Wearing Organic Bras is Part of My Self-Care – A customer spotlight story

Organic Cotton Womens Moon Top
Kayla couldn’t resist the Moon Phases Ballet Top

After 8 years of university, Kayla finally completed her M.D. in family medicine and started working at a major hospital in 2012.  She was excited to meet and help patients.  Unfortunately, the US health-care system is focused more on profit than on care, and within a few years, Kayla was burnt out and discouraged.  Often with just 15 minutes scheduled per patient, she was not making the deep connections and serving the community in the way she had hoped to.  She finally realized that to provide the type of care she wanted to give, she would need to start her own non-profit clinic.  She spent another 2 years getting formally trained in Ayurvedic medicine.  Armed with both science-based and holistic health training, she manifested Moon Cycle Medicine, Inc. from a dream into reality in 2017.

A fun selfie sporting the English Bay Polo

Kayla and I met through a women’s networking group, Women Entrepreneurs of Portland (WE PDX) that I cofounded with a realtor friend. She was so excited to find a reliable source for organic cotton intimates!  She and her mom have become regular customers, and I have joined the board of her non-profit.  Unlike Ann from our last customer spotlight story, Kayla has no known allergies or skin rashes.  This led me to ask her at a meeting recently why she wore organic cotton intimates.  She responded, “Wearing organic cotton bras and panties is part of my self-care.  I get peace of mind knowing there are no chemicals on my intimate areas.”

She also told me she occasionally prescribes organic intimates to her patients. “I had a patient who had a severe rash in her private area.  I prescribed her organic cotton underwear along with more conventional creams and antibiotics.  When she came back for her follow-up, she had gotten all the conventional items, but still hadn’t purchased the underwear.  I had to explain, that the organic underwear was the most important prescription I’d given her and sent her off to go find some.”

Kayla’s secret? She’s rocking the Alba Padded Underwire Bra beneath those eco-fashion tops.

Kayla appreciates that FaeriesDance.com gives her a specific place to recommend patients to.  “It’s easier for my patients to follow my guidance if I know where to refer them.”

With so much synergy between our respective businesses, Kayla and I will be working on a few joint projects over the spring and summer.  She’s going to be offering a free workshop on breast cancer awareness at our warehouse and we’re also collaborating on a series of bra videos that have been on my to do list for several years.

As I mentioned in my last customer spotlight, my personal motivation for starting Faerie’s Dance was wholly environmental.  Twelve years into the business, I have to agree with Kayla that wearing organic clothing, and intimates in particular, is part of my self-care.  I just hadn’t thought of it in those terms.  Wearing lacy soy panties, or a sensuous pine-tree bra feels luxurious to me.  It’s become part of my everyday armor.

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Eco-Fashion Saved My Life – A Customer Spotlight Story

In 2005 two full tanks of propane oil spilled out into Mary’s basement due to a faulty valve.  The entire house became a toxic oil spill.  After two months of attempting to clean up the spill while still living in the house, Mary and her husband gave up and abandoned their home.  Unfortunately, they had stayed longer than was prudent, and Mary’s slight chemical sensitivities turned acute.

Mary became allergic to almost every finishing agent, dye, pesticide and petroleum-based product in clothing.  She would get paralyzing weakness and severe asthma-like reactions to most garments along with skin rashes and shortness of breath.  She started a desperate search to find clothing that didn’t make her sick.  She found one company that made 100% organic cotton men’s lounge pants with drawstring waistbands and plain organic cotton t-shirts that she didn’t react to and bought dozens of them.  She found she could tolerate organically grown wool that had been processed without chemicals.  With a deep love of animals, she was cautious to buy only hand sheared wool from pasture-raised sheep in Ireland.  And for the next 8 years, she wore only men’s lounge pants, t-shirts and Irish wool sweaters.

The Allergen-Free Side-Tie Bra offers relief from skin rashes and other sensitivities.

In 2013 she lamented to a friend that what she missed the most was wearing a bra.  As an older woman, she was uncomfortable going out without one, especially in summer.  However, she couldn’t tolerate them at all and hadn’t been able to wear one in years.  Her husband stepped in and did some internet searches for her, and he stumbled upon FaeriesDance.com.  He bought her the Allergen-Free Side-Tie Bra.

When it arrived, Mary tried it on, and for the first time in many years, she was not only able to tolerate a bra, but also found it downright comfortable.  While it wasn’t the most supportive bra she’d ever worn, she was absolutely thrilled to be able to wear a bra when going out in public and felt feminine for the first time in ages.

 

 

At 100% Organic Cotton with no latex or spandex, Mary was so thrilled with the Button Tunic she had us special order one in every color.

