Double Blog: Soft Works Salad Spinner Review + How I Wash My Bras

Hello Everyone,

No, this is not some prank post.  Today, I am seriously reviewing a salad spinner.  Don’t give up on me yet though!  Several years ago, Muscles with Curves posted a blog about using a salad spinner to gently dry her padded and molded cup bras faster, and I found her experiment fascinating albeit unrelated to my life.  Until I discovered Comexim and Anna Pardal, I lived in unpadded bras which are not only lower maintenance to wash but also dry faster on account of how easy it is to remove the excess water.  When my wardrobe transitioned almost exclusively to padded bras, I had totally forgotten about the tip until an incredibly generous customer gave me a salad spinner a few weeks ago.  She had already given me a drying rack for bras, which I will also showcase in this post, and before continuing, I want to extend a heartfelt thanks to her for not only supporting the store but for also being such a sweet and generous soul.  <3


Available to purchase from Williams and Sonoma!

In the spirit of the preferential method for washing bras (it’s by hand!), I am going to walk you through a typical laundry day in part so I can recommend three stellar products in one short post but also to show you how easy it is to take the best possible care of your intimates.

Step 1:  Fill up a sink or bowl with cold water and one of the best soaps on the market:  Eucalan!  If you missed my post extolling the virtues of this hypo-allergenic, rinseless soap, you can also use anything mild or even body wash.  For today’s batch of assorted Anna Pardal bras, I chose the sweetly scented Jasmine.


Step 2:  Agitate the water by hand to create suds before placing bras in the water.  Ensure each bra is not only fully submerged but also covered on the front and back with water and soap because doing so allows the fabric and padding to absorb the wash-filled water completely to clean the bras and eliminate odors.


Step 3:  Go do something else for at least 15 minutes!  Read, take a walk, destroy another level in Candy Crush, watch an episode of Orange is the New Black, or whatever floats your proverbial boat.  Personally, I combine my bra washing with general cleaning, meaning I am off engaging in the less glamorous aspects of home and pet ownership such as scrubbing toilets, vacuuming the area by the dogs’ food bowls for the third time, or sweeping up half of the litter Hades kicked out onto the floor. Read more ›

Step 4:  Once the bras have fully soaked, Eucalan ensures me I am under no obligation to rinse them further, but I like to drain the water and lightly rinse anyway.  In winter, I may change my tune, but in summer, sweat needs a little rinsing for my peace of mind.  If you are using other soap, you will need to rinse them completely before continuing.


Step 5:  With the bras freshly cleaned, squeeze the cups and wings to remove excess water.  Note that I said “squeeze” not “wring.”  Twisting the cups or underwires can cause damage to the bra and impair the fit.

Step 6a:  At this point, I hang all of my freshly cleaned bras up to dry, but this time, I am adding an additional step by using the salad spinner.  So, I am 29 years old and had no idea what the purpose of a salad spinner even was.  Clearly, I am not a chef or salad connoisseur, but I read the directions and replaced “salad” with “bras” easily enough.  Because the cups of my bras are kind of big, I only put two into the container at once, and I also spun two individually.  I pumped the top of the salad spinner as instructed, and it was soon awash in color as my Anna Pardal bras whizzed around at warp speed.


When I pulled them out of the spinner, I instantly noticed a difference in the dampness of the bras and was astonished by how much water pooled in the bottom.


Wash_03 Sorry for the cell phone pictures, but I left my camera at work. Still, I think it’s pretty amazing to see how much excess water the spinner removed from just two bras.

The underwire and cup shape were not damaged by the salad spinner, and I was instead treated to an extremely easy way of decreasing the drying time.  Afterward, I hung up my bras on this amazing fold-out drying rack I mentioned earlier:


Available for purchase from the Container Store!

I have used this product for over two years now and love it!  It’s great for laying sweaters to dry too, and it folds up neatly so as not to hog extra space.

For control purposes, I also washed two bras without using the salad spinner, and these bras took several more hours to completely dry.  I would estimate a quick use of the salad spinner cut my drying time by one third.  This is great news for people needing to wear a bra in a relatively quick amount of time post-washing.  I was pretty happy too because in my zeal for experimentation, I washed all of my bras at once . . . late Monday evening . . . when I needed to put one on in a couple hours.  So if you have a salad spinner already or can pick one up on the cheap, it’s a worthy investment for customers wearing padded or molded cups.

Also, I still haven’t used it for spinning salad  . . . .




Posted in Recommendations, Tips & Tricks Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Product Review: Tutti Rouge Nichole

Hello Everyone,

When I reviewed the Tutti Rouge Liliana last week, I mentioned the obscene amount of lapsed time between trying the brands offerings, and when I saw Nichole, I felt the tinglings of longing in the lingerie chamber of my heart.  Liliana was a necessity to test because I wanted to see how the design changed from the Tutti Rouge launch in 2013, but Nichole was a newer style with a gorgeous aesthetic which spoke to my personal craving.  Not to mention, early feedback emphasized the use of a narrow center gore, deep cups, and a rounded, forward profile—basically three components all of my favorite bras possess.

Sizing & Fit:  I ordered Nichole and Liliana at the same time, and both of them left me in an indecisive mess over sizing.  In the past, I estimated my Tutti Rouge size would be one cup and one band up from my regular UK size.  My initial samples confirmed this hypothesis, but a lot can change in two years . . . including my weight.  I was close to my heaviest when I ordered and worried that if I did not order a large enough size in band and cup, I would be in the same position as my previous reviews.  Ultimately, I ordered both in 32HH when I was around a 32H in other UK brands.  Not to totally spoil the Liliana review if you haven’t read it yet, but the 32 band required a full extender to even clasp in an uncomfortably snug fashion around my squishy body.  The cup seemed fine, which had me thinking Nichole would also be tight in band and fine in the cup.  As it turns out, the 32 band was loose—a fact which became worse by the time I filmed the video as I lost a few pounds.   Fully-stretched, my Nichole measures 35″, and unlike the sturdy, stiff wings of Liliana, Nichole uses a thin powernet mesh prone to stretching with wear.


The cup size for Nichole was initially perfect on my larger side but gaped slightly on the smaller; however, the issues were not noticeable under my tops.  As I lost weight, the cups became too large.  Based on my experiences, I contemplated retrying the bra in a 30HH or 28J depending on whether the band was representative of the style as a whole.  Sizing aside, the reviews were accurate in describing the cups as deep and the gore as narrow, thus offering excellent forward projection, incredible lift, and a rounded profile.  Nichole creates an overall look comparable to Comexim, Anna Pardal, and Cleo Marcie.

