Childhood friends Lesley Foreman of Highland Park and Jami Weiman of Northbrook were tired of wearing their illnesses on their sleeves, so they created stylish swimwear accessories to cover everything from ports, pouches, and other medical devices.
The Bandtastik and Bandiva cover-ups are designed “so you can move around and cover whatever you don’t want people to see. It serves two purposes for fashion and medical,” said Foreman.
The Bandtastik is made from resilient fabrics that are chlorine and salt resistant. It can be worn at least seven different ways to cover head, bust, waist, hips or thighs. The Bandiva is a colorful head wrap that can also be worn in or out of the water.
Foreman, a Northbrook psychotherapist, and Weiman met when they were 11 years-old in 6th grade at Marie Murphy School in Wilmette. “Jami was the wild and crazy girl and I lived vicariously through her. Secretly I could get her to do bad things, because no one ever suspected me,” said Foreman. They will always be grateful to their first meeting, and their ability to overcome life- threatening illnesses, which they incorporated in their company’s name, Bwell 11.
“Jami’s been through so many procedures and has been such a wonderful nurse when I got sick. Every week she would cook healthy food and bring fresh flowers, because she went through it,” said Foreman.
Their Bwell 11 website went live in July, on Foreman’s one-year remission from ovarian cancer. “In the cancer world they are not as focused on lifestyle issues. Hospitals don’t supply information like that. That’s what inspired and encouraged me to design these products,” said Foreman.
Weiman was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when she was 15 years old, and she has been self-conscious in a bathing suit for most of her life. Now she can slip on a Bandtastik around her waist to cover up bloating, or wear it on her hips to hide unsightly stretch marks.
“The Bandtastiks are comfortable enough to even wear two at once,” said Weiman.
Foreman explained, “At one time I had an abdominal port and a chest port in which I could have worn one over my shoulder for the chest, and another on my waist. When you lose your hair, you’re most likely to have a port. That’s why we sell the Bandiva and Bandtastik as a set.”
The Bandtastik and Bandiva are available at local retailers Jerome Krause in Skokie, and Londo Mondo in Winnetka. The Chicago-made products will also be featured in the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center Boutique at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
In addition to the other stores, the two have been busy increasing their online presence. “We’re working with the website CureDiva. It’s a one-stop shop for cancer patients,” said Weiman.
As summer is coming to an end, there are still benefits of wearing the Bwell products. Foreman recommends wearing the Bandtastik as a tube top with a shirt over it for easy accessibility to ports for chemotherapy, or as another layer of coverage for pouches to protect against leakage.
“Cancer doesn’t take a vacation. You still need to cover your head all year round,” said Foreman.
For more information on the Bandtastik and Bandiva, visit www.bwell11.com.