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Featuring ~ A Sophisticated Pair

April 10, 2015

newlogoaSubmitted by Erica L. Windle, owner of A Sophisticated Pair in Burlington, North Carolina

For years, I hated bras—a funny statement coming from the proprietor of a lingerie boutique.  My experiences bra shopping were nightmarish and traumatizing, sometimes reducing me to tears, but when you’re 17 and needing a UK 30H—a size I, like most other people, had no idea existed, the options are scarce.  I was forced to settle for ill-fitting 38DDDs that did little more than hold my boobs together underneath the underwire and create a landslide of shapeless breast tissue tumbling over my waist.  Then, when I was 21 and losing weight, I visited Nordstrom for a proper bra fitting, and I was pleasantly surprised they had a bra in my new size, UK 36GG, which fit better than any bra I owned in my entire life.  For several minutes, I unashamedly stared at myself in the mirror, marveling at my new figure and feeling good about myself.  Even though the bra was beige and plain, I was happy to find something which finally fit.

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Eventually, I became a little disappointed that every time I went to buy bras my choices were beige, beige, and more beige.  Where were the pretty bras?  My desire for more options led me to research bras online to see what else was available for a busty girl like me.  The information was not plentiful at the time as this was before the age of lingerie and bra blogging, but I was persistent and patient.

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Over the next couple of years, I spent my free time looking up more information on the lingerie industry, bra fitting, and boutique ownership.  Why weren’t there more places where women could be properly sized without fear of judgment?  The UK lingerie market was so far ahead of ours in the US that there were already super cute, fun styles in higher cup sizes being produced.  Why weren’t these carried locally?  Why would I have to order from overseas just to get a bra that fit?

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Eventually, these questions began to nag at me, and I realized what I really wanted was to open my own store.  I wanted to create a boutique with a better selection across sizes, where proper fitting techniques were advocated, and where body snark was not allowed.  Because of my past experiences, I did not want anyone to feel self-conscious because of what size they needed.  Motivated, excited, and more than a little naïve, I enlisted my aunt and dad on my quest, and A Sophisticated Pair was born!

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Coming from a computer programming background with zero retail experience made the process challenging, and we made more than a few mistakes.  Failures became opportunities to improve, and I learned not to be a slave to traditional thinking and to identify what I wanted the business to be, regardless of whether it fits the standard mold.  We are constantly growing and evolving to accommodate the diverse needs of our customers, and while we are a small shop, we pride ourselves on treating customers like family.  Our store is an energizing, welcoming, and most importantly “Judgment Free” space for women to receive expert advice and individual attention.  My goal is for people to leave with a positive experience of the shop but more importantly a positive feeling about themselves.  In a market increasingly dominated by online sales and discount retailers, I think it is paramount to show customers why the boutique experience is the best experience.

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A Sophisticated Pair is located at:
1143E St. Mark’s Church Road
Burlington, NC 27215
t: (336) 270-6744

 

 

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Featuring ~ Lion’s Lair Boutique

November 16, 2014

LionsLair logoSubmitted by Kimberly Berger, owner of Lion’s Lair Boutique in Islamorada, Florida

I started Lion’s Lair as an airbrush artist, painting on everything from motorcycles to murals to t-shirts to swimwear.  Due to the store’s tropical location, hand painted swimwear became a very popular item. In 1996 as a 26 year old, DDD-cup entrepreneur, I quickly realized that I wasn’t the only one that didn’t fit in mainstream sizes and size matched swimwear sets. My customers were requesting mix and match separates and larger top and bottom sizes in a market that had yet to recognize the demand. So I launched my own locally made swimwear line. The response was huge and I expanded to double my store’s square footage in 2002.

In 2003, I became pregnant and gained 85 lbs. With such a large weight gain, it was difficult to tell if I was pregnant or just extremely overweight. I soon experienced firsthand how shunned and ignored the average plus size customer is.  It was at this point that I decided to add plus sizes to Lion’s Lair’s specialty mix. I wanted to cater to all women who have difficulty shopping in mainstream stores due to their curves, and offer a personalized shopping experience to every woman that walked through her doors, regardless of their size.

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By 2006, Lion’s Lair offered over 20 different swimwear brands, and a variety of clothing to their customers. Every Lion’s Lair customer was given a personal consultation and was professionally fit. Adding bras and lingerie to the mix was the next logical step. In 2008 they we once again expanded to our present 4000 sq. ft.

I strongly believe that it is not the retailer’s place to dictate to the customer what they should buy, but rather the retailer’s responsibility to listen to and serve the customer. It is important to enhance the customer’s shopping experience, to educate them about the product and enable them to make informed decisions. A retailer focused on listening to its customer is given the opportunity to act as a representative for them and express their wish list to the manufacturers. If these services are provided the sales will follow and a loyal customer base is created.

As a result Lion’s Lair has become known for its fitting expertise, its high standards in customer service and as an authority in the world of swimwear, lingerie and clothing for the well-endowed woman. I retired my airbrushes in 2004 but continue to use my artistic eye and creative flair in the development of fashion forward and figure flattering styles for my hard-to-fit clientele.  We were the first to introduce the ‘swim bra’, an underwire garment that is designed to be worn under a tankini shell. The ‘swim bra’ offers the larger cup customer the same support as a bra but is made out of fabrics designed to get wet. I shared the concept with the designers at Eveden and shortly thereafter Elomi Swimwear was born.

