Keira Kotler remembers what it was like to have a bilateral mastectomy and not be able to find undergarments that fit her new chest after the surgery. Some fabrics were uncomfortable against her skin, while certain styles weren’t as supportive as they needed to be. And, of course, there was the ever-present battle of beauty over comfort.
So in 2013, when Kotler read about a circulating petition to get Victoria’s Secret to start a post-mastectomy bra line, a suggestion which Victoria’s Secret disdainfully ignored, she decided she’d have to do it herself.
“When I read that they didn’t want to take on the challenge, I vowed to solve a problem that they didn’t want to address,” said Kotler. “I already had the idea, and I knew I had to do this.”
And she did exactly what she set out to do. She put her career as an artist on pause and started with a basic bra design, then spent more than a year going back and forth with mastectomy patients, testing prototypes and collecting feedback. Then she started Everviolet.
The name Everviolet was chosen because of the royal implications of the color violet and the connection to the spiritual realm associated with the flower violet. The “ever” part comes from the word “evergreen,” suggesting timelessness and endurance.
“It’s the color of our inner world,” said Kotler. “This brand is for someone whose exterior has changed in a way that they couldn’t have predicted, but her spirit is intact, if not stronger than before. For those of us who have been lucky enough to survive, there’s a lot of power and pride that comes from navigating that journey.”
Kotler’s first Everviolet collection consists of bras, panties, a camisole, and a robe, all of which have special features to make them do double-duty for post-mastectomy women. Depending on the garment, it may have holes for chemo ports, pockets for drainage tubes, pockets to hold prosthetic breasts, and extra wide straps for more comfortable support. The bras all have extra support in the sides of the cups, an area that is often overlooked.
“I’ve been blown away with her attention to detail; she took everything I said into consideration,” said Lisa Joss, a breast cancer survivor who took part in Kotler’s focus group. “It would have felt so nurturing to have these items when I was going through my treatment. These pieces make you feel good, not secondhand.”
The items in the collection, which range from $30 to $120, also have the added benefit of not looking like mastectomy-related garments. The soft fabrics, feminine colors, and sexy styles will have you wondering why you waited to start buying Everviolet products until after you had a mastectomy.
In fact, that’s one of the themes of this collection: inclusivity. Although the items are all designed with breast cancer patients in mind, any woman can wear these pieces.
But Kotler’s main concern has always been making mastectomy patients feel like they can still be the sexy and amazing women they always were. All her models are breast cancer patients and survivors, many of whom have shared their stories on the site’s blog.
“Survivors should feel special, and we created these garments for these women,” said Kotler.
We hope Everviolet pieces will continue to make breast cancer patients and survivors feel sexy, feminine, and strong for years to come. This is such an amazing company!
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?