Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Face to Face with Panache

Yesterday was a fab day, Mr Butterfly and I got to tour the Panache headquarters. Panache was not only willing to meet with us but really enthusiastic, which was such a great surprise. So many of the big brands are disinterested in us because we're independent and Canadian, but Panache were really interested to find out what's going on with busty Canadian women.

We were met by Panache Product Manager, Claire Heathcote who is obviously as passionate and obsessed with bra health as we are. She gave us a tour of the headquarters where we met the fabulous designers (all women!) of every Panache bra. We then met the sample designers who constantly create mockups (by hand) of the new designs; man are they talented and fast! Panache uses real women as opposed to just mannequins or CGI models to test new styles. They have a test group of 100 women (all different sizes and shapes) to ensure that they put every bra through their paces. Every single person we met was so keen to talk about their products and customer needs.

One of the most exciting things was getting a sneak peak of the 2012 Fall/Winter Collection - all I can say is you won't be disappointed!

We have been asking you to tell us what questions you have for Panache and we were able to ask them all so check out what Panache had to say:

Will Panache start doing 26 bands?
"The next collection we are designing is Spring 2013 and this will be the first trial of 26 bands in select styles in Cleo and maybe Superbra. We know that there is a huge need for 26 bands and we want to get the support absolutely right."
Tango is still Panache's best-selling bra
Can you make narrower set straps for petite women?
"We have several new strap designs, widths and materials coming out in the Autumn 2012 and Spring 2013. These have been coupled with shorter wires so that the bras are shallower under the armpit for petite women. Tango, Ariza and Andora will all have the shorter wires in GG+ sizes."

Why don't the underwear across the brands (Cleo, Superbra and Masquerade) all fit the same?
"The underwear for all brands is being standardized so that you know if you're a large in a Superbra thong, you're also that size in a Cleo thong. This standardization will be complete in the next year."

I really love that Panache is listening to their customers and I personally felt that my questions about the specific needs of Canadians were really taken to heart. My next stop is speaking to the North American Panache team about getting more competitions and deals for Canadian women, I'll keep you posted! I am really excited about expanding our Panache collection and working with such a thoughtful and passionate company. xx

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Year in Big Bras

On November 26th of last year we officially opened the ‘online doors’ of our lingerie boutique. I have dreamed about having my own business since I was about 9 so launching Butterfly Collection was a dream come true. I set myself one goal to achieve in the first year of business – Make just one busty woman feel better about her body by getting her into the right bra. I am thrilled to say that my mission has come true time and time again this year and that is my greatest success!

I wanted to share with you some of the amazing things that peoplehave said about their experience with Butterfly Collection in the past year:

“I want you to know that although you are so far away, I have felt that you care so much about other women and their needs.  I have tried on the two bras that I have gotten and words can't express how I feel right now.  I have NEVER found a bra that has given me the support I needed like these

That was the best bra-fitting experience I have EVER had! EVER! I really felt like I was being fitted FOR a bra, rather than fit INTO one -- a very refreshing and educational experience for me!” (Skype fitting client) 

“Claire is warm, funny, and puts you right at ease. She’s extremely passionate and knowledgeable about helping full-busted ladies get great-fitting bras and feel good about themselves and we had several laughs about what it’s like to have bigger boobs over the course of our fitting.” 

These comments mean so much to me because it says that we’re on the right track to being a caring company with great bras, knowledge and a sense of humour.  I am so honoured that I get to help women feel great in their bras, especially women who felt they didn’t have options because of having bigger breasts.
Lucy in Yellow - one of the bras you'll see in 2012
There is a lot we plan to achieve in this coming year, 28 and maybe even 26 backs in D+ bras, on location Butterfly fitters in other Canadian cities and more choice through our D-K basics and fashion ranges. We will continue to listen to our customers and to give amazing customer service. 
It has taken a team of people to help Butterfly Collection take flight and I am grateful to each and every one of them. I am so fortunate to have Mr Butterfly who lives and breathes bras with me, photographs our gorgeous models with sensitivity and always makes me feel amazing about what we achieve. Thank you to everyone who has read our blog, signed up for our newsletter and to every customer who has allowed us to help them find their perfect bras this year. The biggest reward is knowing that we made some busty ladies out there very happy! I’m off to drink a glass of champagne and celebrate being one! xx

