The three sisters behind this swimwear brand wants every body to be a swimsuit body – including those who have undergone traumatic surgeries as a result of cancer treatment.
"These swimsuits are for every woman to help them feel comfortable and confident with who they are, how they are," said Jennifer Anderson, a co-founder of Lime Ricki, a swimwear brand based in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Lime Ricki was founded in 2007 by sisters Colette Callister, 55, Jennifer Anderson, 53, and Nicole Bruderer, 50.
"When we finally lived in the same state together again, as adults, we decided we wanted to do something that would be meaningful," said Callister. "It took a little time to convince my sisters to do it, but they came around."
In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Lime Ricki released a "mastectomy-friendly" swimwear line called, "Flourish and Bloom." For every suit purchased from the special line, the brand donates a portion of the proceeds to support the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
The collection features accommodating styles that include removable bra cups for prosthetics and varying coverage of the chest area for those who would like to cover scars from surgery or skin defects from radiation.
Inclusivity is at the heart of Lime Ricki and a matter that is especially personal to the family. Bruderer and Anderson are both cancer survivors themselves.
"[Cancer] is something that's affected me through my whole life and now that I have three daughters of my own… It's something that we care so deeply about in funding research," said Bruderer.
Bruderer was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 21 and recently commemorated the 29th anniversary of her diagnosis this year.
"At the time, we didn't really think we had a family history… So it felt like a really big shock," said Bruderer. "And it's definitely a diagnosis that shakes you up and changes your perspective."
Bruderer said she fought cancer three times in her 20s at the ages of 21, 26 and 29.
"I'm really grateful that I'm now 20 years out from my breast cancer and healthy and strong, but I've had a lot of surgeries," she added.
Nearly two decades later, Anderson was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012. She said the diagnosis came as a shock, but was grateful to have her sister who had set a strong example of what a survivor looks like and gave her hope.
"It's not a death sentence to be diagnosed with cancer. It's a journey that we get through in different ways," said Anderson, who celebrated her 10th year of remission this month. "[Ovarian cancer] increases the risk of breast cancer significantly and so I did opt for a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy."
As a result, Anderson said the design of the swimsuits came from a place of deep empathy.
"The suits do relate quite a bit to what my body has gone through and issues that I face," said Anderson. "And then I have a 16 year old daughter… This journey may continue with her as well."
The sisters said that cancer has largely affected their family history. They attributed it to the inherited BRCA1 gene that is known to heighten the risk of developing breast and several other cancers.
"[Cancer] has affected our family for generations and so it's really near and dear and close to our heart, the journey of cancer, mastectomies, finding clothes that fit with when your body changes unexpectedly," said Callister. "And so we feel privileged that we have an opportunity to help this community of very brave, vulnerable and courageous women."
In order to highlight the strength of survivor's bodies, Lime Ricki chose four models who have been diagnosed with cancer and are at different places in their own recovery journey's, including one model who had her mastectomy as recently as three or four weeks prior to the photoshoot.
"From the get-go, from the photoshoot that we had with our four breast cancer survivor models, they loved the suits and felt so beautiful and confident in them," said Callister.
Since its release in early October, the line has received positive reviews from women across the country.
"They're just they've expressed gratitude that they're so happy that there is an option or that they can share this with a friend or a family member who was experiencing this," said Bruderer.
The sisters, who now have daughters themselves, stressed the importance that all women should feel comfortable in their own skin. They said that they're happy that their swimsuits can help women do just that.
"Lime Ricki has always been a celebration of women and our bodies and empowering women to go and create memories," said Bruderer. "We sometimes feel pressure from ourselves, or from society, that we need to look a certain way. This line is all about celebrating the diversity of women and our bodies and our shapes and our sizes and our colors."