This ostomate was inspired to start a business that empowered women—the answer was underwear.

Five years ago, Jasmine Stacey was rushed to the emergency room in what she recalls, “the day my life forever changed.” She was 20-years-old and working as a Registered Nurse at King's College London. Since 2001, a diagnosis of Crohn’s disease had her feeling nausea, fatigue and running to the bathroom numerous times a day—symptoms that many people with Inflammatory Bowel Disease can relate to.

In Jasmine’s case, a permanent ileostomy was needed to save her life. Accepting a permanent ostomy for the rest of her life felt unbearable in the first few years after surgery. She says, "It took me a long time to accept my stoma. The fact it saved me and gave me back my life was a massive step in the right direction, but the change to my physical appearance and how it emotionally affects me is a constant battle." Jasmine decided to channel her emotional pain and insecurity into something that would make life better for ostomates in her same situation.

Jasmine Stacey

Jasmine Stacey

Always interested in fashion, Jasmine decided to go back to school and enrolled as a design student at London College of Fashion in 2011. She saw the lingerie industry as one in serious need of a transformation saying, “Most lingerie ads continue to promote impossible beauty standards. Am I supposed to feel empowered? I don’t. Photoshopped images don’t send a body-positive message for women, regardless if they have an ostomy or not.”

While still in nursing, Jasmine started a lingerie business and invited women with an ostomy to be models, envisioning all of her future collections the same way. “I want to take the stigma away from having an ostomy and prove that women of all body shapes are sexy,” she said. Her first collection debuted in 2015, and the idea for her second collection in 2016 came from nature, namely spiders. Last year, the business succeeded faster than she could’ve imagined when BBC Three’s ‘Amazing Humans’ documentary series featured Jasmine with model and ostomate, Lydia Charlotte Andrew. The response was incredible with over 13 million views. Since then, she has left nursing to pursue Jasmine Stacey Collection full-time and her newest pieces just became available last month.

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Jasmine didn’t start in the lingerie industry with a background in business, but she had all the makings of an entrepreneur long before her first collection was released. “I feel like I’ve been preparing for this my whole life,” she said. Making lingerie products is a very detail-intensive kind of business and JSC underwear is not about compromise, using only the best fabrics that work for each piece, handstitched and produced in Nottingham, UK. Jasmine Stacey is goal-driven and her mission to incorporate models with scars and ostomies is helping to spread awareness. “I will always have ostomates as models,” she said. “I never felt secure in my own body and felt alone. Now I belong to this amazing community of ostomates. I am empowered by their stories.”

Megan Rowdon in the Vixen Set by Jasmine Stacey Collection.

Megan Rowdon in the Vixen Set by Jasmine Stacey Collection.

The JSC brand goes to great lengths to drive home the message: be who you want to be. Little details like inspirational quotes on social media posts and beautifully gift-wrapped boxes for the products are all intended for her cherished customers. Jasmine is also a proud supporter of the Purple Wings Charity. All of those traits and dreams are being put into action, but becoming an entrepreneur hasn’t been easy, “Fashion is always changing and it's hard,” she said. “Every day is filled with unknowns. Plus being an ostomate in a ‘body-perfect’ industry has brought its own special challenges.” But there’s a determination to take a stand for women with ostomies because Jasmine believes that everyone deserves to feel good about themselves and their body.

Sarah Anderson & Lydia Charlotte Andrew in "Autumn Blues" collection.

Sarah Anderson & Lydia Charlotte Andrew in "Autumn Blues" collection.

So, what’s next for Jasmine Stacey Collection? Jasmine shared, “I’d love to see us be a global brand. To do a range for M&S would be incredible! I’d also love to branch into swimwear and male products.” What we do know is that at the heart of it, there will always be a purpose. You can find all collections at www.jasminestaceycollection.co.

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