Melanie Luxton Brookes took out a £15,000 loan in September 2020 to launch her affordable range of swimwear brand Lady Survivors specifically designed for women with mastectomies.
Just three years prior, the Sheffield-based mum of two was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer. After 18 long months spent in-and-out of hospitals undergoing chemotherapy, radiotherapy and major surgeries, she was finally well enough to take a holiday abroad and looking forward to buying some swimwear for days spent at the beach. As a young woman interested in fashion, and wanting to keep up with the latest trends, Melanie was disappointed at the limited range of swimwear available for breast cancer survivors.
“It quickly became apparent that bikini shopping was not going to be the enjoyable experience that it had been before my cancer treatment. My priorities had changed, I needed something to cover the scars and provide support. This is where the idea for ‘Lady Survivor Wear’ was born. If I couldn’t find it, then I would do it myself – and help other women in my situation,” she said.
While travel restrictions have impacted business growth, the bikini brand has garnered a lot of attention and was recognised by Jacqueline Gold as one of her Women on Wednesdays Winners.
Melanie secured a second loan of £10,000 in February 2021. She plans to use it to expand her swimwear range and continue to bring confidence to women following major reconstructive surgery. A percentage of each sale will go to cancer charity “Breast Cancer Now,” which helps supports women diagnosed with cancer.
“The number of women under the age of 40 being diagnosed with breast cancer is increasing every year. Following treatment, many women have concerns about body image. My vision is to bring confidence back to these women by providing them with swimwear that gives them the self-assurance that whilst wearing it, no one will know what they have been through,” she added.