Designing Women

Naturally, FH has a bit of a soft spot for companies that go after a niche market. People who go crazy just to make things specifically designed for a very narrow task or object or moment. Sometimes this manifests as genuine garbage: the Clapper, for instance or Tater Mitts. But when the idea is good and the motives are sound you get well executed, targeted design that really helps people out. And sometimes things exit the realm of mere function and aesthetics and become something altogether greater. That's when truly brilliant design becomes so important to society that it changes the character of our collective life.

Pretty lofty aspirations for a design. And when it comes to niche markets, sometimes even when a good design achieves such greatness, the people it is designed for don't know it exists. Or where to find it. And that's where Shop Well with You comes in. This is an organization based in New York that helps to connect a specific group of people--women who have experienced physical consequences as a result of cancer treatment--with clothing and accessories that tailor to their specific needs. The nonprofit believes in helping women cancer survivors to have a positive body image and sense of self. They identify as a body image resource center. They offer lists of places to find clothing tailored to women who are living after a mastectomy or chemotherapy, and also a forum for other women to share experiences and stories about their own battles with cancer and any tips for dealing with the aftermath they find useful. It is a collaboration between the organization, the companies designing items specific to cancer survivors, and the women themselves: a threefold project to benefit a sadly growing niche market of women.

More often than not, I think that significant design that aims to solve problems like these requires the aid of a not for profit organization. Is this just the way it has to be? I feel like design and profit are stuck in this constant tango between huge profitability for design that aims low and low profitability for things we really need. My mom was visiting last weekend and two of her friends have been diagnosed with cancer in the last month. So when Carrie expressed the same experience of her mom's friends increasingly being diagnosed, we felt strongly that we wanted to tell you guys about this successful organization that deals with an incredibly important issue. They are doing admirable work.

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