‘My co-workers would also call me the Bra Whisperer and the Bra Guru. I had a customer walk in and say, “My friend told me to come in here and ask for the Bra Lady.’”
“I’m known as the Bra Lady. Through word of mouth, people come to see me from many miles away because I’m the Bra Lady. I’ve been with Lane Bryant for 16 years. When I started, I was trained for 40 hours with a bra trainer. I grasped a lot of what she taught me, so eventually I took her position.
“I was holding training classes in different locations and teaching the girls about how bras fit and how to overcome obstacles for unusual situations; for example, somebody who is pregnant or nursing and their breast size changes; somebody who had a mastectomy and has either one or both breasts removed; somebody who removed a partial piece of their breast; somebody who had loose skin because of weight loss surgery … I once fit a lady who had surgery and removed her nipples.
“Now I have been in Levittown for four years, and I train all of my employees so that they’re experts. The biggest challenge is fitting women correctly. As plus-size women, we have some lumps and bumps. Some people measure incorrectly because they don’t want to get up in the lumps and bumps. I would tell them that everyone wants a good, form-fitting bra.
Because I endured a lot of illness with family members, I think I am more understanding about the needs of my customers with cancer.
“My co-workers would also call me the Bra Whisperer and the Bra Guru. I had a customer walk in and say, ‘My friend told me to come in here and ask for the Bra Lady.’ All the employees started pointing to me. She had come all the way from Brooklyn! They send their friends to me. I have not had a person I couldn’t help. It’s fun and nice to know that people recognize my ability and appreciate my talents. I am very sensitive to people’s issues, and I can read body language very well. I feel like I know what to say. I also have customers coming in desperately looking for anything and everything because they are so limited in where they can shop, as there are very few stores for plus-size women. It’s very frustrating and difficult for them.
“In helping such a variety of women, I have learned so much from their obstacles. I had to fine-tune each situation and adapt it to their problems. Everyone needs a different kind of bra fit. Some of the most meaningful experiences have been with women who were sick, because I was able to relate to their special stories.
“My mother had cancer and passed away when I was 25. As a teenager, I was caring for a sickly person. Later on, I was with someone for 20 years. We were very different; I’m white, he was Jamaican. He was so strong and hardworking. He had such good morals. It was so interesting to spend my life with someone from a totally different country and world. He had Hodgkin lymphoma three times. When he was first diagnosed, we had a small child. My daughter had been born prematurely at three pounds. I was originally in the medical field but went to sales because it was close to home, and having a sick husband and small baby, I needed to be able to go home if I could. The schedule was also more flexible, and I am grateful for that.
“However, everything together was very stressful. It’s probably why my weight has been up and down my whole life. Five years ago, he passed away. Unfortunately, he had a hard battle, but he fought throughout it. He was the love of my life. I was a widow at 37; my daughter lost her father at 10. He made me very strong. Because I endured a lot of illness with family members, I think I am more understanding about the needs of my customers with cancer. Some have no eyebrows and no eyelashes, they’re very scared, and they’re losing weight. I have even helped people with ports in their chests. They need special bras that can help with that. I have shared my own struggles so that I can help them.
“Through being the Bra Lady, I have learned that I am very adaptable. It’s a very good experience because I feel like I can help people. I realize how valuable life is. My daughter just had her sweet 16 and she is one of my customers. The joke around the store is that I’m the mom of the bras. As soon as customers walk in, I start assessing their size. I’m usually right. I’m just glad that I am there for people in a meaningful way while they also help me learn more about myself.”