Friday, November 18, 2011

12 Must-Read Boobilicious Blogs

Over the past year something wonderful has begun to grow on the Internet. Busty women all over the world have started to share their experiences about life with big boobs and shopping for bras. I think this is such a great thing for us big busted girls. Not only can you pick up great tips and reviews, these blogs also create a community where you can talk with other women experiencing all the ups and downs of being a D+ cup size. You don't have to feel like you're the only one struggling with gaping tops, boob spillage and riding bands. Here are my Top 12 Big Bra Bloggers: 
Invest In Your Chest blogger Cheryl puts bras through their paces and specializes in 28 backs and sports bra reviews. She models her bras fantastically and was kind enough to interview me back in October so I have extra love for her!
Fuller Figure Fuller Bust is run by the inimitable Georgina who was a runner up in the 2011 Curvy Kate Star in a Bra competition. Her no-nonsense attitude to curves, bras and generally being awesome makes for a compelling read. The Gorgeous Georgina also models her own bras and seriously rocks them!!

Sophia Jenner write fabulously indepth product reviews. She specializes in small backs, large cups, is a tireless Breast Cancer Research supporter and an absolutely gorgeous model of her lingerie loves!
Thin and Curvy is a US blog specializing in the trials and triumphs of being, well, thin and curvy! Brittney reviews bras, clothes and styles for slender women with great boobs!
Cups and Measures is a Canadian blog reviewing bras of all sizes but specializing in bigger sizes. It's so great having another Canadian bra blogger (at this point I have to give a special shout-out to Swimwear and Lingerie blogger Maggie, a fellow Cannuck, who blogs tirelessly about the Lingerie Industry).
Braless in Brasil is simply a joy to read. Blogger June is an American living in Brasil and searching for the perfect bra as she continues to improve her fitness. Her product reviews and fearless honesty are compelling!
The Full Figured Chest is written by the wonderful Holly Jackson (who also writes for Butterfly Collection once a month!) Holly is a full busted lady who reviews bras, brands, designers and boutiques. She is funny, warm and passionate - a great read!
StackDD is a US blog written by the gorgeous Sarah who is on the search for fabulous D+ bras. She has amazing product reviews and style tips. Sarah did a phenomenal review of our Skype fittings this week too!

Bra-none is a big busted dream because the lovely Sia reviews where you can find the best big bras online and what to buy once you're there! 
This is a pretty new blog to me but from the few reviews I've read I love the style! Focused on bra reviews this is a brutally honest but fair commentary on big bras. Definitely worth checking out.

Curveissa is a new blog that has already got my attention big time! Tina writes about finding bras and clothes that are great for a professional woman. This is a particularly important subject because finding tailored clothing for big boobs is tough.

Undercover Lingerista is the home of wonderful bra reviews from the genuinely lovely Kitty. She is a champion of 28 backs and reviewer of busty sleepwear and fashion.

I feel so fortunate to be part of this Big Bust Brigade, a fabulous bunch of ladies working to make life, fashion and bras better for women everywhere! xx

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A Guide for Men Buying Lingerie for Busty Ladies

This blog post should have a dotted line around it so that it can be cut out and stuck on the back of the loo door, left casually by the remote control or subtly tacked to the fridge with a big arrow saying “DO THIS!” This is our holiday buying guide for the gentlemen who are lucky enough to be in love with a beautiful busty lady and would like to buy her lingerie, but don’t know where to start.

Buying lingerie is your chance to show the woman you love how much you adore her, your relationship and her body. A busty woman needs to feel beautiful and supported in all her lingerie (we can't just throw on a frilly piece of lacy and feel sexy, it needs to have structure otherwise we get escaped boob!) There are some tricks to getting this gift right so that you get lots of festive kisses instead of cold turkey! You can visit our Men's Club for more information too.

