Since undergoing a mastectomy at age 23, underwear shopping for Kamya Ghose has always ended in tears.
She doesn't want other young women to feel "like no one cared", so is designing mastectomy bras tailored for a younger customer.
Ms Ghose has developed a business plan for her brand #2sexy and Christchurch designer Emma Glasson is developing prototypes for bras that were more attractive to young women after a mastectomy.
Ms Ghose, a trained pilot and university student in Auckland, noticed an unusual lump in her left breast in June. A July mid-semester break in Christchurch with her family ended up being an extended stay after she told her mother about the lump.
"She said, 'Let's get a second ultra-sound', because the first was clear, and this one said the lump was suspicious.
"When my GP told me I couldn't believe it. I thought it was a mistake."
Ms Ghose was told she would need a mastectomy right away to remove the lump. Her left breast was removed, and the lump was discovered to be a ductal carcinoma in situ, a form of pre-cancer that was invasive.
"They said it definitely would have turned into cancer and spread. It would have killed me," she said.
Following the operation she was given funding to buy a prosthesis and bras with pouches the prosthesis can be slipped into.
She said her first trip to an underwear shop to find a bra was tough.
"I didn't get anything. I thought 'Wow, no one cares about me'.
"They are all so big, and like old lady bras."
A photo that she took inside an underwear store especially for mastectomy bras shows an array of black, white and nude bras, with wide straps and large cups.
Ms Ghose said hardly any of the bras fitted her small frame and made her feel "disappointed in my body".
"I think confidence is what makes people attractive, and wearing nice lingerie really gives you that inner-confidence," she said.
Her goal with #2sexy, the name chosen to reference two breasts, is to "give women their sexy back" after undergoing a mastectomy.
"It's about empowering girls to feel good again."
She wrote a post in a Facebook group for breast cancer survivors that she was launching the business and got dozens of positive responses.
Women were asking for mastectomy bras that came in pretty colours, patterns and styles.
"We'll be able to add bows, lace and different colours. They won't be so big, so you can still wear singlets and other tops.
"I wish someone had done it for me, that's basically why I'm doing it."
English fashion designer Stella McCartney designed her own line of double mastectomy bras after the breast cancer death of her mother, aged 56.
But Ms Ghose said #2sexy will be more than just mastectomy bras - it will also provide peer-to-peer support and tips for women recovering from a mastectomy.
"There's so many things I wish people had told me, that I want to tell people about."
She is presenting her business proposal and sample bras to the Breast Cancer Foundation this month, and wants to find women willing to try her bras and participate in a photo shoot.
For more on #2sexy go to: www.2sexynz.com