Read more ›


Given how much I enjoy the shape, I know some of you will question why I did not reorder Nichole in another size for the review.  While the cups are deep toward the center, they are also wider on the side, and the bra uses heavy, tall underwires.  Many small band/large cup bras fall victim to this issue, and the result is a cup which pulls sharply into my arm, creating welts and red marks.  Of course, it occurred to me that a smaller cup may fix the height issue too, and I had not ruled out revisiting the bra.  Oh, except for that tacking.  Did I not mention that?  Ordinarily, tacking, i.e., the act of the underwire sitting flat against the sternum, is a good thing.  Tacking separates the breasts and can often provide better support.  Nichole does not have ordinary tacking.  It has SUPER TACKING!  Nay—BORE INTO MY STERNUM AND LEAVE MARKS TACKING!  I have only ever experienced this phenomenon once before in a Panache tankini, which I mistakenly thought would be fine.  It was terribly uncomfortable, so I tried bending the wires.  Nothing helped, and I ultimately cut them out entirely.  Hard tacking like this hurts me, but I was hopeful that perhaps it was a defect.  I have heard from other people who experienced the same issue though, so I will not be retrying this style.

It also felt bruised for a good 3 hours afterward.

It also felt bruised for a good 3 hours afterward.

Materials & Design:  I feel a little bad harping on the tacking problem because I otherwise love this bra!  The three-section cups are made from a lightweight, breathable mesh, and while the wings are stretchy, I do like how they smooth the sides without feeling binding either.  It is a 100F outside right now while I sit in the confines of my air-conditioned store, and any southern east cost readers will tell you we only ever have high heat with high humidity too.  You can drown while breathing today.  A bra as lightweight as Nichole can be amazing for times like this because the fabrics keep you cool while still providing support.  Fully-adjustable straps are wonderful, and I cannot fault the quality of materials.


Aesthetically, Nichole ticks off every box in my “Erica’s Cravings in a Bra List.”  Lately, I want to see bras which use minimalistic details to create sophisticated and fun designs—a description Nichole completely embodies.  First, the pomegranate color feels richer and deeper in person than the pictures, and the color is a little unusual for a lingerie market dominated by true reds, hot pinks, purples, and lately, all manner of blue.  The knotted embroidery along the underwire eschews the traditional floral temptation as well as the overly simple plain black fabric in favor of geometric uniqueness.  The lace embroidery at the top completes the contrast, and the leopard print bow at the center is a fun final touch.  I really wanted to try the white version because the crispness of a black and white juxtaposition speaks to me, but I live in dark colors (yes, even on days like today).  Color bleed is a problem people!  Regrettably I erred on the side of practicality, but I still love it!  Sweet Nothings also reviewed the bra in the mint color which is frothy and gorgeous too.  It really upset me that I had issues here because this bra is something I would buy in multiples.


Final Thoughts:  I am not sure whether the tacking problem is only cup-size specific or not, but I know it was enough to cause red marks after a short time.  Keep this in mind if you are ordering it!


Posted in Product Reviews, Recommendations Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Product Review: Fleur’t Wild Child Collection

Hello Everyone,

For several months now, I have been mentioning on our Facebook page as well as in our email newsletter that the store was finally branching out into sleepwear.  One of my primary goals over the last two years has been to transition from being known strictly as a “bra shop” into a boutique customers visit again for their lingerie, sleep, shapewear, and swimsuit needs.  When I went to Curves NYC—an uber exciting industry trade show—last February, I visited with several brands to see product samples, discuss prices, and view upcoming collections.  Unfortunately, much of the sleepwear I saw had two-piece sets retailing upwards of $100, and while the fabrics and quality were truly decadent in the best possible way, I knew the price point was too high for our current location and inventory mix.  However, when I visited the table for Fleur’t which, like the other options, tends to have higher end pieces, I also noticed a lower cost line called “Fleur’t with Me” similar to the original in price, quality, and design aesthetic.  So stricken was I by their products, I ordered the entire Wild Child Collection in Heather Grey/Black for this summer.  Naturally, I had to test drive them myself first.


3/4 Sleeve Crop Top: S-XL, $38 Cropped Pant: S-XL, $38


Racerback Tank: S-XL, $38 Boxer Short: S-XL, $29

Made from a dreamy, lightweight Rayon/Spandex blend which hugs the curves and caresses the skin, the Wild Child sleepwear collection features five interchangeable pieces:  a tank dress, a crochet racerback tank shirt, boxer shorts, a 3/4 sleeve top, and a pair of crop pants.  Until now, I usually purchase cotton sleep and lounge pieces, but the hand of the fabric Fleur’t with Me uses is exceptionally soft to the touch.


Crochet Racerback Tank Dress: S-XL, $58


It even camouflages tummy rolls while seated!

Shortly after opening the shop, I realized I suffer from multiple sleepwear personality syndrome—MSPS for those in the technical field.  One personality craves the silken gowns with delicate lace detailing, the sheer lengthy dressing gowns perhaps with a few feathers, the babydolls with cascading ruffles—all worn effortlessly with a martini in hand.  The real me, on the other hand, has three Jack Russell Terrorists plus Hades the Indoor Cat and Mordecai the Outdoor Cat, and all of us live in the country with bugs and dirt and Jack Daniels.  I was also a tomboy in my youth, so my penchant most nights veers either toward yoga pants or cotton shorts with an oversized (stained and/or holy) t-shirt or, if I am feeling really snazzy, menswear-inspired pajama sets.  Read more ›


And that is perfectly okay!  There is no reason why I should have to wear anything other than my Star-Athon ’92 t-shirt and polka dot pants (my current outfit while I type this blog post), but I do long for something between high maintenance glamour and low maintenance shabby-leave-out-the-chic.  Ladies and Gents:  Fleur’t with Me is IT!


Since we have five pieces to cover, let’s begin with the tank dress.  Ordinarily, I would buy the Medium or Large in this for sleeping, but I used an X-Large in the pictures because the booty and boobs jacked up the hemline a little high for my comfort in the smaller sizes.  Featuring a crochet racerback made from non-abrasive, stretch lace, the tank dress offers a flattering peek-a-boo effect while the smooth grey fabric drapes along the lines of the body for a comfortable, flattering, and even sexy fit.  The shape also works well paired with the boxer shorts or crop pants if you prefer more coverage on the bottom.


Worn with Anna Pardal FiFi Bra

For those preferring a shorter variation, Fleur’t with Me also designed a tank with the same crochet racerback as the dress, but in the tank, the back is open, allowing the fabric underneath to overlap or slyly expose the skin of the lower back.  I love the coy way of adding interest to the piece by keeping the front plain and flared while the back has added appeal.  You’ll notice both the tank and the similar dress sport a straighter cut, meaning it does fall down from the apex of the bust.  As a result, the pieces are not as fitted as t-shirts or camisoles, but I enjoy the gentle way it falls instead of being so body-conscious.  Most of my work clothes fit tighter through the torso, and in my leisure time, I appreciate something looser.  Furthermore, I am also, as my mother affectionately called me, a “rock and roll” sleeper.  Anything tight ends up cutting in uncomfortably at some point during the night.  A size medium fit me well here again.


Worn with Anna Pardal FiFi Bra

In most of the promotional shots of the tank, it is paired with the incredibly cute boxer shorts.  They have an elastic waist with a large black drawstring, a faux button-front, and a lace pocket on the back.  With a shorter length, the shorts end in the upper high region and have an open, roomy fit.  These are comparable to my summer sleep and lounge shorts, but the fabric is significantly nicer and softer.  The medium fit my size 10/12 butt/hip region perfectly fine too.

