By Ali Cudby
When a retailer is in business for the long haul, the business will invariably encounter changes. Sometimes stores hang on to the tried and true, hoping for the best, while others embrace change and grow. Liliana Mann, owner of the iconic Linea Intima, in Toronto, has gone the latter route.
To celebrate the boutique’s 15th anniversary, Mann opened a 1330 sq ft location in luxurious Bayview Village. Within the classic Linea look, there is a new shop-in-shop concept store, called “elle aime – for the love of me.” elle aime’s energy is younger and cheekier, with a boudoir-inspired design that’s “Barbie meets Bendel’s.” “elle aime allows me to create a more affordable, on-trend collection of brands that I wouldn’t have previously offered,” says Liliana. “It will include directional labels such as La Fée Verte and Claudette, Deshabille from Australia, UK brands Addiction, Mimi Holliday and Made by Niki, plus Canadian-designed Fortnight.” elle aime will also tie into the Linea Intima boutique by offering cutting-edge groups from current Linea Intima favorites such as Betsey Johnson, Prima Donna and Marlies Dekkers to the sexy lineup, as well as a tastefully curated selection of Lelo intimate lifestyle products.
Mann was inspired to create elle aime for both personal and professional reasons. On the one hand, “becoming a grandmother energized and inspired me to reach out to a younger customer,” she shared. “It’s an exciting opportunity to introduce the new ‘me generation’ to the benefits of beautiful lingerie and show them it’s what’s underneath your outfit that counts most!” On the other hand, Mann’s, “customer demographic is aging – and because I’m in this business for the long term, I need to attract a younger customer.”
Speaking exclusively with Retail Briefs, Mann offered the following advice to fellow retailers considering an expansion move to a different demographic. “You have to seriously consider if you are passionate about servicing this demographic. It can only be successful if the owner identifies with a younger look and customer. Secondly, you need to consider the size of the present location to determine if it’s suitable for this type of expansion. You have to be honest with yourself – is it a venture you’re suited to?”
Looking back at the overall expansion effort, Mann reflected on what inspired her, challenged her, and what she would do differently If doing the expansion over again, “I would keep a closer eye on the expansion budget,” says Mann. “As it always does in projects of this nature, unexpected challenges hold up the completion date and result in added costs.” One of the critical success factors – and challenges – was finding the right suppliers, with product that suited Mann’s vision for “elle aime.”
On the topic of inspirations, Mann doesn’t hesitate to share the source of her passion for the project. “Seeing my vision come to life with customers bringing their daughters and granddaughters to shop with them – and the surprise and delight of the younger ones in finding styles they loved. It energized not only myself but also my business.”