When she was pregnant with her first child in 2009, Nadine Woods, a communications specialist in Toronto, felt confident and sexy, thanks to a closet full of fashion-forward maternity clothes created in response to the boon of celebrity pregnancies since the end of the 1990s. As soon as her baby was born and she started breastfeeding, however, the fashion show was good and over. She could find nothing stylish to clothe her once-again changing body.
While the fashion industry had done a good job outfitting and accenting baby bumps, very little attention had been given to breasts, which also morph in pregnancy. There were nursing bras available to Woods when she needed them, but most were, in her view, unattractive and awkward, held together by annoying hardware that was hard to manoeuvre while holding an infant.
"The undergarments required for postpartum recovery are few and far between and nursing bras are worse," says Woods, who's 32. "And the options available were either frumpy or didn't do the job properly."
Not able to find what she was looking for drove Woods to create a line of sexy, functioning lingerie for nursing women herself. Necessity, in this case, was truly the mother of invention.
"Nursing women need options and having a bra that is familiar in style and support can go a long way toward satisfying their needs," says Woods, who worked with a New York lingerie designer as well as lactation consultants in Toronto over a three-year period before bringing her idea to market.
Mayana Genevière, the business she launched at the end of October, operating it out of her Liberty Village office, is nursing wear you could imagine a Victoria's Secret model wearing. It encompasses everything from padded black-lace bras to panties that match. Those panties, however, have built-in tummy control that aids in the repair and healing of a new mother's body. And that padded bra? It's actually a scientific wonder disguised as sexy underwear. "I call them restorative garments," Woods says of her line.
In the process of creating Mayana Genevière, Woods developed Aluxtra, the world's first clasp-free nursing technology. "Aluxtra is unique to our brand and to the lingerie industry," she says.
The science behind the patented invention allows for bra cups to fold over without clasps during feedings. The technology also provides a precise fit with premium support by using a combination of flexible moulds and multi-way stretch textiles for heightened versatility.
Beyond comfort and ease of use, a hardware-free nursing bra has another big benefit. "It doesn't look like a nursing bra," Woods says. "It looks sexy. Just because a woman has become a mother doesn't mean she has fallen out of fashion. Now she can wear a bra that she likes and is familiar with, be it a demi or a traditional soft cup, without having to compromise style for function."
And there are other unique features: Each bra, for instance, comes with a button that a woman can use to remind her which breast she nursed from during multiple feedings. And the cups are fully lined in organic cotton and made of foam manufactured in Canada according to federal environmental laws, meaning there are fewer chemicals involved than with other bras. "This is especially important when having these garments near a newborn," Woods says. Having her product made in Toronto and Montreal also affords Woods the opportunity to stay involved in the manufacturing process, to ensure quality control.
"Each garment is subject to rigorous control checks and if adjustments are needed the turnaround is quick because I am there overseeing the process. It's very hands-on."
The line is currently being sold in select specialty lingerie and maternity stores across Toronto. A national and international expansion of the brand's availability is currently in the planning stages for 2015.
According to Woods, other women beyond those who are nursing have taken notice. "Some stores we sell to are reporting that women who have not had children are coming in after seeing Mayana Genevière in their window displays to inquire about the brand," says Woods.
"Our wireless soft cup is so unique that it's proving to be a great seller to both mothers and non-mothers alike."