Fleurt_Tank_02 Fleurt_Tank_03

For those preferring a bottom piece with more coverage, the chic crop pants are perfect.  Like the boxer shorts, the pants feature a faux button-front and a drawstring elastic waist, but these taper through the leg, ending around mid-calf or so.  The thigh and hip region boasts a relaxed fit, and I find the rise works best for me if worn at my natural waist.

Fleurt_Pants_Halftop_04 Fleurt_Pant_07

With the all of other pieces in the collection, I found sizing to be flexible, and I tried each piece in multiple sizes to figure out which worked best.  However, the rejected sizes never looked terrible, but for the crop pants, size makes a difference.  After a recent shopping trip which found me going from my normal size 8/10 to more of a 12 (generous 10) in pants, I immediately grabbed the large for my pictures, mistakenly believing the medium would be too tight and unflattering.   Multiple otherwise amazing but now permanently deleted pictures later, I realized the extra fabric pooled in the lower tummy/crotch region to make it look like I had extra bits down there.  For wearing around the house, the larger size wouldn’t have mattered, but for anything else?  Um, no.  So medium was the clear winner here.  I think the spandex mixed with the generally draping cut of the collection means it is worth sizing down if you are between sizes to achieve a more fitted look.

Fleurt_Pant_04 Fleurt_Pant_03

Finally, Wild Child also offers a 3/4 sleeve top with a banded section on the bottom and triangular cutout with black lace on the front.  Right from the start, I was pretty convinced I wasn’t going to like this top because I thought it was going to poof out along my midsection and obscure my waist, but honestly, this was my favorite piece (with those insanely comfortable crop pants coming next).  The racerback tank, while adorable, doesn’t compare to the amazing fit of this piece for me.  Coupled with the crop pant, I think the 3/4 sleeve top will be ideal for wearing when there’s the chance other people will see you in your sleep or lounge attire.  It is flattering to the figure and incredibly comfortable but still offers some coverage.


Credit to my dad Jason for coming up with the idea to take an iCollection satin robe sash and tie it around this top!

As I mentioned earlier, every piece in the Wild Child collection is interchangeable, making the set ideal for travel.  The pieces also double as outwear clothes too.  To give credit where credit is due, my amazing rep Sarah told me they often market these pieces as casual day wear, and she herself uses them as such.  After trying them, I can easily see why!  I have purchased tops from major retailers (*cough* Banana Republic, Gap, Anna Taylor, and Loft *cough*) whose prices are similar to Fleur’t with Me but the quality isn’t anywhere near this.  Not to mention, the idea of having something that you can wake up wearing Saturday morning and transform into something cute and comfy for a grocery run is very appealing to me.  All of them are easily combined with pieces from your existing wardrobe (except perhaps the shorts which are too short for me to wear regularly) and can be worn either casually or dressed up with accessories.  These may just become the most versatile pieces in your entire wardrobe.  Just sayin’.

Fleurt_Pant_01 Fleurt_HalfTop_02 Fleurt_Pant_05

Imagination is key here because it was HOT to wear that many layers . . . and it was a wee bit too short without heavy tights or leggings.  Thinner or petite figures may not have this issue though.

Imagination is key here because it was too HOT to wear that many layers . . . and it was a wee bit too short without heavy tights or leggings. Thinner or petite figures may not have this issue though.

I also want to note that all opinions expressed here are my own.  I am not about to promote something just because we carry it in the shop.  In fact, the blog typically works in reverse.  I only buy things for the store that I would consider a worthwhile product for our customers to have, but I also know that since we have a reputation as being a “bra place,” it’s hard to remember we carry other amazing products too.  Also, a big thanks to Sarah for encouraging me to try the brand and for her outstanding recommendations!


Fleurt_Pant_06 Fleurt_Pant_02 Fleurt_Tank_01

Posted in Product Reviews, Recommendations Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

Product Review Redux: Tutti Rouge Liliana

Hello Everyone,

When the charming Tutti Rouge brand first debuted two years ago, I was excited to see another new entry into the fuller-market, particularly one which effortlessly blended flirty bubblegum fun with grown-up sophistication for a collection with broad appeal.  Tutti Rouge generously provided me bras to review, including the core style Liliana, but we experienced initial sizing problems.  Ordinarily, I wore a UK 30H/HH, but the 30HH Liliana was too tight to fasten and an entire cup size small, making it difficult to wear often, but I always wanted to revisit the style in a better-fitting size.  Flash forward to 2015, and I finally had my chance!

Sizing & Fit:  Choosing a new size was an agonizing process involving much second guessing and exasperation on my part.  Not only had I heard Tutti Rouge tweaked the original sizing and fit of Liliana in subsequent seasons, but I was also in the throes of weight transition.  When I ordered the bras, I had only lost a pound or two, and my bra size was trending more toward 32H/HH.  Ultimately, I settled on 32HH and crossed my fingers I made the right decision.  Even professional bra fitters struggle with buying bras during weight transition, especially without knowing how the sizing system works, so believe me when I tell you how much I empathize ladies and gents!


When I first received Liliana and took the pictures, I was heavier than when I shot the video which changed the fit.  Initially, I needed a full extender to wear Liliana at a rather uncomfortably snug level, but by the time I filmed my review, I only needed half of the extender for a comfortable fit.  For reference, the fully-stretched band only measures 30.5″ and does not feel prone to stretching.  A friend in the UK who I met through the blog (*waves at Alex*) tried Liliana after we discussed my issues and did not report the band running too small.  As a result, I am unsure if I received a one-off problem bra (it happens) or if the entire style is inconsistent.  Read more ›

Original Tutti Rouge Liliana in UK 30HH for comparison

Original Tutti Rouge Liliana in UK 30HH for comparison

Despite an overly tight band, the HH cup fit perfectly without any gaping or overflow.  The center gore on Liliana is not overly high which avoids pressing uncomfortably into my tissue, but the shape is wide and shallow, causing my breasts to splay more toward the side.  The underwire shape extends too far on my back and leaves space between the underwire and breast tissue along the entire bottom and side of the cup.  In fact, the cup extends so far onto the side that it actually functions as part of the band by wrapping around my body rather than shaping tissue.  A taller cup shape on the side digs painfully into my arm as well, and while the rest of the bra feels comfortable even with the fit quibbles, this is my personal deal breaker.  When a bra feels like this, it almost always welts me by the end of the day, and I know now to avoid it or suffer the consequences.  Does the shape I described sound familiar, long-time readers?  It reminds me of the early Curvy Kate bras.  I experienced every single one of these problems with Curvy Kate at one point or another, and I think Tutti Rouge has unfortunately fallen into the trap with GG+ cup sizes.  On the positive side, if you find Curvy Kate or wide/shallow designs work for you, definitely consider Liliana.  The profile is also one of the most minimized I have ever tried, most likely because of the wider shape, and I know not every woman in the fuller-bust market wants the rounded, forward shape I mention in my reviews.

Liliana Original Side Profile

Liliana Original Side Profile


Note: This bra is technically only one cup size larger than the hot pink bra above, but the height on the side is higher here.

