Up Close and Personal with Sonia Qaiser

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Sunday chats with the brains behind Pink Ribbon Foundation’s latest initiative, Give A Pink Bra, which aims to increase awareness of the methods for early detection of breast cancer in women:

Tell us more about this fantastic initiative. How did the idea come about?

We have designed a unique bra that will increase awareness and also help women self-test for early signs of lumps. The idea was born during one of our brainstorming sessions. The creative team delved into local insights, and extensively interacted with women from the lower socio-economic group. The idea evolved over time and took form through feedback and guidance from the project mentors.

How did you go about executing it?

The first task was to study the design of the bras that women from the lower socio-economic group wear. Then we got into creating prototypes. We tested all the prototypes on a select group and closed in on one design that was most apt. But that was only half the work done. We needed to create awareness to ensure the bra had a mass reach in the shortest possible time.

Who thought of the name?

It struck us during a brainstorm session as a casual suggestion, but it really just made sense because it’s so memorable and fits in well with the brand.

How did you design a patent?

The product belongs to Pink Ribbon. We want to ensure that people do not tamper with the design since we have tested it for its efficacy. We want the bra to reach as many people as possible, so we are very open to others joining the #giveapinkbra movement, provided they share the same vision as ours.

How long have you worked on this project?

This project has been in the pipeline for four months now. It involves ideation, prototyping, gathering donations and creating a video to promote the product.

How do you aim to reach your target audience? How will you educate them about breast cancer?

Our target audiences are women from the lower socio-economic group. But cultural taboos make it tough for us to reach out to these women, so we have adopted another approach. We want employers of female domestic help and factory workers to gift the Pink Bra to these women. The bra will do the rest of the job and will teach them to self-examine and empower these women to save their own lives.

With such a topic being a taboo in our culture, how do you plan to break that stereotype?

Cultural taboos hinder breast cancer awareness, especially amongst the lower socio-economic group. They do not like to speak about their breasts in public and certainly not in the presence of men. This mindset makes it impossible for us to reach out to them through leaflets and brochures. We needed to speak to them in privacy. That is exactly why we thought of the Pink Bra. It not only teaches the women to self-examine but also explains each step of the self-test in detail via illustrations inside the cups of the bra. Thereby giving an opportunity for these women to learn about self-examination in utmost privacy.

What kind of feedback has this project gotten so far?

The project has received an astounding response. The social media campaign has received over 50k views within the first day of the launch. Celebrities, activists and actors have promised to join the cause and spread awareness through their social media channels. The project just launched but the response has already been overwhelming. We had high hopes from the start but the fact that so many people not only want to purchase and give the bra to the women who work in their homes and businesses, but also to educate themselves has been a very positive surprise. After all, breast cancer doesn’t care how rich or poor you are.

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Any funny or disastrous incidents that have happened during this campaign?

Before we found the right manufacturing partners, we worked with a lot of small printers and textile houses. They just couldn’t get it right. Now, it’s funny to look back on the horrible prototypes they made for us, but at the time it gave us quite a heart attack. It took a lot of trying to get the right product made, in a way that is comfortable and familiar from the lower socio-economic group.

When does it go live?

The campaign is live as we speak. It was launched on 17th April. What’s next is also very exciting, with retail partnerships, distribution through clinics and hospitals, ecommerce, and further support from celebrities coming public very soon.

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