Things to Avoid 
  • Buy for her not for you. If you buy a bra with barely there cups and a teeny tiny thong thinking that's what you'd like to see her in but your lady feels sexiest in full lace cups and a bikini then neither of you will get what you want! You need to buy what she feels good in and trust us you'll feel good in return!
  • If you have never bought her lingerie before don’t start out with anything too risqué (unless that is what she has asked for). Classically beautiful/sexy lingerie is a great place to start. Think lace or silky fabrics, romantic and sexy colours like pinks, reds and blacks.
  • Try to avoid buying the wrong size. This can’t always be helped but at least be in the right ballpark (don't buy from anywhere that doesn't have a returns policy, you need the freedom to exchange or return). Buying something much too big or small will send the wrong messages.
How to get it right
  • We don’t usually advocate rummaging through her lingerie drawer but this is the best place to find out her size (you can also sneak a look in the laundry basket or at the bras drying in the bathroom!) You’re looking for a little label inside the bra and it will have a number between 26 and 60 followed by a letter, for example, 36G. Also take time to check her underwear size.
  • Make a note of the styles of bras and knickers she wears. Does she have a lot of lace bras, silky bras, molded cups (these are the ones that keep their shape by themselves). What colours does she have? In her knicker drawer does she have thongs, or briefs, do they look a bit like shorts? Make a note.
  • When in doubt buy a gift certificate for lingerie. Make a point of writing something meaningful on the card and offer to choose the lingerie with her to make it a personal experience.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
  • If you don’t feel comfortable rifling through her lingerie, ask a sister, Mom or female friend if they can help you. Girls share lots so chances are they’ll know something about her bras!
  • We are used to speaking to men about buying lingerie; we get calls from wonderful guys every week who are looking for lingerie gifts. You can call or email our support staff if you need help choosing a style or working out her size 1-888-225-0474
So this holiday season you can save your feet, avoid the line-ups and get her a gift that will get you lots of kisses and months of enjoyment all at the click of a button! xx

Friday, November 11, 2011

Guest Post: Mind the Gap! Coverage that Works for Busts.

Founder Jill Homiak wearing her bust covering design
I like finding bust friendly clothing designers for you because once you've got on the right bra you need a gorgeous bust friendly wardrobe to go with it. Today we have a post from Presenza founder, Jill Homiak about what drove her to create her own wrap top that actually kept her boobs covered without compromising her style.

"My first job was an entry-level sales position at a downtown firm in DC. I wanted to look my best, especially since I was just staring out. However, finding professional clothing that fitted me was a real challenge and one that I’d pretty much given up on. I’d tried button-downs and they always had major “poppage” across the bust’s apex. I tried wrap dresses and tops, but they typically fell so low, I’d have to wear a camisole with it. Once I put the camisole underneath, I felt the look wasn’t as polished or sophisticated as I wanted it.

All the tops I had were blousy so they would fit over my chest, but I never felt as professional as I would wearing a collared button-down.

About 5 months into my job, I received an email from my staff manager at the end of the day. She had written that my outfit was ‘inappropriate’. I was in grey dress pants, a burgundy silky deep v-neck and a cream colored tank, all from Banana Republic. What was inappropriate about that? I happened to be in flip-flops walking from the subway to my desk when she had seen me, so I wasn’t sure if she meant my shoes or not. I responded and asked her to specify. She said my top was “too revealing”. I was angry and embarrassed to say the least. This woman knew nothing of my struggles to find appropriate clothing to cover my bust, she was a tall stick figure! The tank I was wearing had a built in bra which I had to pull at throughout the day to stop it falling down and revealing cleavage. I guess she saw me in between modesty pull ups! Even wearing a camisole under the v-neck had failed me!

I knew there had to be solution to my problem – not just a quick-fix or “cover up”. Why was it that the wrap style and v-neck, two of the most flattering fits for the full-chest woman, never actually fit? Once I realized I wasn’t the only one with the problem, I set out to launch Presenza – a line of patent-pending wrap tops made with the chest in mind. I solved the coverage problem around the bust using the patent-pending feature which allows the shirt’s top half to expand by unbuttoning the area under the arm for more "cleavage coverage." Now I can pass on the confidence to other women of knowing you’ll never “show off” unless you choose to!"

~ Jill Homiak is the Founder and Designer at Presenza 

What do you think of Jill's designs? Do you usually have to wear a camisole under your shirts as a security in case of poppage or gaping? xx

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Would you sell your ethics for a $1.50 bra?

While I was browsing my lingerie news last week I came across an article in a British newspaper that made me mad on many levels! The headline proudly announced that a bra to fit any budget was now available in the UK and used the painful play on words 'Bra-gain'. The bra in question is being sold in a UK Dollar Store equivalent for 99p, that's about $1.50

I continued reading expecting the punchline to kick-in; surely it was going to be made of chocolate or rice paper. But no, this is an actual bra asking to be taken seriously for under $2. My rush of emotions and opinions came so quickly I had to pour myself a cup of tea (it was too early for gin) re-read the article and calm down.