Now, I know the preceding paragraph seems a little harsh, but I don’t think Liliana is a bad bra.  In fact, I think women in DD-FF cup sizes may find something to like here because the design becomes lower coverage in smaller cups, and gentle lift would really suit certain breast types, especially shallow ones.  Liliana is also available up to a 44 back (which is totally awesome!), and I think some women in those 38+ backs would be comfortable with the width of the wires and appreciate the way they encapsulate side breast tissue.


Materials & Design:  Initially, Tutti Rouge was considered a lower cost alternative to Freya, but recent increases mean the Liliana has a stateside MSRP of $65, begging the question of whether the quality matches the price.  From the brief time I examined the bra and shot the video/pictures, the quality did seem on par with Freya and better than the original bra I was sent in 2013.  The padding in the lower cup is soft and pliable, and the wings are quite firm to prevent too much stretching.  The straps are fully-adjustable, and the upper embroidered cup is not flimsy or prone to tearing.  I love the use of a half-padded cup with a fabric upper cup, particularly because I think the fuller-bust market could benefit from something different. From a design perspective, I have loved Liliana from the start.  For my retest, I opted for the noir/sugar combination, and I love the hot pink underneath the patterned sheer lace.  The use of pink ribbon on the top really pops and keeps the design feeling cohesive, and I have always admired Tutti Rouge’s use of final flourishes like embellished straps, bows on the cups, and heart-shaped adjusters in the back.  The bra was gorgeous back when it first released and carries for the tradition now.


Final Thoughts:  For small bands/large cups, I recommend proceeding with caution here, but I think people with shallower or wider tissue, especially in smaller cups or larger bands, may find something to like here.



Posted in Product Reviews, Recommendations Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

Musings on Blogging and “Professionalism”

Hello Everyone,

Fair warning:  Today’s post is a meandering exposition on my blogging journey over the last several years and is devoid of any sizing advice, product reviews, store news, or other relevant information, which is exactly what I want.  Tune in next time for a Tutti Rouge review though.

Despite writing enough blog posts to fill several books in the last four years, I struggled intensely the first year to find both my voice as a writer and the direction the blog should pursue.   My prior experience in writing centered on academic papers, copy writing for businesses, or my own fictional stories, novels, and poems.  A blog was foreign territory for my skills and made all the more challenging because I wrestled with two conflicting motivations.  My years of working in technology coupled with the preaching from my business classes about the acceptability of interactions with customers left me purposefully stunting the passion and emotion within my posts.  This hesitation was not made better by reflecting on what my mom, a consummate professional, recommended for inspiring confidence, leadership, and authority.  However, my personality was begging to be included.  I have always been a mix of contradictions in a sense.  When I had my labret pierced (the one on my chin), my mom’s first words upon seeing me were “You’ve committed professional suicide.”  She used that phrase “professional suicide” frequently to summarize unorthodox personal preferences, like visible tattoos, less conservative attire, and of course, facial piercings.  I have always found it interesting how professionalism in certain industries requires a divestment from the self, how we must repress who we are to represent a company image or to project an air of trustworthiness and intelligence to clients.

Click to enlarge for easier reading

Click to enlarge for easier reading

With the my blog, I worried if I allowed too much of my “self” to be in the writing that readers would see me as less experienced and thus devalue the services and advice I offered.  Even in the shop I encountered issues with discriminating customers.  When we first opened, I was 25—an age sometimes and unfortunately associated with people who lack ambition and real life skills, and some women felt (and still feel) my age prevents me from understanding their problems.  Factor in my piercings, visible tattoos, and ever-changing hair colors, and I know I sometimes cross the line of what my mom and other business owners would considerable acceptable.  Read more ›

However, my mom also instilled in me the courage to be myself, and I realized later in life that she probably struggled as much as I do with the conflicts between her identity and the characteristics required by professionalism.  For all the grief she gave me about my ankle tattoo, she had one on each side (plus two on her chest).  In the end, I believe people can innately sense if you are a genuine person or a fake, and I would rather you dislike the real me than for me to present a facade in the hopes of gaining a sale.  When I work with a client, my goal is to make them feel comfortable with me and with the fitting process because shortly after meeting me, they strip down to their bras.  While most don’t mind, there are others who want to feel comfortable that a stranger is going to see them in a state of undress reserved for a select few.  I also am privy to the numerous flaws they see in themselves, and most assume I am in there to judge their bras or their bodies.  It’s important for me to show them that I am a regular average woman interested in helping them find a bra—not some stuffy expert making them feel more self-conscious.  In the store, I managed to quickly find my own pace, and I left behind any inclination to transform into a more socially acceptable version of professionalism.  After all, what’s the point of being your own boss and dealing with the copious headaches which ensue if you can’t at least enjoy being yourself?

My mom and source of wisdom and advice

My mom and source of wisdom and advice

With the blog, it took me longer to find out who I was and where I wanted to go.  I focused on putting together often-maligned “wish lists” or “best of” posts all of which marketed the store’s inventory.  Every time we received a new arrival, I posted, and I wrote informative articles based on questions I saw in the shop.  Basically, I did what a lot of businesses at the time were doing:  I used the blog as a marketing tool.  Even the articles about fit problems were intended more to prove we are worth visiting than to be an educational tool.  Being conventional rarely works for me, and the writing from the early months was never something of which I was especially proud.  The blog felt like a sales gimmick instead of an actual worthwhile place to sit and read.

At the time, Georgina Horne of Fuller Figure Fuller Bust and Cheryl Warner of Invest in Your Chest were bringing bra blogging into the forefront while Cora of The Lingerie Addict was building a dedicated following for being the premier place to discuss a variety of lingerie-related topics.  It was an interesting time to be blogging as a store owner, and I started to dabble in my own reviews, mostly in a sister size as a way to showcase some of the products but also to open the discussion about who the bra fit and why.  The first few times I took pictures in my bra were a bit nerve-wracking, and I more than once agonized over the decision, again fretting over what the “code of professionalism” would say about a store owner posting pictures of herself in a bra.  Ultimately, I had one of those “life’s short and haters gonna hate” moments and went for it.  I find it so much easier to see fit issues when the bra is modeled by a regular person not exploiting Photoshop or makeup tricks, and I thought our readers would feel similarly.  Of course, one day I would love to participate in a professional photo shoot for a review or for several pieces, but that’s a long way off in the distant future.

One of my earliest blog reviews in the Fantasie Vivienne

One of my earliest blog reviews in the Fantasie Vivienne

With picture reviews under my belt, I moved onto video reviews.  People were posting all kinds of information to Youtube, and I anticipated many potential fans would be more inclined to listen than read.  Those first videos were incredibly difficult to shoot.  I may seem calm, professional, and articulate, but I am really more of a tongue-tied mess being overly critical of her body, her voice, and her word choice to the point of copious swearing.  There was a blooper real at one point worthy of serious R rating, but with time, I got better and more confident.  The process will never be easy, but my expletive usage has certainly dropped.

