By Amanda Hatfield Anderson
MELBOURNE -- Melbourne business owner Ingrid Theys offers support for women, both emotionally and physically.
"Did you know that 80 percent of women don't wear a properly fitting bra?" asked Mrs. Theys, owner of La Jolie Bra Fitting Salon. "Or that the average bra size is a 36DD?"
The former lingerie manager for a department store chain opened La Jolie Bra Fitting Salon in March 2012, after observing a strong need for a special place for women, who are larger-busted, as well as women, who have undergone breast surgery.
"There's a lot to it, and I knew there was a big need for this type of business in Brevard," Mrs. Theys said. "Most insurance companies send patients to a medical store, but it's just not comfortable for women."
Providing a personal and catered experience, La Jolie Bra Fitting Salon focuses on the customer, regardless of age and background.
While La Jolie Bra Fitting Salon does not accept insurance, Mrs. Theys said that most insurance companies will work with clients, when informed ahead of time, adding that the customer needs to keep the receipt, as well as the prescription for their records.
"La Jolie is not your average lingerie store," Mrs. Theys said. "We carry band sizes 28 through 46 and cup sizes A through K. We fit you, the customer, and everyone deserves to feel beautiful."
"When women come in for a standard fitting, I measure them, but I never measure the cup sizes," Mrs. Theys said. "I have been able to eyeball it and know what they need."
Each woman has a different breast shape, and Mrs. Theys said she looks at the shape of the breast to determine what kind of bra will best fit her customers.
"Just because you come in and see a bra you really like doesn't mean that it's going to fit you properly," Mrs. Theys said. "It's all dependent on a woman's breast shape."
After determining the proper bra for her customers, Mrs. Theys said she picks out the bras for the customer to try on, while educating them on how the bra should feel and look.
"Most women have no clue what to look for," Mrs. Theys added. "When I put them in the correct size bra, they see and feel the difference."
When working with women who have undergone or are about to have breast surgery, Mrs. Theys takes a different approach.
"It's all about the type of breast surgery -- single or double mastectomy," Mrs. Theys said. "I provide customers with what they need before they go to the hospital for their procedure, and I'm here to help them after, whether they choose to go with reconstruction or not."
For women who come to La Jolie Bra Fitting Salon, prior to their operation, Mrs. Theys lets them know what is available to them, so they know what to expect, following their surgery.
"A lot of women in this situation come in and they have no idea what is going to happen," she said. "It's a very emotional time."
Mrs. Theys also provides a special camisole for patients, as well as a shower shirt for women to wear following surgery.
"Mastectomy fittings are much different from a regular fitting because they are dependent on how much of the breast will be removed during surgery, and if one or both breasts will be removed," Mrs. Theys explained.
If only one breast is to be removed, Mrs. Theys works with her customers to find the correct breast form, which is determined by weight, in order to make the appearance even.
"If a women receives a double mastectomy, it is a much more simple process, because you just start from scratch," Mrs. Theys said. "Regardless of the situation, it's all about comfort and finding what is right for my customers."
In order to make the experience a more pleasant one, Mrs. Theys designed La Jolie Bra Fitting Salon to look like a boutique.
"When you hear you have breast cancer, your mind is totally off, and you don't want to think about anything anymore," Mrs. Theys said. "You just have to digest what you hear."
Mrs. Theys said that when a customer is determined to be a good candidate for reconstruction by their doctor, she encourages women to take their time because the process can be a very emotional one. Sometimes reconstruction doesn't happen for a period of time, due to radiation, chemotherapy or a range of other reasons.
"I always encourage women to take their time when they are going through something like this because it is their body and they have to think about what is right for them," she said. "I encourage them not to listen to others when they tell them to do this or that -- that is not how it works. It is about the individual woman, and she knows, from her heart, what is right for her."
Because of the sensitivity of her business, Mrs. Theys said that she sometimes finds herself acting as a counselor to her customers.
"It's dependent on the person," Mrs. Theys added. "Sometimes they pour their heart out, while you're giving as much advice and encouragement as possible. Sometimes, you have women who collapse and are scared."
Mrs. Theys said she also has customers, who come into La Jolie Bra Fitting Salon, knowing exactly what they want and want to take control.
"Regardless of the situation a woman is in, I want them to know that my door is open for anyone, and they are welcome to come to talk," Mrs. Theys said. "I am always here for my customers."
La Jolie Bra Fitting Salon is located at 401 N. Wickham Road, Suite C, Melbourne.
For more information, call (321) 255-2933 or visit www.LaJolieBras.com.