Q&A: Ciara Donlon of Theya Healthcare

Ciara Donlon from Theya Healthcare, formerly Theya Lingerie, talks about re-branding, Brexit, and its latest deal with House of Fraser.     

You used to be Theya Lingerie, why the rebrand to Theya Healthcare?

We specialise in post-operative lingerie for women. It originally started as a breast-cancer-only brand.

We realised that while talking to medical professionals, that our lingerie was for anybody who was going through post-surgery, radiotherapy or chemotherapy as well. We’ve since rebranded to Theya Healthcare... We did that for a number of reasons.

We sell directly into hospitals and also into retailers now. We became a medical device [company] last November, which was important when we looked at the medical market. It was also important for perception.

Lingerie denotes certain things in a lot of people’s minds and it wasn’t necessarily what we wanted our brand to be associated with.

We are looking at very specific group of women who are looking for something very comfortable, but also something that is pretty and feminine too.

This combined with them going through a very traumatic event in their lives, so we decided on something that was more neutral.

We kept Theya, the goddess, so we still have the original sense of empowerment ... It also gives us the opportunity to move into other medical devices in the future, should we wish to do so.

You’re a young company, why re-brand in the middle of a growth period?

When we became a medical device company we had to do a lot of repackaging and look at how we were selling into that market as opposed to selling into a consumer market.

We took the opportunity in repackaging to rebrand as well. We also knew that people referred to us Theya, without the lingerie at the end. Then we sent messages out to all our customers telling them of the change.

For the most part, it’s gone very smoothly and works well with what we are trying to achieve.

You just signed a big contract with House of Fraser in the UK, a great deal overshadowed by Brexit, perhaps?

Being honest about it, the way things have gone in building Theya up over the last few years, I learned to just get up and get on with it.

I’m disappointed about the decision and actually some of our team are based in the UK and it’s not just about the market, it also about members of staff as well.

They are shocked that they are working for a European company and they may no longer be European. We’ll deal with it though.

When you’re in business you can’t cry over spilt milk. We worked very hard to get this contract ... We started talking to them in September 2014. So it’s taken us 18 months to get this point where we can start shipping to them.

They were very interested in the product from the beginning because they saw the gap in the market too.

They wanted to grow some more and build up the business before they looked at taking us on. So we did that, launched in Ireland and grew the business, then last autumn they confirmed the deal.

So we’re selling online only at the moment with them, and then if that goes as planned, we can then look at moving into their stores as well. They have 74 stores across the UK.


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