Soon after starting the videos, I realized I wanted to associate more personally with the blog in the same way I did when interacting with customers.  I wanted to be more than someone marketing to my readers and instead open a dialog with them, hear their concerns and do my best to address them.  I didn’t want to be a “bra fitter” or “co-owner” or some personality-less source of authority.  A customer told me the other day that she loved the videos and blogs because it was an “authentic” way to connect with people, and I can’t think of a better way to describe my vague initial intentions.  I wanted to be myself, and sometimes being true to yourself isn’t about doing what’s expected of you.  It’s about doing what you feel.

One of my earlier videos lasting 3min 47seconds which took somewhere in the ballpark of 20 minutes to film in between my cursing, inability to speak articulately, and heavy sighing.


I started testing the waters with posts on body image and offering retailer’s perspectives on topics most people do not realize or understand.  I shared my personal struggles with PCOS, weight gain, and depression, and with each post, I heard the disapproving voice criticizing my behavior as unprofessional.  “No one wants to hear about this.  Just do another bra review.”  To my surprise, the posts resonated with readers, and they have become some of our more popular ones.  When I opened up about my issues with chronic illness and the anxiety and depression which ensued, I knew I wanted to write about it—despite the considerable challenge—because I have a broader audience now.  I wrote it for the people who are suffering and who feel alone like I did and still do sometimes.  I wrote about it for people to understand it’s normal to experience these emotions and setbacks, and more importantly, that life can and will get better.

I have heard from other retailers about my blog as well.  Some of them are supportive and love the posts (especially the preview posts . . . which I promise I am going to work on but you guys don’t know how tedious they are!), but I had a couple others say they did not approve of what I wrote or did.  They did not appreciate my discussion of retail ownership and were horrified at the idea of a business owner posing in her bra for a video.  In the lingerie industry where we promote the acceptability of lingerie and tackle interesting social issues related to feminism and a woman’s agency over her body, I wonder why there would be judgment over my decision to do what I ask countless people to do:  Let a stranger see them in their bra.  I’ve seen several store owners pose with models wearing bras and dissecting the fit.  Does a top really lend that much more authority?

Throughout my life, I have always had more friends who were older than me than younger (maybe I’m an old soul?), and they all used to say that as you get older, you’ll care less about what people think.  I couldn’t fathom that in my early 20s, but now that I am approaching 30, I unconsciously have gravitated more toward this mentality both with the blog and with my life.  My blog isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay.  There are a lot of them out there to read and learn from, but I realized what was most important to me was to present myself as I am to my readers and audience.  For me, blending the professional and the personal feels the most natural, and I look forward to writing many more posts in the future.  Thanks for continuing to support the shop and the blog everyone!  It truly means more than words can do justice.


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Short Review: Curvy Couture Sensation Strapless

Hello Everyone,

Today I am concluding unofficial “Curvy Couture Week” on the blog with a review of the Sensation Strapless.  For more information on the brand, be sure to read through my reviews of the Lace Shine T-Shirt Bra and the Luxe Wireless Bra too.  Confession time:  I do not own nor have I ever owned a strapless bra.  When I had the inclination to wear something strapless, my boobage was smaller, firmer, and naturally perkier, so I just skipped wearing a bra at all.  Now that I am approaching 30 this year, I am not a fan of anything strapless, and so the desire to own a convertible bra never surfaced.  However, my customers requested more strapless bra options, especially for the 38+ band size range.


Curvy Couture Sensation Strapless; UK 34-44 C-G

In full disclosure, I think one of the best strapless bras on the market is the Wacoal Red Carpet Strapless, and early reviews/trials of the Curvy Kate Luxe have been exceptionally positive too.  However, both bras only lightly cover plus-sizes, leaving many women settling for the serviceable but not exceptional Elomi Smoothing Strapless bra, and I came into the review hoping Curvy Couture would provide a worthy alternative.


Sizing & Fit:  As with my other forays in to Curvy Couture, I opted for a not-quite-sister-size of UK 34G (Curvy Couture Size 34H) to my usual UK 30HH.  With Lace Shine, the 34 was equivalent to a true 34 while the Luxe was more of a firm 32, but in both, the cup size was about a size small.  The Sensation Strapless is also a cup size small but extremely tight in the band.  For the photos, I am wearing the bra on the loosest set of hooks, and the stretched band only measures 31″.  Having worked in the lingerie industry for several years now, I am willing to acknowledge the possibility of a one-off with sizing, and if you have tried the bra already, I’d love to hear a second opinion.  For now, I am going to tentatively say the strapless bra runs about two sizes small in the band but true-to-size in the cup.  Read more ›

Note the spillage from the cup size issue.

Note the spillage from the cup size issue.

Since I am not the target Curvy Couture customer, I expected shape-related fit problems with all of the bras, and with the strapless bra, the design is too wide and shallow for me.  The center gore soft tacks, and the shallow center cup pushes breast tissue toward the side.  My breasts are very close set with little side tissue, and even in companies who make my size, I often have issues with wires and shallowness.  Curvy Couture is surprisingly better than most, and I feel like the issues I have will be minimized for 36+ bands.  Even with the classic east-west problem, the shape itself is rounded and flattering under tops.


Materials & Design:  One of the reasons for the success of the Wacoal Red Carpet Strapless is the borderline excessive use of silicone gel at the top of the cup and wings in addition to multiple side stays both of which add to the security of the design.  The Sensation Strapless utilizes the same technique with a lower coverage, sweetheart neckline particularly appropriate for today’s tricky formal wear.  People with silicone allergies beware!  Normally, “utilitarian” is the name of the game for strapless bras, but Sensation features a smooth, flat lace on the plush molded cup for thoughtful touch.  Bridal customers needing practicality will appreciate how functionality blends with prettiness to create a  . . . wait for it . . . sensational design!


Did I mention there are lots of ways to wear it?  Most strapless bras have only four area to reattach straps (one per cup and one per wing) with some options going as high as eight (two per cup and two per wing).  Sensation falls into the latter camp and can be worn seven different ways for maximum versatility under tops and dresses.  On the cups, one area to reattach the straps is at the traditional spot toward the outer edge of the cup but the other is near the center.  The bra also comes complete with a pair of solid color straps and a pair of clear straps.


The important litmus test for a strapless bra isn’t whether it is smooth or pretty or has lots of ways to customize it however.  It’s whether the bra will stay put when you move.  As a result, I may or may not have purposefully been jumping up and down in my bra in front of the mirror looking for it to move or for boobage to bounce its way out of the cup.  Nothing happened whatsoever.  I bent over and shimmied.  I wiggled.  In fact, I did everything humanly possible to make that bra move, and it did not.  I’m not going to lie.  It was a fight to get that beast into place because of all the gel, but once the bra is on, it is friggin’ ON!


Final Thoughts:  Overall, I am really impressed with the bra.  I think ladies who are closer set should skip this one, but ladies with average to wider roots could certainly benefit from the bra.  I also think the shape and fit is superior to Elomi’s version and also lower coverage too.