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Designers from all over the world come to visit and consult with both my staff and myself, believing that we have truly become the voice of the consumer. Lion’s Lair has become a destination store to woman seeking hard to find sizes, and an exceptional shopping experience. Lion’s Lair has a website (www.LLSwim.com) but we have chosen not to have a shopping cart. Due to the nature of swimwear and lingerie sizing and its inconsistency between brands, we prefer to speak directly to our web customers. This enables us to provide the same level of service remotely as we do in person and it ensures that the customer receives the correct size the first time.

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Lion’s Lair evolved into what it is today due to my own body type challenges. Regardless of her build, a woman tends to look in the mirror and dislike what she sees. Compound that with not fitting in the cookie cutter sizes offered by mainstream stores and shopping can quickly become a nightmare. However, by maintaining a selection of over 220 sizes in swimwear, lingerie and clothing, and providing one-on-one service, Lion’s Lair makes shopping enjoyable again. My staff and I are passionate about our mission to provide superior customer service, exceptional quality and the perfect fit for real, and beautiful women of all shapes and sizes.  Paradise for the hard to fit in a tropical location: sounds like a good reason to visit the Florida Keys to me.

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Lion’s Lair is located at

8126 Overseas Highway

Islamorada, Florida 33036

305 664 9922

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Featuring ~ Dusty Rose Fine Lingerie & Sportswear Boutiques

September 17, 2014

DustyRose_logoaSubmitted by Lisa Feller owner and partner with Roberta Zahl of Dusty Rose in New City & RyeBrook, NY

Opening a small business is different today as compared to when my mom, Roberta, opened Dusty Rose 34 years ago, but the backbone of a mom and pop store remains unchanged.  There is more to opening a store than filling it with merchandise and waiting for shoppers to come in to make purchases.   A successful retail store needs a few key practices to make it prosper for years to come.  An owner who works on the floor helping customers and being on a first-name basis with those customers are two of the most important elements of a successful boutique.

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When customers walk into our stores and they see my mom and me on the floor helping people alongside our employees, they feel they are well taken care of by all members of our staff.  It’s so easy, as an owner, to sit behind a desk and catch up on busy work, but actually giving assistance to customers shows a deeper caring and an attention to detail that you don’t get in larger stores.

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Owning small boutiques affords us the luxury to give one-on-one assistance to every person who walks into our stores.  As a store owner I can say, knowing my customers by name, welcoming them to my shop, and asking them about their families is one of the most important ingredients for making our stores flourish.  Another bonus when you are in business for as long as we are is you get to work with multiple generations of families.  It’s really special fitting someone for their first bra, and then selling them undergarments for their wedding, and finally helping them with a nursing bra!

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I know these practices work well because, not only are we intimately connected with our customers, we know what they like and need so we are able to carry the right merchandise, and our 2nd store has been in business for 25 years!  When customers feel comfortable at your shop they will always return.  They will share their trustworthy, first-rate experience with friends and family.  Word-of-mouth is unparalleled when it comes to advertising, better than a like on social media!

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Dusty Rose is located at:

170 S. Main Street, New City, NY 10956.

114 S. Ridge Street, Rye Brook, New York 10573

 

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Featuring LiviRae Lingerie

August 25, 2014

livirae-gold-logo-1aSubmitted by Molly Hopkins & Cynthia Decker, co-owners of LiviRae Lingerie in Kennesaw, Georgia. “Cynthia and I met while working together in a lingerie store in Atlanta, Georgia a few years ago. That was really what started our friendship, our desire to help women. After some time at the lingerie store, we both became top sales producers and realized we had done everything that we felt we could do with what they had to offer. We realized that the shop we were working with really couldn’t help every type of woman, and there were more women out there who needed our help. Once we realized there were needs that were not being met, we decided it was time to start our own store and carry the products we wanted, making sure that every woman could find something that made her feel good. Our hearts were hurting for the women we had to turn away and we wanted to continue helping them in our own way! We left our jobs in 2006 and opened our own business, LiviRae Lingerie! We named the store after our two daughters, Olivia and Rainey, whom we hope will one day take over the store and be able to help and bra fit women like we do.”

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LiviRae Lingerie is a place where women of all shapes and sizes can shop for gorgeous lingerie in a judgment free zone. One of our primary missions is to help women at any age, receive the proper education about bra fit! Carrying bra sizes from 28A – 50N, we created a place to fit everybody with every body! Our tag line says it all, “No Bust Too Big or Small, We Fit ‘Em All” …and we do just that!

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Our shop is located in Kennesaw, Georgia and provides a lingerie experience that helps women feel confident and comfortable through their entire shopping experience. LiviRae Lingerie specializes in bra fitting, custom lingerie, plus size bras and specialty products such as augmentation and mastectomy bras.

