New lingerie business to help female prisoners find work in fashion

Barbara Burton with her first signature bra.

A new lingerie brand has launched to support women as they transition from prison to find meaningful employment in the fashion, retail and creative industries.

London-based BehindBras sells bespoke, limited edition bras, with 100% of the profits invested into training women in prison and connecting them with people and businesses on the outside.

The company was founded by Barbara Burton, 55, who was convicted for fraud in 2012 and spent 12 months behind bars at three different prisons because of overcrowding.

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Knowing that finding a job after prison would be tough, Burton armed herself with a business plan before going to jail, and developed the idea whilst serving time.

With special permission from prison, she attended London School of Fashion bra-making courses and once released she designed her first signature bra with the help of design and manufacturing company In.Dwear and fashion business consultant David Jones.

One of the many motivations Barbara had for setting up BehindBras was to address a lack of opportunity for women who’ve been in prison.

She witnessed women leaving jail – only to come back weeks later – often because they can’t provide for their families when they leave.

Fewer than one in 10 women have a job to go to when they are released and almost half (45%) are reconvicted within a year, according to figures from the Prison Reform Trust.

“When you go to prison there is the normal run of the mill roles that keep you away from the TV – such as cleaning, kitchen work, volunteering in the library, and maybe the odd business course,” said Burton.

“I wanted to make a go of it when I left prison and I had a determination not to end up back inside but I discovered that there was no real tangible mentoring or help for the outside world”.

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