Gateway: Business

The Bra Lady wants women to embrace the brassiere

Janice Cleaves is on a mission to educate women on one of their most important pieces of clothing: the bra.

Cleaves, with her business, The Bra Lady, does the opposite of big chain stores. She sets aside 30 to 40 minutes for clients. Coming in for a fitting means one-on-one service with Cleaves, who has been fitting bras for more than 30 years.

She sees many women who come in with incorrect sizes, which she believes is due to a lack of quality, sizing and service in mainstream stores.

“The majority of bras sold in this country are sold in offshoots of corporate woman’s clothing stores,” Cleaves said. “Nobody is wearing the right size bra anymore.”

The opening of The Bra Lady is a return to the city for Cleaves, who has spent the last four years in California. She chooses not to disclose her location, because she books private one-on-one fittings. To book a 30 minute appointment, call 253-851-2266.

Women leave The Bra Lady with two bras, cleaning material and, most importantly, some education on how to wash and care for their garment.

Cleaves also fits women with a way to improve posture and relieve neck stress.

“A bra, when it fits, does all of those things,” she said.

Another service is fitting women after a mastectomy, taking the time to fit whatever the woman needs.

Right now, there’s a Design and Decorate competition on at The Bra Lady. Cleaves is challenging women to reuse their old bra — especially those that are ill-fitting — and create an art project. For an example, she has a sparkly bra that depicts a golf course.

The lucky winner will earn a $250 gift certificate to the store. There’s $190 for second place and $125 for third place.

Cleaves believes the bra has gotten a bad rap lately as women struggle to embrace their bodies in the 21st century. Having a comfortable supportive bra can be a positive change, she said.

“Embrace it and learn about it,” she said, “and be friends with your bra.”