If it looks too good to be true it probably is!
My biggest outrage is that nowhere in the article did it question the morality of a 99 pence bra. While the journalist was picking over the cheap bra press release he never thought to ask himself "does this add up, does the world really need a 99p bra, what are the consequences of such a cheap bra?" OK, so it was written by a bloke who may have not have a lot of lingerie knowledge, but basic economics tell you something doesn't add up.

The article then went on to give the model's reaction to the bra. She unwittingly hit the nail on the head. When asked if she would wear this bra in the bedroom she replied that she would because "I doubt my boyfriend would care about how much it cost!" Well that makes you, your boyfriend and the journalist at least who don't care about the ethical cost of this bra.

The difference between value and cost
Cheap bras won't last as long as quality ones and the construction may not be as beneficial to your health. I'm used to explaining to women why spending your money on a good quality bra is in your emotional and physical best interests. Budgets are tight and when a pair of jeans costs $40 it makes you balk at paying $70 and up for a bra. But bras is a case of you get what you pay for. When I spoke to the CBC's Shiral Tobin I explained to her that the popular "3 bras for $30" offers at places like La Senza and Victoria's Secret are not designed for women with big boobs. It's like comparing beach hammocks to suspension bridges - would you drive over a string bridge just to save a few bucks!?

You have to ask yourself the ethical question
The engineering in a bra is really very complex because you are working with multiple different materials that have to be constructed perfectly, the margin for error is tiny. This work and mix of materials has to be shipped and marketed so going on the idea that at least 20% goes on labour, who is making this bra for 30 cents? The most likely scenario is that a woman in Bangladesh is making this bra and being paid about $30 per month with no medical, no vacation and no health and safety at her workplace. The amazing bra comes at a very human cost.

I know that budgets are tight for lots of us but if you stop and think about it does saving money on a bra really make you feel good when you know you're compromising your ethics? There are so many amazing lingerie companies out there doing the right thing. One that has blown me away is Chicago based Naughty for Nice whose business constantly gives back to charities and manufactures ethically. There are good ones out there if you shop with your ethics as well as your budget! xx

Monday, November 7, 2011

Holly Jackson: The Difference a Busty Heroine Makes

Today our fabulous guest blogger Holly, from The Full Figure Chest, tells us about the first time she met a Busty Heroine who made her realize she wasn't alone. At Butterfly Collection we know that you can only feel great in your bras when you accept and love your figure and that's why we share stories like this with you in our blog and newsletter.

Chicken Salad vs Cleavage
"My first job was in a coffee shop as a trainee barista. I mostly made chicken salad sandwiches for socialite ladies and watched the other baristas make cups of coffee. The only virtue of the job was that I liked my boss a lot. She was a cute redhead in her mid-20's named Mary, and she was the first women I'd known who had breasts as big as mine. One day while looking for something to open the chicken salad jar with, she taught me a major life lesson.

"You've got the tools right here!", she exclaimed as she shoved the giant jar of chicken salad down into her cleavage and twisted the lid off. At that moment, she became my first female hero.

Believing in Ourselves
I grew up in a house where curves weren't encouraged. I don't think my mother meant it to be that way, but like many sets of parents, mine tended to equate having breasts with being fat. My mother is curvy herself, but spends most of her time draping herself in voluminous clothes to disguise that fact. I spent most of my teenage years being forced into minimizer bras, which just made me angry and uncomfortable. When I got older and moved far away, my mother began to offer to buy me entire new fancy wardrobes if I could just weigh in under 130 pounds on her scale. It never happened.

You have to love you no matter what anyone else says
So often when we're younger (or even when we're older), full-busted women are taught that their breasts are a handicap they have to bear in life. We worry about showing a tiny bit of cleavage at the office, or whether a tank top looks sexy or obscene on us. We see these as our problems, as things that make us less than other women, when really we just haven't seen examples of full-busted women who are at home in their own bodies. 
Our gorgeous model Vyna does a lot to promote self esteem in native communities
A Sense of Humour Helps
I've heard lots of different versions of my teenage years from other full-busted and plus size women, so I know my experience isn't unique. That's part of why I'm so passionate about great full-busted lingerie: a great bra makes you see yourself in a whole new light. Hopefully, that shift in perception can carry over to other areas of your life as well. Shifting your perception doesn't mean you have to love being full-busted all the time. I'm still embarrassed that I can't zip up my favorite high-waisted skirt because I can't see my waist in a profile view, or that I frequently knock things over because my breasts aren't where I expect them to be. But it doesn't mean I hate my breasts, or my body.

Because hey, I can open a jar better than any other woman I know."