Excited and empowered, Mary called Faerie’s Dance to find out if we could help her with other clothing (and to buy a bunch more bras).  After listening carefully to her list of allergies, we recommend a number of beautiful, feminine fashions.  She purchased the first few tops manufactured by Indigenous Designs with both trepidation and hope.  Every single piece worked!  She called again and together we started working on getting her some skirts, and then cardigans, dresses, jackets and finally pants.  She literally had no wardrobe at all, so she made a monthly budget and picked up a few new pieces every month.

Most of the fashions were from Indigenous, but with recommendations she also got intimates from Cottonique and Love Nature, a hemp jacket from Jonano, the Hillary Fleece Dress from Curator, socks from Peau-Ethique and more.

Since 2013, Mary has not only become a consistent customer, but a friend as well, telling stories of her frog pond, her pets and her life in general.  She starts every phone call with what she’s wearing.  She picked up the Alba Padded Underwire Bra, and while it does have a touch of spandex in it, she is able to wear it for a few hours at a time for special occasions.  She called excited one day to say that when she put on the Alba bra with her Sunny Day Dress, her husband actually did a double take, “checking her out” for the first time in years.

 

The cheerful Sunny Day Dress

 

Today Mary says eco-fashion has saved her life.  She feels beautiful, comfortable and feminine in her clothes (though she’s too shy to let us post her picture).  She’s more comfortable in public and able to dress appropriately for any season.  She doesn’t have a single pair of baggy men’s lounge pants left in her closet!  When asked after all this time what her very favorite purchase was, she goes back to that original Cottonique bra.  She has half a dozen now and wears them every day. 

When I started Faerie’s Dance, my focus was on the environmental side of eco-fashion.  I quickly learned about the social justice benefits as well.  But I was wholly unaware of the many allergy sufferers who were literally getting sick from their clothing.  It’s such an honor to help people like Mary find clean, sustainable, fairly traded fashion.

What’s your eco-fashion success story?  

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Yes, Organic Bra Prices are Affected by the Global Economy

Yvonne Wireless Padded Bra

Organic Cotton bras are the most popular selling item on FaeriesDance.com, and for good reason.  We carry the largest selection of organic cotton, natural fiber and eco-friendly bras in the USA!  We do it by sourcing most of our bras from Europe.  Amazing companies like Swegmark of Sweden, Peau-Ethique and Do You Green from France and our newest addition Comazo|Earth (maker of the Yvonne Bra shown left) in Germany are making natural, organic, fair trade bras far superior to anything we can get in the USA.  And even our best-selling USA-made brand, Blue Canoe, gets their GOTS-certified organic cotton fabric from overseas.  Like our in-house brand, Green Tree Organic, Blue Canoe designs, patterns, cuts and sews in the USA from imported fabric.

What that means, is that your modest organic cotton bra price is affected by global economics.  Unfortunately, while the stock market may be skyrocketing, the dollar is not.  The dollar just reached a 3-year low against the Euro.

The Price of the Euro Rose Steadily Throughout 2017.
Blue Canoe’s Cami Bra

As a rule, we try to price European goods at a 2-year running average so the price of the bras don’t change for our customers every single time we restock.  But the cost has just kept going up and up.  Since customs fees are paid on the converted price of goods, higher Euro prices also mean higher customs fees.

The bottom line is that many of our bra prices will be going up soon.  As a courtesy, we’re going to keep prices steady until Valentine’s Day since most styles and sizes will be restocked before then.  That means right now, you can get Blue Canoe bras at 15-20% off their website prices!  For example, the Blue Canoe Cami Bra (shown right) currently retails for $47.  It will be available for the bargain price of just $40 on FaeriesDance.com until February 14, 2018.  Come February 15th, the Cami Bra will be $42 and most other bras will be going up $1-4 per bra.  So definitely stock up now if you can.

Thank you for your continued support.  Wishing you a Safe, Health and very Happy New Year!

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GIVEAWAY: Win a Swegmark Organic Cotton Bra of Your Choice – ENDED

 

Organic cotton padded underwire bra
Alicia Padded Underwire Bra

It’s true!  Win your favorite Fair Trade, Organic Cotton Bra from Swegmark of Sweden. Since we brought this collection in last year, these bras have become our customers favorites.  There are now 10 styles to choose from including 8 of Swegmark’s signature full-coverage, wire free, organic bras plus an organic cotton sports bra and now a lightly padded, underwire bra.

 

All of these organic bras have wide, adjustable comfort straps and 3-position hook-and-eye back closures for the perfect fit.  They are well-constructed with wide underbust bands for great support and coverage.  Sizes range from 34B – 46DDD.  Not all bras come in all sizes, but the winner will have the option of choosing any of our in-stock options.  We have Swegmark bras in white, nude, pink, blue, grey and black.

If you don’t get your perfect size on the first go, you can even send it back and we’ll do an exchange for you.  Once you’ve tried this brand of comfort, stylish, sustainable bras, we don’t think you’ll ever choose anything else.   So go ahead and enter below. The winner will be announced Monday, November 27.