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Short Review: Curvy Couture Luxe Wireless Bra

Hello Everyone,

After reviewing the Lace Shine T-Shirt bra from Curvy Couture, I want to switch topics and discuss t-shirt bras for wireless customers.  Finding a well-fitting, supportive bra for a customer without an underwire can be challenging, particularly because underwire provides better lift and shaping; however, the marketplace itself is also shamefully under-served, especially in the fuller-bust segment.  Often the bras with the best lift, shape, and support utilize seaming and lace to compensate for the lack of a wire—a technique with a good success rate, but in the land of the almighty t-shirt, the indiscreet seaming or patterned cup sinks the entire design.  Lately, we have been exploring t-shirt friendly wireless bras for customers, including the fantastic Wacoal How Perfect, but the size ranges are more limited.  When I saw the Luxe Wireless was available in 34-44 bands and UK C-G cups, I crossed fingers and toes it would be a viable alternative to traditional cut-and-sew wireless pieces if nothing else for days when customers wear something thinner.


Sizing & Fit:  As with the Lace Shine, I ordered the UK 34G (Curvy Couture 34H) size. The band is slightly loose on the tightest set of hooks but still firmer than the Lace shine.  Since the bra is not an exact sister size, the cup is about a size small.  Wireless bras do give you more leeway with sizing, but if I were to order the Luxe in my correct size, I would need a 30HH with an extender or a 32H.  For lounging, the UK 34G works fine.  Read more ›


Analyzing the fit of a wireless bra can be tricky, especially in higher cup sizes, because there often isn’t any tacking.  From a fit perspective, I think the bra gives good forward projection and nice lift, but the shape is definitely more minimized.  Because this is a fabric, wireless bra, I wasn’t expecting the same rounded shape of my Comexim pieces, and I think for customers more interested in comfort and hold, the Luxe will work well.  I should have taken a picture under a t-shirt before I sent them back because the shape was more flattering under clothing (not as much as my underwire ones of course).  The wide back and sides disperse the weight of the bust as well as provide all around smoothing, and slightly inset straps prevent slippage for narrow or sloped shoulders.  What I really love about this bra though is the exceptional comfort.  I already plan on purchasing a Luxe Wireless as a lounge/weekend bra because the fabrics and fit are more comfortable than anything else I own right now.  Luxe would be ideal for sleeping too. 

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Short Review: Curvy Couture Lace Shine T-Shirt Bra

Hello Everyone,

When I review a product, “short” is not a word I would use to describe the post.  My goal with reviews is to provide the kind of detailed information I prefer to read when doing my own research, and as a result, I comment (excessively) on fit, sizing, materials, and the design to give an accurate representation of the product.  Furthermore, I also review bras in my starting point size or sometimes the size I found which works best to prove the problems/benefits will not change with a new size.  This week, we are tweaking the formula for a special brand:  Curvy Couture.  The expression “In with the new, out with the old” has become the mantra for some of our brand recently, and several bras favored by my 34+ band size customers are being discontinued ranging from the incredible N by Natori Conceal Contour to the Elomi Rita and Caitlyn bras, leaving me scrambling to find ways of satisfying customers with a new style.  Cut-and-sew cups are easier, but t-shirt bras? Ouch!  At the moment, quality t-shirt bras in 38+ band and DDD+ cup sizes are lacking, and we rely on the Elomi Bijou and Amelia (both of which are fabulous) as well as the occasional Wacoal or Natori.  We’re in the south though.  It’s hot.  People live in t-shirt, so we needed to find some more options!


Curvy Couture Lace Shine T-Shirt Bra, UK 34G/Curvy Couture Size 34H

As a result, I have spent considerable time researching alternatives to expand the inventory in the shop, and a friend who owns a boutique in Hawaii kindly forwarded me the information for Curvy Couture, an American brand offering 34-44 band sizes UK C-G cups (Note: They use a variation of American sizing ending in H cups, but it’s really closer to a US I/UK G).  Based on the needs of customers, three styles intrigued me:  the Lace Shine T-Shirt bra, the Luxe Wireless, and the Sensation Strapless.  Since these bras are not available in my size, I ordered a semi-sister size of UK 34G to test the quality and determine whether they were worth recommending.  Today, I will be analyzing the Lace Shine with short reviews of the Luxe Wireless and Sensation Strapless coming this week.


Sizing & Fit:  I do not like molded cup bras.  After years of wearing some variation of them out of necessity, I began exclusively working with cut-and-sew cups, padded and non-padded alike, when we opened the shop, and I never regretted it.  I also wear a UK 30HH/Comexim 32HH at the moment, so a UK 34G is not an exact sister size either.  Bearing this in mind, I was exceptionally impressed by the fit and shape of Lace Shine.  The band is on the tightest hooks and is still loose, and the cups have overflow if I fully scoop, both of which lead me to believe the bra runs true-to-size.  I estimate I would need the bra in a UK 30HH.  Read more ›


The shape and appearance is reminiscent of the Panache Porcelain Lace, but Lace Shine boasts a superior fit:

Panache Porcelain Lace UK 34G (Size at time 30H)

Panache Porcelain Lace UK 34G (Size at time 30H).  Note the issues with shallowness at the center and bottom.

The underwire shape and gore are what I call “crowd pleaser” width, meaning it is average enough to encompass a spectrum of breast widths and shapes without causing excessive problems.  This width usually falls apart in higher cup sizes, especially with smaller bands, but given that the line focuses on 34+ band sizes and C-G cups, I think the shape will work nicely for many customers in the range.  The underwires at the center and side also aren’t overly tall so as to clip the arm or poke into tissue, and the sweetheart neckline provides moderate coverage. I get a smidgen of extra space on the bottom toward the side as well as between the underwire and breast tissue—an expected fit issue given the size.  For the average UK 34G person, I think the style has potential, and I was shocked by how much lift the bra provided as well as the rounded shape.  In the Porcelain Lace, the bottom was way too shallow which pushed the underwire down, but the Lace Shine has enough space to sit properly.


Materials & Design:  The materials are excellent quality, and in my opinion, exceed the $56 retail price.  The foam cup is soft and flexible but still thick enough to provide nipple protection for those who want/need it, and the fabric covering the cup has this dreamily smooth, practically frictionless feel.  Moreover, lace covered powernet wings feel comparable in stretch to Elomi and Natori and provide superb smoothing and support.  While I would prefer a fully-adjustable strap, they were not super stretchy or long either.  Appearance-wise, Lace Shine falls into the “Basic with a Twist” category, and to be fair, doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel.  We see smooth t-shirt bras with lace wings all the time, but given how little you can do with a true t-shirt bra, I don’t consider it a negative.  The adorable keyhole cutout at the center gore was a nice touch, and I like the turquoise.  The bra is also available in basic beige and black plus a cinnamon color for darker skin tones.

Lace_Shine_2 Lace_Shine_3 Lace_Shine_1

Final Thoughts:  I told you I don’t like molded cup bras, but Lace Shine was surprisingly comfortable between the moderate side height and soft fabrics.  If they made this in my size I would certainly consider it!