Do you remember the first woman you met who made you realize that being a busty woman was pretty great!? xx

Holly Jackson is a professional lingerie copywriter and columnist.  She blogs and works at The Full Figured Chest

Friday, November 4, 2011

Saving Our Own Lives

Gorgeous Flowers from Mr Butterfly after a tough few days
I've ummed and ahhhed this week as to whether I should share this story with you or not. I then realized I have made a commitment to you to be honest and a commitment to contribute to your health and happiness.

Back in April I realized that I was behind on getting my PAP test. The usual stuff of a busy life (not least getting Butterfly Collection up and running) meant that I was late getting tested. I've been going for PAP tests (or smear tests as they're known in the UK) for over a decade and even though it's not the most fun you can have in an afternoon I've never dreaded it. I simply forgot that this isn't a test you don't want to miss.

My results came back showing signs of pre-cancerous cells, a very common diagnosis, one which a few of my girlfriends had experienced and explained that the treatment was very straightforward. I was chastising myself for not going earlier but concentrated my mind on getting the biopsy done. The biopsy results came back and showed that there were pre-cancerous and unfortunately cancerous cells too. This came to light on Monday and my stomach did a very big flip.

I've just spent the last month writing about breast cancer and here I was hearing my health discussed in relation to cervical cancer, that's the wrong end - I don't know anything about that end! I was able to speak to the gynecologist and find out that there were very few cancerous cells and the doctor is confident he got them all out. This made me feel a million times better, this isn't cervical cancer, this is a bloody big warning! They are giving me follow up treatment to make sure I'm spotless which is great. By this end of the week I feel very relieved and very fortunate. Thank goodness I finally made time to have the PAP test done especially knowing that leaving it much longer could have been very bad news for me.

I am sharing this story with you because being an independent, happy and healthy woman starts on the inside; in this case, literally! I am asking each of you to mark down when your next test should be, and if you're behind on getting one done, book it today, it could save your life. xx

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

It's not popular but I Like 'Real Women'

You’ve probably seen the term ‘Real Women’ cropping up in the media usually in relation to images of curvy women. There has been a lot of backlash to the implication that only curvy women are real which is of course a ridiculous notion. The wonderful thing about the human body is that it comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, each one worth celebrating. Thin women are just as real and valuable as curvy or plus sized women. But I'm not sure that the term 'Real Women' is about one kind of woman being more real than another.

Photo from Dove's campaign for Real Beauty
What I read into 'Real Women'
We don't see enough variety of women in the media. The number of images we see of extremely thin women is disproportionate to the variety of female shapes that exist in reality. The waif has dominated the advertising and acting world for almost two decades. The ubiquitous ‘skinny’ look has been hailed as the ‘most desirable’ figure for so long that ‘Real Women’ has come to mean ‘Figures outside of tall and thin’. We know that in reality very tall and naturally very thin figures are quite rare. The amount of exposure to waif-like images is massively disproportionate to the shape of the general public. 

PhotoShop is Not Reality
The most important reason we need the word Real is because the vast majority of images we see of women have been airbrushed and altered to remove any trace of imperfection. The amount of airbrushing that goes on to make already slender women look impossibly thin means we see very ‘Unreal Woman’ being postered on countless billboards and magazine covers for very real women to look at and feel inadequate over. From this perspective I don’t think the term ‘Real Women’ is entirely unreasonable and has a place in our vocabulary if we want to encourage body diversity in the media. 

A responsibility to body diversity
We are starting to see a shift in the body-types used in mainstream media with publications like Vogue Italia using 'plus size models' on their covers. However, the world doesn't break down into thin and plus size - the majority of women fall somewhere in between. I don't identify as a plus size woman but I'm certainly not waif-like, where is the model who looks like me? Is my body type not beautiful?

Personally I made a conscious effort to ensure that the models we use for Butterfly Collection are reflective of our customers, women with boobs sized D-K with a naturally curvy body. I don't want our customers to see images of B cup women wearing our bras and thinking that's what they should or could look like. I want women to be proud of their busty figures and not be ashamed of having great boobs. 

Considering that eating disorders in children (both male and female) is at an all time high I think we need contrasting images and vocabulary to stir up the media status-quo and establish body diversity - far beyond thin and plus size. 'Real Women' may not be the perfect phrase but at least it's a start. 

How do you feel about the term Real Women? Does it make you feel empowered? Enraged? Just another marketing term? I'd love to know your opinion xx