 

organic cotton fair trade no wire bra
Wellness Dots Bra
Fair Trade Organic Cotton Bra
Faithful Full Coverage Bra

 

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How are Bras Made? The Ins and Outs of Organic Bra Manufacturing.

Why don’t USA manufacturers make organic cotton bras?  We get this question a lot.  There are actually a number of great companies, like Blue Canoe, that make soft bras, bralettes, and yoga bras in the USA.  However, you won’t find padded, molded cup or underwire bras made in the USA.  When we started making our own line of organic panties in Oregon, we thought we might try our hand at making some bras as well.  What we found is that bra making takes expensive specialty equipment.  Most sewing manufacturers can’t afford to buy this equipment unless they are using it regularly.  It’s certainly possible that somewhere in the USA there is a small manufacturing company that can make these types of “constructed” bras, but if there is, we weren’t able to find them.  So let’s break down types of bras and how they are sewn.

bamboo bra, removable bra cups, soft bra, organic bra
This pull-on style bra has removable padded cups.

“Soft Bras” or Bralettes

This is the category of bras made without molding, internal padding or underwire. The bralette is very popular these days, and it’s the easiest bra to sew.  There are bralettes that pull-on over the head, those that have the addition of a hook-and-eye back closure, and even a few that are sewn with internal pockets for use with removable padded cups.  The removable cups offer the option of a padded bralette such as the Adjustable Soft Bra, shown left, without the expensive equipment needed for internal padding.  The hook-and-eye back closure takes more sewing than a pull-on style and tends to make the bras a little more expensive, but they don’t require any specialty equipment.  The entire hook-and-eye piece is often manufactured separately and bra companies just need to buy the pieces and sew them in using a standard sewing machine.  The Avignon Triangle Bra shown below is an example of the hook-and-eye closure bralette.

Bralettes can be sewn in almost any sewing shop or factory and can even be made at home.  A standard sewing machine pulls most of the weight for these bras, though a cover-stitch machine can also be beneficial.

organic bra, bamboo bralette
This bralette has a hook-and-eye back closure.
molded cup bras, organic bras
This machine creates molded cup bras.

Molded Cup Bras

All of the bralettes described above will have some sort of seaming, pleating or ruching in the cups to provide shape.  Molded cup bras provide shaping without any seams.  Since this type of bra looks particularly good under t-shirts or tight knit tops, they are often referred to as t-shirt bras.  The molded cups require an intricate piece of equipment that stretches the fabric to the exact shape of the cup.  Since you need a separate “mold” for each cup size, the equipment cost can get expensive.  I had the opportunity to snap a few photos of a molding machine at Swegmark’s offices in Sweden along with the resulting molds.  As you can see in the image right, this machine creates only two sizes, so additional machines or larger machines are required based on how many bra sizes you want to create.  Swegmark has been making molded bras out of polyester fabric for years, but when I visited this summer they were working on their first fair trade, organic cotton molded bra.  We look forward to having those available for sale in early 2018.

how to make a bra
Bra cup molds created by the molding machine.

 

organic cotton bra, bralette, organic bra, molded cups
A bra with cups created by a molding machine.

A molding machine can also be used to create molded padding for bras that have internal padding rather than removable padded cups.

The Alba No Wire Bra (shown left) from Love Nature is an example of a no-wire bra with molded, seamless cups.  This one has molded cups without padding.  We had sent a number of request to Love Nature to add an a A-cup bra to their size range before they went out of business.  At the time they told us they didn’t have any molds for an A-cup and this is what they meant.  It wasn’t just re-working the sizing to fit an A-cup, they would have had to buy more physical equipment.  In their case, they didn’t think the sales would make up for the large upfront investment.

 

 

 

Underwire Bras

The addition of underwires to bras allows them to shape and support the breasts much better than a no wire bra.  Additionally, it is possible to use the wire to support cotton internal padding rather than the more common polyester/nylon padding. There were rumors stared by a book in the 90s that led some people to believe that underwire bras caused breast cancer.  However, that myth has been well debunked.  You can read about it here or here or here.

We still sell a lot of underwire bras, particularly padded, underwire bras and it turns out that adding in the wire requires yet another piece of expensive machinery. While I’ve never seen one in person, I have been able to find them online.  An underwire bra machine such as the one shown below runs about $8,000-$10,000.

This machine bends wires to the bra shape and cup size.

Conclusion

Finding the perfect bra for you always takes a little effort.  While we would ideally love to offer a wider variety of bras that are made in the USA, the downturn in American textile manufacturing has left us with few, if in fact any, companies that can make seamless cup or underwire bras. In fact, the equipment is so costly that many of the manufacturers we work with are actually bra designers and still outsource most of the construction and sewing to larger facilities that have all of the needed equipment.  Despite that, we are still thrilled with the variety and quality of organic and natural fabric bras that we are able offer, and hope you can appreciate all of the work that goes into making them.  For our little company, though, we will not likely get into bra manufacturing any time soon.

 

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