Post-surgery lingerie proves a success for female entrepreneur
Innovative Irish business, THEYA Healtcare, is growing rapidly in the UK market, with 53% of total sales coming from the UK.
The multi award-winning Irish company is geared for an aggressive expansion, with its revolutionary post-operative lingerie range being rolled out to selected House of Fraser stores across the country this month. The company is also in the middle of a Series A Funding Round in order to accelerate scaling.
Currently its products are also available online and through specialist retailers across the UK. The company has recently begun selling in Europe and North America. Approximately 70% of sales are currently to hospitals and it is an approved supplier to the NHS.
With studies showing that up to 10% of those who have mastectomies and reconstructive surgery develop an infection, breast cancer patients may benefit from this innovative type of bamboo bra, which is clinically proven to be 92-97% resistant to the growth of the two most common bacteria found in post breast surgery wounds.
Ciara Donlon, CEO of THEYA Healthcare, first identified a gap in the market while running her own lingerie retail business in Dublin, when she noticed that breast surgery patients visiting her shop had difficulty finding bras that were comfortable, supportive, and pretty. After securing €50,000 in Competitive Start Funding from Enterprise Ireland, the Irish Government organisation, Ms Donlon closed her lingerie shop and set up THEYA Healthcare in 2015. She used the funding to conduct market research with 80 breast cancer survivors in Ireland and the UK, to find out exactly what these women required from post-surgery bras.
Identified as a High-Potential Start-Up, the company secured an additional €250,000 from Enterprise Ireland, and raised €400,000 in private investment. Launching in February 2015, the company first moved into the UK market in 2016 and is now expanding its UK distribution.
“Enterprise Ireland has been absolutely invaluable in getting the business off the ground initially. Having our products recognised as a class one medical device by the Health Products Regulatory Authority has also been a significant step forward. The UK is a key market for us and we intend to continue our rapid growth trajectory and expansion”, Ciara commented.
Five years since starting the company, Ms Donlon has also been named as Laureate for Europe in the prestigious Cartier Women’s Initiatives Awards. The accompanying $100,000 prize money has been a huge boost for the company, helping it develop sales internationally. Similarly, being named as a finalist in the emerging category in 2017 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year competition is helping to raise the company profile. All of THEYA Healthcare’s products use a unique fabric mix made from OEKO-TEX® bamboo, which is ideal for post-operative products as it is anti-bacterial, thermally regulating, 59% more absorbent than cotton and extremely soft thus helps reduce skin irritation. The design of the THEYA Healthcare range focuses on comfort, support, femininity, functionality and the promotion of healing.
The business, headquartered at NovaUCD, University College Dublin’s Centre for New Ventures and Entrepreneurs, continues to be an Enterprise Ireland High Potential Start-Up (HPSU) client company receiving ongoing assistance from Enterprise Ireland in the markets it operates in, including Ireland, the UK, Europe and North America.
Sheila O’Loughlin, Senior Advisor at Enterprise Ireland, commented: “We are thrilled to have helped THEYA Healthcare launch into both the UK and Ireland. The business continues to make a real difference for cancer survivors and we are excited to continue to support the company as it grows and expands.”