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Following our hit reality show, “Double Divas” that aired on the Lifetime network, our brand went from local to international in just a few months! With that growth, we decided to expand with it and find a way to offer our bra fitting expertise to women all over the world! With that, we created Virtual Fit! Virtual Fit uses Skype to bring the LiviRae Lingerie experience to women from the comforts of their own home. We give women a one-on-one bra fitting experience, similar to what they would receive in the store, and advise them on styles and products that will work for them.

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We love what we do because of the difference that we are able to make in women’s lives every day. When you see a woman cry tears of joy because of the relief and happiness that she feels from putting on bra that fits the way it should, it makes everything worth it. We want to boost their confidence, relieve their pain, and make them feel beautiful, comfortable and sexy! We believe we have a God given talent to bra fit women, and we love nothing more than to use that talent every day, helping women who may not have anywhere else to turn. We always believed that when you have a mission, a certain mindset, and a heart for your passion, great things will happen.
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LiviRae is located at: 440 Ernest Barrett Pkwy Suite #31, Kennesaw, Georgia 30144.
770-429-7004

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Featuring ~ Jenette Bras

June 12, 2014

JBLockupwTag-nSubmitted by Jenette Goldstein owner of Jenette Bras in Los Angeles & Pasadena, California

I opened Jenette Bras in 2009 in an old working-class neighborhood in Los Angeles called East Hollywood. I found a great 1920’s storefront, formerly Pak-Am Stationery (for all your Pakistani-American office supply needs) in a sort of off-center bohemian district of bike shops, junk stores and small theaters. It was cheaper than prime shopping district space and loads more fun. My business plan, such as it was, didn’t call for browsers or impulse shoppers. I calculated that I was a destination store that women would be willing to travel to, and this turned out to be right.

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I myself had to go all the way to England to be properly fitted. I was attending a science fiction fan convention (due to some notoriety connected with my other job) and I stumbled into a shop called Bravissimo. You all know what comes next: I went from 36DD to 32G in the twinkling of a tape measure. It wasn’t just math, either: I looked five times more hot. Back home in Los Angeles, my husband was pleased. I, however, was only growing more annoyed. “I’m a goddamn Hollywood actress,” I trilled, why can’t I find a store in Los Angeles that has bras in my size!?”  “Why don’t WE open one,” he replied, and so our journey began.

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Three pieces of advice I DID NOT take: 1. You need to locate in a nice mall or upscale shopping area with lots of foot traffic. 2. You’ve gotta sell online, that’s where you’ll make all your money. 3. Don’t limit yourself to larger cup sizes. You’re giving up half the market!

I’m sorry we can’t carry bras for my A to C cup sisters, but I’m very happy with my niche. Busty gals have been treated badly by the US lingerie industry, and there are a lot of us. We opened our second store in Pasadena a couple of years ago and both stores are doing well.

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Three principles I follow religiously: 1. We are not a sexy boudoir shop. We sell high-quality bras to dynamic and stylish women who need them. Our crisp, mid-century design style complements that idea.  2. We are a bra FIT store. The front is for check-in and check-out. The fit salon is where the action is. 3. Talk to a human: we don’t read from a script, we don’t sell on commission,  we don’t tell you it looks great when it doesn’t, and, of course, we don’t sell on-line (because an algorithm can’t fit you, no matter what you may have heard).

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I love working in the shop. Of course we have difficult customers from time to time, but they are far outweighed by the throngs of terrific dames that walk through the door. Best is when we have a full house, and D-plus women of all shapes, ages and walks of life are popping in and out of their dressing rooms like whack-a-moles, comparing notes and cracking jokes while my girls and I labor expertly to find the perfect thing for each of them. Bras don’t actually fly through the air, usually, but it feels that way!

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Jenette Bras is located at:

4308 Melrose Ave
Los Angeles, CA
(323) 665-7490
18 E Holly St
Pasadena, CA
(626) 744-9484

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Featuring ~ Just For You Fine Lingerie

May 8, 2014

Submitted by Janice Welch, owner of Just For You Fine Lingerie in Waterloo, Ontario

I have always had a passion for lingerie from a very early age; my first set I ever bought at 18 was electric blue (it was the 80s lol) with matching garter. I dreamed of owning my own lingerie store but never in a million years thought it would be a reality.  I’m an English girl with big boobs and moved to Canada in 2003. Buying lingerie that fits was a nightmare and there was no one in my area that could do the job.  That’s when I decided that I can’t be the only big busted lady in Canada and I opened my store in 2007.  We offer full fittings and carry over 150 sizes in store at all times.  My dream finally became my reality and for 5 0f those 7 yrs we have been voted the best lingerie store in the tri-cities . What more Can a Girl ask for :).

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I am all about fun I want my ladies to come into my store and love the whole experience. When they leave, I want them to look forward to having to come back for new product.  I want women to feel excited about buying new bras and experiment with colours.  I tell them no one will see your underwear but you and when you wake up in the morning and put something pretty and feminine on, you know and that’s what will put a spring in your step and a smile on your face for the rest of the day.

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Real women ……………….. fitting real women

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Just For You Fine Lingerie is located at
75 King Street So
Waterloo, Ontario N2J 1P2

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