AN EDINBURGH-based entrepreneur behind luxury post-breast cancer surgery brand LoveRose Lingerie, Caroline Kennedy Alexander, is to appear on BBC One’s Dragons’ Den as she aims to raise investment of £200,000 to further grow her business.
Founder Caroline Kennedy Alexander spotted a gap in the market for luxury lingerie while she was recovering from a double mastectomy and reconstruction. LoveRose is named in memory of Caroline’s sister, Rose, one of two of her sisters to have died from cancer.
Ms Alexander studied fashion and founded and ran an international art gallery in Edinburgh for seven years before teaming up with fellow designer Sarah Bell Jones to create bras, pants, robes and suspenders made from sustainable fabrics and finished with silk.
LoveRose initially raised £15,000 during a crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter to help get the business off the ground and then went on to win at the Scottish EDGE Awards 2018.
Now Caroline and Sarah will face the Dragons on the hit television series on Thursday 24 March as part of her efforts to raise £200,000 to accelerate the brand’s growth. LoveRose plans to invest the money in expanding the product line offering, which will include an Essentials line, allowing more post-breast cancer surgery women to wear LoveRose.
Her fundraising efforts have already attracted support from London-based venture capital investor Ruth McIntosh, who said: “I was delighted to invest in LoveRose because they fill a real gap in the post surgery market, designing lingerie that is certainly functional, but more importantly beautiful and sexy.”
One-in-seven women in the UK will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime, with more than 500,000 women currently living well after treatment.
Ms Alexander said: “LoveRose is more than just bras – we put the emotional and psychological needs of our clients first. This is a market that’s shockingly underserved and so we’re helping to fill a massive and pressing unmet need.
“Our post-surgery bras give our customers confidence and renewed self-esteem. Unlike other post-operation underwear, which tends to be bland, matronly, and synthetic, our lingerie is designed with wire-free engineering and crafted luxuriously.”
The innovative LoveRose collection includes pocketed bras for women who wear prosthesis and hidden support hammocks to negate the need for damaging underwires, while providing full support for the breasts or prosthesis.
Ms Alexander added: “Creating the brand has been such a personal journey for me, having fought off breast cancer twice myself, and having supported three of my sisters during their own battles with the disease.
“Post-surgery, I wanted to return to normal life, but I was totally underwhelmed by the lack of comfortable and attractive lingerie available to support the changes in women’s bodies, such as scarring, swelling and cording, and the need for extra support.
“I understand the emotional pain women go through, alongside the physical pain, including the anxiety and fear about how they will adapt their lives to the changes faced by their bodies.
“The response to LoveRose has been so encouraging, with 25 per cent of our customers already coming back to us to buy more lingerie for themselves and their friends and relatives.
“We’ve not only built a brand but also a community of like-minded women who want to support each other through their breast cancer journey.”
The benefits of wearing luxury underwear have been supported by fashion psychologist Professor Carolyn Mair PhD CPsychol FBPsS, who founded the psychology department at the London College of Fashion.
LoveRose advisers include Christian Maher, a former director of lingerie brand La Perla, and Yvonne Webb, a former national account manager at chocolate maker Cadbury.
LoveRose was developed over the past three years following initial research with the Maggie’s cancer care centres and the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh. Ms Alexander also received initial support from Business Gateway Edinburgh and Scottish Enterprise.