A Support System
When Barbara Gilbert opened her store Barbara’s New Beginnings in May, 2000, she had one goal to make a difference in the lives of women who have undergone mastectomies.
During a hospital stay, Gilbert, realized there was a need for women to be able to easily get assistance with post-mastectomy undergarments.
“I was on the surgical floor, and women who were having or had a mastectomy kept coming and going,” she said. And speaking with these women, she learned they had extremely limited options when it came to post-mastectomy bras.
“I remember thinking, when I get out of here, I’m going to do something to help these women,” said Gilbert.
She did her homework and opened a 200-square-foot store and ran it for two years before moving to her current location. And her little store is now 4,200 square feet.
“There are very few stores like this, I have the only one in Indiana,” said Gilbert, referring to the prosthetic and fitting services Barbara’s New Beginnings offers.
If it weren’t for her, cancer patients would likely have to order a breast prosthesis or post-mastectomy bra from a catalog at a medical supply store. As for being fitted, the process could very well result in an experience with a medical supply salesperson that extends far outside a woman’s comfort zone.
Based on the services it provides, it is not surprising that Barbara’s New Beginnings is celebrating its 20th Anniversary.
In addition to assisting breast cancer survivors, Gilbert also provides a much needed service, making sure women wear the proper size bra. According to The New York Times, 80% of women wear the incorrect sized bra. Having a bra that is not properly fitted may lead to neck, back and shoulder pain. Wearing the right sized bra also makes a tremendous difference in how clothes fit and can make a woman’s appearance more sleek and slimmer.
“If properly fitted, a bra can make a woman appear 10-20 pounds lighter,” said Gilbert.
Nine years ago, Gilbert expanded to Indianapolis and has expanded her store’s offerings to include swimwear, loungewear, accessories and a very large selection of bras, panties and maternity and sports bras.
In addition to being of service, Gilbert cherishes the many customer relationships that have grown into true friendships.
“I have ladies who call and say, ‘Put on the coffee, I’m on my way with cookies,’ or they just bring lunch,” said Gilbert. “I have so many really good friends.”
But at its core, Barbara’s New Beginnings is all about being of service to the needs of women. Recently, Gilbert and her staff visited Wellspring Interfaith, an organization that supports those in need and provided bra fittings and undergarments to 99 homeless women.
“I’m not kidding there was dancing, laughing … they were so happy,” said Gilbert. “It was probably one of the best things I’ve done.” 4705 Illinois Road, 260.432.9939, barbarasnewbeginnings.com