Presenter: Wayne Bucklar
Guest: Debra Taylor
Guest Bio: Melbourne born but now calling Queensland home, Debra has been a qualified lingerie fitter for more than 25 years now.
Debra’s ownership, the Boutique has introduced more post surgery items including compression garments as well as an even wider range of quality, colourful mastectomy swimwear. Debra Taylor is now recognized as one of the most skilled post breast surgery prostheses fitters in Australia. Over the past 10 plus years under
Segment overview: In today’s Health Supplier Segment, know more about the largest post mastectomy lingerie store in Australia, the Spirit of Life Boutique. Owned and managed by couple Debra and Mark Taylor, they offer a wide array of products such as post surgery items including compression garments as well as an even wider range of quality, colourful mastectomy swimwear. They have clients flying in from all over the country as well as New Zealand, Japan and Pacific countries just to visit her store and even their web shop and sends products all over the world.
Health Professional Radio
Wayne Bucklar: You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. My name is Wayne Bucklar and my guest today is Debra Taylor. Debra is a Brisbane based business person who runs a business called “Spirit of Life Boutique” now that’s name that doesn’t give much away so let’s let Debra explains. Good morning Debra and welcome to Health Professional Radio.
Debra Taylor: Oh good morning Wayne.
W: Tell us what Spirit of Life Boutique is.
D: Spirit of Life Boutique specializes in looking after ladies who have had breast cancer and we also look after post-operative patients as well.
W: Now when you say look after?
D: We supply the breast prostheses, the mastectomy bras, mastectomy swimsuit and compression garments for different procedures.
W: Now that’s a specialist market. Tell us how you got into this.
D: Well I’ve been a corsetiere for over 25 years and I’ve got approached by one of the companies that actually make the breast prostheses Amoena. And they opened a shop up in Park Road Milton that 13 years ago or 15 years now, ago. And they asked me to manage it, now at the time, I was the Queensland Manager for Simone Perelle and I chose to take the job on simply because my cousin at the age of 32 was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer.
W: Wow 32, that’s really young isn’t?
D: Yeah, no not really. The youngest one I’ve actually had was 15 years old and she’d already lost her mother and sister. So they chose to do a prophylactic mastectomy on her and she can have reconstruction when she’s 19. So that would be the youngest I actually looked after and she was still at high school at the time.
W: Now I have to say as a man, breast cancer is not something that I’m an expert in nor are breasts for that matter. Tell me what are the issues that you come across?
D: Well it’s just depends on each individual case, actually. I mean as you know I’m not a doctor or a nurse, I just see these women six weeks usually after they’ve had surgery and quite often they have to have chemotherapy follow through and radiation. So sometimes I’ll see them before they go through all that and then I’ll fit them into something comfortable that will be suitable for the period of time that she’s actually having the chemo. And then going on to radiation and then I’ll supply them with something that is soft and comfy that’s not going to hurt the area they’re having radiation on.
W: Now Debra, I have a picture in my mind of your shop looking a little bit like a surgery supply center. Is that what it’s like?
D: No, no. It’s just look like little boutique fashion shop. I’ve got beautiful colors. What makes us unique, is that when we serve, when I first started working in this business – the only bra’s as you can get with beige, ivory, off white and black, really boring and women used to go “Oh my God. This is gonna be the rest of my life.” Because they look like old maternity bras – so not so. What I have now to offer a beautiful vibrant purple, red, fashion colors that are in season, lacy, satin, all sorts. So it just looks like a fashion bra but what makes it unique is the fact that they can actually put their breast prostheses in and just looks like a normal bra.
W: And Debra do you supply the prostheses as well?
D: Yes. We’re the largest, one of the largest specialists in Australia. We actually supply people in New Zealand, I’ve got customers in Singapore, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, London, all over the world actually. Until when they come over here on holidays, I’ll fit them and I keep their records and if they want something, I just post it out to them.
W: Wow. It does sound like one of those breast cancer issues that kind of doesn’t get a lot of exposure. I have never thought of the fashion aspect of bras for post vasectomy women. So what are the products and services that you would like clinicians to know about in hospitals, what would you say to them?