P.S.  This review counts as “short” because it’s under a 1000 words.  :)

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Product Review: Anna Pardal Beatrix + Alterations

Hello Everyone,

It’s no secret here.  Anna Pardal and Comexim design and manufacturer my favorite bras, but more than that, they are a vendor I can proudly support and recommend because of their commitment to quality and service.  Both brands cater to people needing narrow, lower underwires with deep, projected cups, and as a woman with close set breasts and little side tissue, their designs offer me comfort, support, and an array of beautiful patterns and prints to accommodate my ever-changing lingerie cravings.  Furthermore, to better cater to the unique fit problems experienced by their customers, both brands also offer copious alterations at the nominal fee of $5—an unheard of service in the fuller-bust market.  At the time of writing, both companies offer two lightly padded cup shapes: a classic three-section plunge and a vertically seamed half-cup.  All of my reviews so far have focused on the original classic plunge, which works well for my shape even with the occasional fit quibble.  In a couple weeks, I will review the new half-cup longline shape too.  Given how well the classic shape worked, I was excited and skeptical when Anna Pardal offered to send me two bras each with a requested combination of alterations.  I already reviewed the Felicity which sported a reduced cup, reduced gore, and the straps moved inward by 2cm, and today I am discussing the new Beatrix with a raised gore and arm alteration performed.

If you have not read any of my original reviews or seen the lengthy post I wrote on the alterations process for Anna Pardal and Comexim, I highly encourage you to revisit those as they will provide better context for my analysis here.

Sizing & Fit:  All of my Anna Pardal and Comexim bras are size 32HH (70L in their original sizing), which is one cup size and one band size up from what I usually take in UK brands.  Even with alterations, the sizing was consistent for me.  Given the raised gore and arm area, this version of Beatrix offers more coverage than what I have come to expect from Comexim.  When I tested Felicity, I fell in love with both the reduced cup and the inward straps so much I will only order bras in the future with those alterations as part of the design.  Two simple tweaks improved an already fantastic design and transformed it into a bra bordering on true perfection for me.  As a result, since Beatrix lacks those alterations, I knew some of the fit quibbles from the classic design would resurface, including gaping near the straps.


Read more ›

However, the raised gore was a pleasant surprise for me.  Apparently, I am a lucky person who can wear any of the Comexim and Anna Pardal gore heights comfortably without any significant issues, and in the future, I would love to have another bra with a raised gore and reduced cup.  On days when I am running around the shop, bending over constantly, and generally frazzled to the point of forgetting people’s names, a higher gore would mean one less thing on my mind.  The center tissue is better contained after significant movement than the classic or reduced gore heights.  Keep in mind that I sometimes prepare for busy days by wearing my Panache sports bra, so if you have a sedentary job, the original or reduced gore height should not be a problem.


However, the bra does soft tack at the top.  The bottom of the underwire tacks firmly but comfortably, which is not unexpected given how Felicity with its lowered gore offered the best tack of any Anna Pardal or Comexim, but the top of the gore is softer.  Soft tacking is by no means a deal-breaker for me.  My breasts are close enough together that there is some tissue on my sternum, making the area more sensitive.  A soft tack is far more comfortable than one pressing hard into the area.  Having explained my preferences, I do think if Comexim and Anna Pardal want to explore a raised gore in higher cup sizes, a heavier underwire may be needed.  In fact, the tacking issues combined with a tall cup height seem to be the biggest obstacles in the higher sizes, and I hope they examine the feedback here and from customers for future designs.


In addition to the raised gore, my version of Beatrix has a raised arm which adds extra material to the side of the cup for more tissue.  Anna Pardal suggested incorporating this into the classic shape for 38+ bands, and the responses were mixed.  On the one hand, the raised arm is not incredibly high, and it does provide extra coverage to the side, making the design more accessible to customers with more side tissue than the average Anna Pardal/Comexim customer or who have looser tissue or skin on the side.  We heard complaints from both customers about the height of the arm region even if the rest of the design fit well.  For me, the bra still feels comfortable, but I did encounter an adjustment period because the height is higher than I have grown accustom to over the last year.  For women who are petite, short-waisted, or have very high set breasts, the change could be a problem, even in the 38+ bands though.


Materials & Design:  Another design from Anna Pardal’s 2015 Collection, Beatrix sports a light beige base cup with a sheer black fabric overlaid to create depth and texture.  With polka dots strung along pinstripes like pearls and an over-sized black and beige contrasting bow at the center, Beatrix proves to be another lovely entry into the neutral palette.  What impresses me more is how Beatrix channels a more minimalistic design without any overly feminine details like floral blooms or embroidered lace, and the polka dots with pinstripes combine two traditional prints in a fresh, modernized way.  Quality is as you would expect from Anna Pardal by now with top notch laces, soft padding, heavy fully-adjustable straps, and three hook-and-eye closures in the back.  The wings are firmer to prevent stretching over time, and the bra upholds the same level of craftsmanship as any of the others I tried. Beatrix is my second favorite design after FiFi, but I am excited to try Hibiscus next.  Also, the name reminds me of Beatrix Kiddo, which should entitle it to bonus points . . . and a Hatori Hanso sword.

Overall Grade: A

Posted in Product Reviews, Recommendations Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Retailer’s Perspective: The Ordering Process aka “What Can Go Wrong Will”

Hello Everyone,

In a previous Retailer’s Perspective post, I wrote about the viability of special order programs for boutiques and focused on how customer pick-up times and behaviors influence store policy, but I neglected to discuss another important factor in offering special orders:  manufacturer lead times.   A manufacturer’s policies and reputation impact which brands a store will work with and whether special orders are feasible.  As a result, today, I want to walk you through the seemingly straightforward process of placing purchase orders and discuss how and why problems arise.

Special orders starts with a common scenario:  An individual either physically visits the shops or consults via email and decides to order something we do not have in stock.  The person’s name, contact information, and order are then written in my mostly legible hand-writing on a sheet like this:


At this point, the easiest part of the entire process is over, and I am now responsible for obtaining the item(s) requested by the customer.  In a perfect world, all of our vendors would implement a back-end software system where retailers could place orders the same day and receive both a confirmation email and shipping information which includes tracking.  Within a couple of days, the item would arrive at the shop and be ready for its new home with the customer.  As all adults know by now, the real world and the perfect world rarely intersect.  Read more ›

The Art of the Meeting Your Minimum

Most lingerie companies require all orders meet a minimum amount to decrease expenses for them, the warehouse, and the retailers.  Some minimums are low, such as six units, but others are upwards of $250.  A few manufacturers will relax their minimums for a fee, usually in the ballpark of $25.  Even if a company allows you to order a single item, often referred to as one-off ordering, a minimum shipping charge will apply and ranges from $7 to as high as $30.  On a small order, the final cost to the retailer of each item will be much higher because shipping costs cannot be absorbed across multiple products, thus creating a lower overall profit margin.  For some companies, reaching the minimum is never a problem because our turnover rate for the manufacturer is high.  Since Eveden sells Freya, Fantasie, Elomi, and Goddess which covers a huge expanse of sizes and styles, we often order from them weekly.  Other manufacturers, especially those offering specialty products like hosiery, shapewear, or lingerie, can take as long as eight weeks to reach the minimum order point.  When an individual wishes to order from one of these companies, we alert him or her to the time frame, or depending on the situation, order excess inventory to allow for the special order.  Interestingly enough, middle-ground companies which sell well but not consistently create more issues because we could hit our minimum in a week or it may take as much as three.


