The Right Fit
Coco’s Lingerie fills a niche in the women’s lingerie market.
When Amy Berthiaume went through her training for professional bra fittings, including certification to fit post-mastectomy and post-surgical bras, she had no idea she would one day be helping her mom, Audrey, who was diagnosed with breast cancer last March.
Amy, a 2007 graduate of Punahou School, was attending the University of British Columbia when she decided to work a part-ti me job at a lingerie store for extra money. But she ended up earning much more than just cash from that temporary job. She made off with some important skills needed for her business, Coco’s Lingerie Boutique, which she opened with her mom last November.
“My mom opted to have a double mastectomy with reconstruction, and I came home for a month when she was going through that process,” Amy recalls. “As she was going through that process, we looked around and realized there wasn’t a lot available for women dealing with breast cancer. So, because I had my training and certification, we decided to use that experience and open a store to hopefully help other women who are going through a similar situation.
“It’s also for women who just want to come in and get a bra fitting, because there also wasn’t a lot available just as far as getting a good fitting. You can get fitted at some department stores, but we provide a much more intimate service. So, we have a store for women who are going through cancer and post mastectomies, and women who just want to come and get fitted for a high-quality bra.”
Coco’s (which was Amy’s nickname as a little girl), recently started working with HMSA, and can accept HMSA, PPO and HMO health insurance plans for clients with a prescription for a mastectomy bra or breast forms. The store carries a range of breast forms and post-mastectomy bras, which Amy describes are bras designed with a pocket to hold a breast prosthesis; as well as post-surgical garments.
“After a mastectomy, women are told not to lift their arms, so it can be very challenging to get dressed,” she explains. “So, we brought in front-closure bras and camisoles, which also have the pocket to hold the breast form. Another feature that post-surgical bras and camisoles have is a drainage tube pocket. After surgery, women come out with drainage tubes attached to the incision site, so those can be uncomfortable especially if it gets caught, so our garments have little pockets where you can slip the drainage tube pouch into and that will attach to the side of the bra so it’s out of the way, not visible and just makes it easier to move around.”
The store also carries a nice selection of high-quality bras and fine lingerie made by european brands, such as Marie Jo, Prima Donna and empreinte. They also offer fashion accessories, including body tape, hem tape, washer bags, bra extenders, nipple covers, shapewear, underwear and camisoles— as well as popular brands Commando, Cosabella and NuBra.
“Our stock is always changing,”Amy notes. “We bring in different sleepwear about four times a year, and we gear it toward the climate here by stocking 100-percent cotton or cotton/modal pieces that are very breathable and lightweight. We also carry a lot of basics because we found that’s what women are most interested in—the everyday bras. We can bring in different sizes and styles depending on what they’re looking for.
“And I stress the importance of being in the proper size bra. It’s important for breast health and for support. It can make your clothes fit differently; it will change your silhouette and be more comfortable. If you’re in the right size and right style bra for your body type, wearing a bra, in my opinion, is more comfortable than not.”
As for the location of their store, Amy says her mom grew up in Kailua, and her grandma, uncle and other relatives still live here. Also, having many other small boutiques in the area, they felt it was a perfect fit for their unique little store.
“We took a lot of the emotions of dealing with my mom’s breast cancer and tried to channel it to this,” Amy adds. “It was sort of an outlet for her, and having her here and as a business partner is great.
“I can fit all day long, but I trained her to fit. And when women who have had breast cancer come in, they can talk to her and really relate to her.”
Coco’s Lingerie Boutique | 35 Kainehe St. ,#102
262-6752 | cocoslingeriehawaii.com