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Looking to beat the curve with donations

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Crystal Cunard, owner and president of the BraBar & Panterie, is hoping individuals donate to her annual fundraiser for less fortunate women.

PHOTO BY SIMON FULLER Enlarge Image

Crystal Cunard, owner and president of the BraBar & Panterie, is hoping individuals donate to her annual fundraiser for less fortunate women. Photo Store

Crystal Cunard wants to keep community members informed of a current fundraiser for less fortunate women.

Cunard, 30, is the owner and president of the BraBar & Panterie, which has two Winnipeg locations. The original store is based at 554 Des Meurons St. in St. Boniface and there is a newer location at 1765 Kenaston Blvd. at Linden Ridge Shopping Centre.

Throughout December, the St. Boniface resident is holding St. Knickers Month, where she is inviting women to donate gently-worn bras or new underwear or individuals of both sexes to make a donation so that organizers also can buy pairs of panties. Among the organizations set to benefit from this year’s third annual fundraiser are Siloam Mission and Centre Flavie-Laurent.

Cunard, who is also a fitness model when she finds the time, said it is important for her to do her part to help others at this time of year and hopes to build on the momentum of the last two fundraisers. In 2011, the business received 364 bra donations and donated 404 pairs of panties, and last year’s campaign garnered 703 bras and contributed 160 pairs of panties.

"It’s that time of year when we’re thinking about giving. We’ll accept any bras that are lightly-used and size doesn’t matter," said the River East Collegiate alumnus, who grew up in Courtenay on Vancouver Island, lived in North Kildonan for seven years and has lived in St. Boniface for the past six years. "This fundraiser helps us gain knowledge about organizations doing good work in the community."

Cunard’s association with the BraBar & Panterie is a long one. She has worked at the store on-and-off since she was 14 and eventually bought the business this past July from her aunt, Sharon Phillips, when she retired. And despite taking time out to become a designated chartered accountant, the entrepreneur knew she always wanted to come full circle.

"The idea has always been there to retain the family ownership. It inspires me every day that we get to help women. We’re more of a service for women, as we help them find the right bra size, which can help decrease back and neck pain, as the right-fitting bra provides proper support," Cunard said, noting that around 80% of women are wearing the wrong sized bra.

"Part of the problem is that department stores and retail chains only tend to carry up to DD and DDD size, but we carry up to a K cup and we also start with junior bras," she said. "A common mistake is when a woman tries on a bra, she feels like she needs a bigger cup size, but this loosens the bra as an anchor, as the support comes from the back. Regardless of age or shape, every woman needs a proper-fitting bra."

The business, which is a certified affiliate of CancerCare Manitoba, also specializes in services for cancer patients and women that have had a mastectomy: "If you haven’t had reconstructive surgery, we carry prosthetics." Cunard said.   

Donations can be dropped off during business hours at both locations. For hours, and more information, visit www.thebrabar.com

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