Victor Portes is Executive Director of A&E Innovation & Design B.V. and Director & Chief Creative Officer of Silou Elle:tm: (3D Printed) Customized Bra Inlay & Bra Fit Solutions. He has over 20 years of combined experience in the areas of 3D printing, experience design, branded environments & event design, in-store retail communication, strategy and concept development, product development, publishing, art direction and education. Currently he lives in Amsterdam, but his career has taken him to cities all over the world, including New York, Santo Domingo, Barcelona, Dusseldorf and Munich.
3DHEALS innovator story series feature interviews of a group of innovators in the healthcare 3D printing industry.
Q: What inspired you the idea behind Silou Elle™
A: Let me start with a quote by L’Wren Scott,
“Enhancing a woman’s silhouette and enhancing a woman’s beauty — both contribute to enhancing her confidence, so they’re synonymous, really.”
What this said, my family has been hit very hard by breast cancer. In the past ten years, I lost four family members. In addition to this, I have a sister and a niece who are survivors. I also have to add that, on the day we officially started with this project, my wife Mirjam was diagnosed with breast cancer. I was very lucky to have Marianna Duckker (one of our co-founders) there to support me. Marianna is the owner of Marilinge, the leading specialist in Amsterdam for breast prostheses, custom lingerie, swim-wear, and underwear, who happens to be is a breast cancer survivor herself. Mirjam had surgery, double lumpectomy, radiation, and chemotherapy. It is safe to say that she is now cancer free for 17 months and back to work as Corporate Secretary of the Amsterdam Central Library (OBA), tough girl!
From an innovation perspective, I guess I was at the right place at the right time, with access to the to good knowledge e.g. 3D printing. Through my network, I had come across some material developments that help me connect the dots. From that moment on, I was confident that customized breast prosthesis and bra inlays and bra fit solutions will become a reality available for women worldwide.
Q: What were the initial challenges?
A: Our initial challenge was to find a way to make our vision, product ideas and business model tangible in such a way that all stakeholders clearly understood the impact that our innovation will bring to the world. Another crucial part was getting the right people on board to develop the business model and carry out the vision.
3D Printed breast prosthetics for breast cancer survivors
Q: What are the current challenges?
A: There are many challenges, including funding, continuously leveraging our resources within various networks (ranging from the scientific and healthcare communities, the policy makers, the support groups, the 3d printing, and fashion systems). The biggest challenge is having patience while managing momentum at the same time. This is especially important when you are considered crazy enough to try and transform an entire (global) industry. Although we are at the early stages of prototyping our product, our new approach to product innovation, business development, and strategic use of our networks in the past few months has put the wind in our sails. So expect to hear some exciting news from Silou Elle™ before the end of this year!
Q: What is your vision for Silou Elle?
A: In 3 years, a working solution everywhere in the US and Europe. In 5 years, world wide.
Q: Who founded Siluo Elle?
A: Inspired by our individual’s experiences with Breast Cancer, the team members concluded two years ago that the existing solutions for women having had breast surgery were the result of high technical skills, done in the best possible way but not “custom made.” This unique and international combination of talent is determined to come up, with the best, next generation of the external breast prosthesis, custom made and designed with understanding.
Silou Elle™ Team:
Victor Luis Portes Founder-Director & Chief Creative Officer; Frans Blanchard Director Business, Communication & Legal Advice ; Marianna Dukker is Mastectomy Lingerie Product Development & Healthcare Expert; Donato DiBiase. Biomdical, Business Management, Product Development & Technology Strategist ; Arnold Perizonius Lingerie Business, Product Development & Manufacturing Advisor.