D: Well the whole idea was the Spirit of Life is when women come in here, they’ve been thru a lot of trauma. I’d like to take at least an hour per customer – we don’t rush them, we’ve got nice big fitting rooms, I could talk about the drugs they’re on what are their going through whether it’s chemotherapy or radiation, I actually go to lecture a couple times a year so I might with the latest drugs that are on the market. And sometimes Wayne the drugs do actually affect women like it might put weight on and they’re feeling really down about it. You know I take this all into account as I am sitting and listening to the customer. I like to sit and so they can go they can wear the clothes they’re used to wearing, like we now have strapless bras and we’re now biggest companies to make it 14 years and we finally got them 8 months ago. And this is a real issue because when you’re younger you want to be able to wear those strappy dresses and if you’ve got a got big bulky bra on with straps you can’t wear your strappy dresses. So I like the women to come in, assist them on their outfit, they walk out and they go “Oh my God, I feel like myself again.” And that’s what Spirit of Life is all about. They go back and they feel like their old self again and that’s huge, huge thing for recovery for them.
W: A wonderful benefit for recovery. You’re listening to Health Professional Radio. My name is Wayne Bucklar. My guest today is Debra Taylor who is the owner of Spirit of Life Boutique. And Spirit of Life Boutique is located in Brisbane in Australia, but services customers all around the world and are specialist providers to women who have had mastectomies. Now Debra we’ve talked a lot about bras, it occurs to me that bikinis and swimsuits are also bras, do you deal with those?
D: We also have mastectomy bikinis, tankini’s and swimsuits. Now each individual patient has different lots of surgery so sometimes they’ll need a high …. in a garment for swimsuit which we have but we also have lovely bikinis. They just look like a bikini that you buy in a swimsuit shop, they look fantastic. We have special swim pants for them. And also Wayne there are women that had lumpectomy and we also have partials for those and I’ll tell you why. Our women wear cupsizes, like a B-cup, a C-cup, a D-cup, it’s quite often I’ll have a lumpectomy and I have a bit remove. So one side they might be a D-cup but because they have that lumpectomy they might only a B to a C. So I’ve actually got a partial breast prostheses that actually fits in the bra so it fills that bra up so it’s just looks normal.
W: I think that’s a wonderful thing and I sincerely hope that lots of women are aware that you’re existing. If they don’t, let’s hope our clinicians can refer people to you. I guess people can hold of you on your website www.spiritoflifeboutique.com Is there a phone number they can call you on to Debra?
D: Yes 07 3511 4222. And also Wayne, can I just tell you not everybody is aware out there but there is a Medicare rebate on the breast prosthesis and also on partials. So every two years, ladies can actually claim 400 if they only have one breast done or $800 if they’re bilateral and which covers the cost of most of the breast prostheses.
W: I think that’s important news, too. Debra if there’s a misconception about your business that drives you nuts and keeps you awake at night, what would it be?
D: Well I’ve actually had people coming in shop and think that were a spiritual shop as in China (chuckles) – spiritual things because of the name but I actually, the name was derived from many years ago when the breast prostheses was first made. I mean they’re still made in Raubling in Germany, all the breast prosthesis. But on the boxes they had the Amoena logo with the spirit of life on it that they’ve dropped their word ‘spirit of life’ and that was actually on the box. So I kept that and it’s actually called Debra Taylor Spirit of Life Boutique.
W: Well I think it’s been a splendid mission you’re been on now for years and years. I think the work you do is very admirable and I hope that we’ve helped a little to get the word out today Debra.
D: Oh, thank you very much Wayne. Very much appreciated.
W: You’ve been listening to Wayne Bucklar in conversation with Debra Taylor, director of the Spirit of Life Boutique in Brisbane – specialist providers of lingerie for women who undergone mastectomies. A transcript of this interview and a sound archive are available on our website at www.healthprofessionalradio.com.au. If you’ve missed the interview, please go to our archive have a listen it’s well and truly worth listening to. My name is Wayne Bucklar, this is Health Professional Radio.