Post-surgery lingerie maker wins top prize for Europe

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A post-surgery lingerie specialist based in Ireland has been named a laureate for Europe in the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards.

Ciara Donlon, the founder of Theya Healthcare, fought off competition from more than 1,800 applicants to win the prestigious prize, which includes a $100,000 (£77,000) grant.

The Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards, created in 2006, is a joint partnership project initiated by Cartier, the Women’s Forum, McKinsey & Company and INSEAD business school to encourage women entrepreneurs to solve contemporary global challenges.

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Six laureates, one from each continent (Asia & Pacific, Europe, Latin America, Middle East and North Africa, North America, Sub-saharan Africa) are honoured annually for the creativity, financial sustainability and social impact of their start-up businesses.

The idea for Theya Healthcare came about in 2012, when Donlon was running her own successful lingerie shop in Dublin.

Breast cancer survivors regularly came in looking for post surgery bras, but she was unable to find a product that met their needs.

With the input of 80 breast cancer survivors in Ireland and the UK, as well as advice from healthcare professionals, Donlon and her designer Kelly Lakin developed an innovative range of post surgery lingerie for women who have undergone any type of breast, thoracic, pelvic or abdominal surgery.

The range is made from a bamboo mix fabric that has antibacterial and moisture-absorbing properties to promote healing.

In 2016, the brand began trading in the UK as a supplier to House of Fraser. It followed that earlier this year by becoming an approved supplier to the NHS. It is now establishing a presence in France, Belgium, Portugal and Canada.

The 2017 edition of the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards was held at a ceremony at the historical Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall in Singapore.

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