One of the safest ways to meet a minimum in a pinch is to pull from items on your buying agenda, such as more sizes in an existing style, a new colorway, or even a soft trial of something new.  However, it’s hard to gauge when to place these orders and when to wait out sales, especially because we can only order above what we need so often without running into cash flow issues.  As a result, customers are typically called or email to let them know about delays.  A corollary complication to meeting minimum order requirements is when a customer orders an item immediately after an order has been placed.  Some companies can add items up to 24 hours later, but in other cases, that item is tacked onto the next order instead.

Writing & Submitting an Order

One of the joys (or curses) of business ownership is the need to handle multiple responsibilities, ranging in nature from generating marketing ideas to balancing the checkbook.  This quote sums up my view on said responsibilities perfectly:  “Details, details. Things to do. Things to get done. Don’t bother me with details, just tell me when they’re done.”  (Bonus points for knowing the reference).  I love running a business.  I love writing blogs.  I love doing bra fittings.  I also love planning purchases, researching bras, networking for the shop, decorating, and organizing.  Tedious detail-oriented work?  I do it, but I don’t love it.  Writing successful purchase orders—a pivotal component of any retail business—involves meticulous attention to detail.  Everything you and your customers need must be included with nothing left out, and every model number, color code, and size has to be precise and correct.  There have been times I rushed through assembling an order and wrote 8720 when I needed an 8740, even though the name of the style I wanted was correct, and I received the 8720s.  Some reps note the disparity and email me to confirm what I want.  General customer service, on the other hand, looks at the model number only and proceeds from there.  Even colors are not straightforward and require the exact written code.  Consequently, I may know what I need, but translating those needs to an Excel spreadsheet is mind-numbingly tedious for me.

Even the dogs get bored when I try to write purchase orders.

Even the dogs get bored when I try to write purchase orders.

Once the order is checked and rechecked against special orders sheets and sales, I email it either to a sales rep I work with directly or to the more general customer service.  Sales reps often note when items are back-ordered and provide exact dates for when they will be in stock.  Customer service may not.  On more than a dozen occasions, I did not know an item was back-ordered until my shipment arrived missing pieces.  At this point, I request an open orders report to see why items were not included, and even then, the answers can be vague.  Open orders reports are also essential to managing inventory.  Not only can they make sure all of your information was entered accurately, but they will also show you what items are missing from the system entirely.

A missing item creates enough headaches, but there’s also the opportunity for a larger problem, such as entire purchase order never making it into the system.  The email was missed, someone forgot to input it, etc.  Meanwhile, because not all companies offer you shipping information, you wait the appropriate amount of time for the order to arrive and nothing shows up.  A quick call to customer service yields a polite “I don’t see that order in our system,” leaving you behind on the time frame you gave customers.  The delay can also create long range problems, such as an item that was in stock at the original time of order is now unavailable for several months.  The 5th Rule of Retail Ownership dictates that these items are almost always paid for in advance by the customer or are time sensitive.


Given my disdain for writing POs and the issues surrounding them, Cake Lingerie deserves serious praise.  Cake managed to accomplish something amazing in business:  They did something that makes total sense.  Hold onto your socks people:  Cake has a back-end system where you can select items to order like you would on a retailer’s website.  There are pictures and colors and sizes and prices and all manners of easiness.  Stuff that is out of stock is clearly marked with a date on when it will be back.  You can verify the order you submit, they send an email confirmation, AND they let you know when it ships by providing  a tracking number.  Mind blown!  In all fairness, as a computer programer, I know these systems costs serious money too, especially to be reliable and easy-to-navigate, but given some of the problems I and other retailers have had with other, much larger companies than Cake, you’d think they would invest here.

What Happens (or Doesn’t Happen) After Placing an Order

Ideally, once the order is entered (in completeness with no back-ordered items) into the system, it is sent to the warehouse for pick, and the warehouse then sends your merchandise to you.  In reality, there is credit hold.  Credit hold is exactly what it sounds like:  The manufacturer has cut you off because you’re either behind on payments or the current order takes you over a predefined limit.  Sometimes, this is your fault.  You have a bill you didn’t pay, or you ordered too much for your credit line.  Other times, it’s the company’s fault.  When you have a terms agreement with a vendor, you typically have a certain amount of time to pay for invoices, sometimes a shorter time if you want a small discount.  Typically, a credit card is maintained on file for your account, and payment is authorized for the invoices due.  However, there instances where this doesn’t happen because:

  • The account specialist does not receive your email or message authorizing payment.
  • The payment authorized is applied to the newest invoices instead of the oldest, which are due.
  • The payment is charged to your credit card but not actually applied to the account.
  • The payment is credited to another account not belonging to you.

I know what you’re wondering, and I’ll answer it honestly.  All of these instances have happened to us, and once the account is deemed on credit hold, getting out tacks on additional time.  Someone needs to audit the account to see what happened, and once the problem is corrected in finance, a message must be sent to customer service to release the hold.  In a best case scenario, this takes two days, but it can take as much as a week.

Other Things That Can (and Will) Go Wrong

  • The Weather:  Most of the warehouse for the companies we stock are located in New England, and when they have a brutal winter (as happens pretty often up there), shipments are delayed.  One year, a supplier had significant inventory damage which took months to recover.
  • Trade Shows:  Twice a year, the Curves Expo is held in New York and Las Vegas, and Curves is arguably the largest premier trade show for lingerie, sleepwear, and bras in the US.  Buyers across the nation have the opportunity to preview coming seasons and take advantage of trade show discounts on orders.  Because so many orders are placed during those months, customer service and processing times frequently slow down, and it’s more likely problems will pop up with your account.
  • Warehouse Shut Down:  Sometimes the warehouses are shut down for inventory counting while other times it is holiday related.  For example, Panache recently shut down the warehouse for end of year inventory, and it will not reopen until June 11th.  December holidays are another problem.  Many warehouses will shut down sometime before Christmas without reopening until after New Year’s.
  • Delayed Release:  Certain fashion styles have their expected ship dates pushed back while others may fall victim to quality issues and need to be recalled.  This becomes more of a problem for customers taking advantage of pre-ordering.
  • Customs:  Not all of our inventory is kept in a state-side warehouse, and customs processing time can delay shipments coming from the UK or Poland by a couple weeks.

College computer networking classes love to compare the way Internet works to the postal service, and after studying networking and working as a contractor for the post-office, I thought it was a miracle anything made it to where it needed to be.  Now, after having owned a retail store for several years, I am lumping purchase orders in with the Internet.  Most retailers are not trying to cause issues for customers and will go above and beyond when needed, sometimes buying products off other retailers and losing their profit margin.  Sometimes we are just at the mercy of our manufacturers, who themselves are at the mercy of other outside factors too.



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