reason the collection is named “Joy of Marie’
Can you walk us briefly through the collection, as to why you have chosen these shapes, fabrics and colourways used in Joy of Marie?
My first collection was inspired by the high-end lingerie labels such as Simone Pérѐle and Chantelle. I chose the full cup shape to meet the need to securely and comfortably fit the breast prosthesis and lined the pocket in cotton for added comfort to the wearer who may suffer side-effects from treatment and medication. The Joy of Marie collection has a mixture of beautiful delicate embroidery, lace and colourful prints. I wanted to give my sister survivors the choice of basics that every woman wants: beige and black, with a twist. My love of delicate European lace came into play with Amelia-Marie and Camellia-Marie. My love of colour came into play with Caitlin-Marie and Alyssa-Marie.
As on as online boutique, do you have a particular way of advising ladies as to how to work out what size and style best suits their needs?
I understand that bra fit is extremely important for the prosthesis, as well as comfort and style. I also understand that there is no uniform sizing in lingerie – every brand and the style they offer varies in measurements.
Ideally, I would recommend that our customers are professionally fitted every 6 months to ensure that they are wearing the correct size bra. I recommend this because a woman’s body is constantly changing and that change includes breast(s). As an online store, I understand that physically trying the bra on before purchase is not possible and provide our customer with detailed instructions on how to measure herself, sizing charts and helpful tips.
Caitlin-Marie (CoralBlack) Mastectomy Bra and Brief.
“Red Fern Lingerie is created by a survivor (me) for survivors.”
What’s been the response to your brand and collection so far?
The response to my brand and collection has been fantastic so far. Red Fern Lingerie was featured in The Sunday Telegraph, Shop Smart Top Picks recently and also had a wonderful review by Elisabeth Dale of The Breast Life. The brand was also tweeted recently alongside Stella McCartney!! Also, a few fashion and lifestyle bloggers have posted about the brand. It is wonderful to see that Red Fern Lingerie is touching women and helping them too.
On a local level in Australia, the response has also been great. We are stocked in well-known and respected mastectomy boutiques in Sydney and Canberra and working towards being stocked across Australia. Internationally, CureDiva, has been one of my greatest supports. In New Zealand, Tara Swimwear has been fabulous.
The customers love our lingerie and have taken the time to write to me and thank me for helping them reclaim their body confidence and femininity – the very reason why I started the brand.
Do you have a personal favourite piece in Joy of Marie that makes you feel particularly sexy and glamourous?
I love wearing Amelia-Marie. Amelia-Marie is similar to what I used to wear before diagnosis and treatment. I also love Alyssa-Marie because it is so bright and playful and honestly makes me smile when I wear it.
It seems likely that post-surgery women who find it challenging to find lingerie might also find it challenging to find other products like swimwear, for example. Will you be launching into other products besides bras? If so, when can we expect this?
The long-term vision is to expand the brand’s offering, although this is a few years away. It has taken me close to four years in research, development, samples, testing and I know it will take time to create the swimwear line as I need to ensure the fabrics, construction of the swimwear and the fit are perfect. The bio-dynamics of a woman’s body post mastectomy bring into play added challenges to consider [as well as] research and testing to ensure the product will meet the needs of our customer.
Caitlin-Marie (CoralBlack) Mastectomy Bra and Brief.
Besides being a businesswoman you are also involved in charity work around breast cancer. What part does your brand play in your charity work?
I love giving back to the community that gave me so much hope during my diagnosis and treatment and continues to this day. I am an Ambassador and member of the Speakers Bureau for the National Breast Cancer Foundation in Australia and speak at events to raise awareness of this horrible disease [as well as] funds for much needed research. I am also a member of the review and survey group for the Breast Cancer Network Australia.
On a business level, we ask our customers at checkout to nominate a charity who they would like a donation to go to and, at the end of the financial year, Red Fern Lingerie donates to the charity with the most nominations. This year we donated to the National Breast Cancer Foundation.
Overall, how has creating the Red Fern Lingerie brand and your collection, Joy of Marie, helped your personal recovery journey since your own diagnosis?
Creating Red Fern Lingerie and my first range has helped me reclaim the confidence in my body, self and soul. By creating a brand that truly understands my sister survivors it brings me joy to see women feel fantastic again. It was amazing to watch Lisa, my model, on the day of the photoshoot. By the end of the day, she was confident and happy. You can see her confidence and the joy in her eyes in the photographs. It made me emotional to see that the lingerie I created helped her feel that joy again. I honestly love what I do and how it is helping many women to feel fabulous again.