A BRA boutique offering bespoke garments has been recognised at “the Oscars” of the lingerie industry.

The Bra Consultancy, based in Edwards Walk in Maldon town centre, attended the Stars Underlines Best Shop Awards.

While the ceremony was held online away from the glitz and glamour of London, the shop is still pleased to have won a Special Care Recognition Award, an award for lingerie shops specialising in post-mastectomy care.

The Bra Consultancy was launched in 2015 by Julie Blanche, 63, and moved to their new home in Maldon’s High Street earlier this year.

Julie said the business has gone to great lengths to adapt to the challenges it’s faced during the Covid crisis.

She said: “We opened our shop in February and on March 23 we had to close it.

“In that time, we adapted the business.

“So instead of fittings in the shop, we now have virtual fittings, which worked really well.

“We would do the fittings over Zoom and then the client would purchase the garment and then we would to a second virtual fitting with them to see how it fits. That gave us a really good result.

“We set up an e-commerce website which Kayleigh is adding to daily and we’ve diversified some of the brands. We’ve got Calvin Klein on board now.

“A lot of people are working from home who wanted comfier leisure garments, so we now have bralettes as they became more popular.

“Even though we’re advertised as closed, people can still see on the screen outside the shop what we’re selling and what we can supply.

“It’s a case of having to adapt to what’s going on and not being left behind.”

The award was a case of fourth time lucky for Julie.

She added: “Winning this award has given us a lot of momentum.

“We focused a lot on the award because it’s something we’ve wanted for quite a long time.

“We’ve been finalists for three years since opening the shop.

“We may have missed out on the cabaret and the big meal in London, but we got it.

“Words cannot express how delighted we are to have received such a prestigious industry award, particularly during a year that has been so tough for so many.”

The business specialises in the fitting of breast prosthesis and post-surgery lingerie, but also sells mainstream lingerie, including teen, sports, maternity and nursing bras.

Although Julie and Marketing executive Kayleigh Smith do the fittings remotely, they still miss interacting with customers in the shop.

Julie said: “We definitely miss the physical interactions we have.

“We see our regulars ladies in the town and every time they pass us, they wave.

“Because of the nature of what we do – it’s quite an intimate thing – we want people to feel comfortable. Ours is not a conveyor belt business. We want to give that individual attention to our clients.

“You can get some of it on the Zoom calls, but it’s a nice feeling to have people pop in and have a chat.

“We’re just looking forward to opening up again because we miss it.”

Kayleigh added: “2020 has been an extremely difficult year, both personally and for the business, so to have won such an incredible award truly leaves me speechless.”

Launched in 2007, these awards, sponsored by Anita, are the only independent recognition of excellence in intimate apparel, swimwear and leg wear retailing in the UK.

Michelle Duncan, of Anita UK, said: “Their glowing customer reviews pay tribute to their passionate approach to every woman they fit.”