If you follow the blog, you may recall a certain heartfelt post I wrote about how depressed I was and how people, some of whom I never met, came together to lift my spirits and restore my faith in the world around me. It was poignant for me to write, and I loved every word of it. And then, freakin’ Lunar Pages upgraded my server without telling me or doing a proper back-up and lost TWO WEEKS worth of comments and posts, including the aforementioned one. So, those gratitude filled words now reside in the ether of the universe but not on the blog. Since I’m not in the same place emotionally as when I wrote them, I am not going to recreate the post. Instead, we’ll do the TL;DR thing and say: I was sad. You guys made me happy. Thank you!
With the general band and cup size sales for the store reviewed, analyzing the specifics of the best-selling bra sizes often confirms trends I already observed and aids in finding which core sizes deserve not only more available styles but also multiple units to prevent stock outtages and minimize reliance on special orders. However, in keeping with my desire to streamline the series this year, I eschewed my standard assemblage of bar charts with the cup size distribution for each band in favor of a single line graph showcasing the sales for all of the bands together. The simplicity of the unifying graphs allows you to see how each of the bands differs from the others in what cup sizes perform best as well as showcases the data lines contributing the classic Bell Curve created by cup size sales. (Note: For clarity and ease, I strictly utilized the UK sizing system and only focused on 28-46 bands.)
Hello and welcome back to our annual statistics series! . . . Or as I am tempted to call it “the blog post I keep trying to write but am always interrupted before I can finish!” Ordinarily, I break this discussion into two separate posts, one for the band sizes and one for the cup sizes. However, this year, in the interest of changing things up and including other elements into the statistical analysis, I have combined them into a unified post. Knowing which band and cup sizes generally sell best aids in selecting the overall range to focus new inventory (such as 30-40 DD-G), but analyzing the actual best-selling bra sizes assists in fine tuning that selection as well as knowing what sizes deserve multiples. So let’s get to it!
Our annual statistical series, which originated when store-related activities occupied a significantly smaller portion of my time, transformed over the years into a process I both love and loathe—love for the satisfaction it affords my inner math geek and analytical personality type who genuinely enjoys pouring through data and abstracting patterns and loathe for the overworked business owner who has to find time for sifting through large quantities of figures. Nevertheless, to even be celebrating five years of business, no matter how much time it tacks onto the analysis, is something of a mini-miracle for our small but ambitious shop. Examining the cumulative data demonstrates how much we have grown, not only in terms of sales figures but also in size and style assortment. Before we delve into the statistics, however, I wanted to make a few preemptive comments in the hopes of lending some perspective to the actual numbers. (Note: If you haven’t already seen our post on the giveaway, do so now as there is still time to enter.)
Kristen Allen contacted me a few months ago about a potential Pop Up Shop at the store for her bust-friendly clothing designs, and I was immediately intrigued by what she hoped to offer customers. Bust-friendly fashion is obviously a subject about which I feel passionately because I have spent the better part of my life struggling to fit into clothing designed for a different body shape than my own. My first properly fitting button-front shirts came from Poland and then Campbell & Kate, and they opened my eyes to not only how sharp a tailored shirt looks but also how confident I felt wearing them. To see another entrepreneur bringing her own perspective to the industry, especially an approach which focuses on Made in the USA products, was fabulous, and I knew immediately I wanted to help however I could. As a result, we’re starting off with an interview where Kristen dishes on her motivations, her mistakes, and how fabulous it is to live in NYC, and then later, I will have a review of one of her classic shirts! Oh, and did I mention that if there is enough interest we’re going to host a Pop Up shop here? If you’re interested in seeing her come to NC, please comment, email, or message me because this is an opportunity I would love to take advantage of for our customers. Stay cool in the heat everyone!
Fussy Busty and I first internet-met a few years ago when she started her fabulous blog, and she has always been a warm, generous person. In fact, we were part of a secret Santa exchange one year, and she knitted me a coffee cup cover with the store’s iconic pears stitched onto them! Recently, she embarked on a new journey in her life as a work-at-home mom and small business owner. Fussy translated her enjoyment for sewing into a custom-clothing business for children and adults, and her adorable daughter is often found modeling the latest designs. Because so many of us struggle to find properly fitted garments, a business which offers the option of purchasing custom-made clothes at an affordable price is one I am keen to support. Not to mention, all of you know by now that I adore family-owned businesses, made in America products, and anybody willing to do something different in the clothing industry. Naturally, I am loving what Fussy is hoping to achieve here, but I especially loved how candidly she spoke about the trials of working from home and raising a child. Oh, and did I mention she made me a dress? A dress that channels my favorite writer even? It’s en transit now, and I’m totally doing this:
In the last five years, I have reviewed over one hundred products on the blog, including bras, undies, dresses, tops, accessories, and even a salad spinner. With our anniversary a few months away, I have become increasingly introspective on the experiences of small business ownership, retail management, and blogging. When I first entertained the idea of writing product reviews on our blog, my intention was to describe the fit and shape of the products we stocked using professional but approachable language. Basically, I thought it would be an inexpensive marketing tool for a cash strapped business desperately trying to keep the doors open. During the summer and fall of 2011 when I began writing, “bra blogging” was taking off in a big way. Cora Harrington had already become a leading expert through her blog The Lingerie Addict, and Georgina Horne of Fuller Figure Fuller Bust, Cheryl of Invest in Your Chest, and Becky of Busts for Justice were not only posting fabulous bra reviews while modelling the products but also wrote insightful commentary on the fuller-bust market and bra fitting in general. Their courage inspired me to begin writing my own reviews and articles. As with any endeavor, I have received both criticism and praise for the blog, and while being somewhat prolific in writing reviews, I realized that I never discussed the process itself, how my motivations have changed over time, and what I hope our readers get out of reading them.
As someone who is still struggling to build my shop, I have adopted a very strong “pay it forward attitude” toward other small businesses, and when my friend Patricia of Bolero put me in touch with P.D. Roche and her brainchild “Hot Women Clothing,” I was not only intrigued by the concept but also wanted to help P.D. gain exposure for her brand. Like many people living in the south, especially those suffering from the dreaded hot flashes, P.D. tried everything to beat the heat but felt the heavy use of synthetic fabrics, particularly in lounge and nightwear, were at odds with keeping her cool. She wanted to upgrade her favorite worn in tee shirt into something just as breathable and relaxed but with a little more color and style. When I spoke with P.D., I thought the products were a natural fit for our store, not only for menopausal women but for anyone needing cotton sleepwear. Furthermore, many of our lounge pieces, even the cotton ones, are only available in Small to X-Large, with a max size range of 0 to 14. Our wonderful inbetweenies and plus-size customers felt neglected, but Hot Women Clothing specifically caters to fuller-figures. Don’t let the use of Medium to X-Large terminology confuse you. All of the Hot Women Clothing pieces are over-sized, meaning her mediums cater to size 12-18 depending on how relaxed you prefer her fit. In fact, the gorgeous zebra robe has a 60″ circumference to accommodate a range of sizes. Finally, Hot Women Clothing is another “Made in the USA” product, and we all know how I feel about that! We are currently stocking an assortment in the shop right now and will be adding them to the online portal soon. All her products are made from 100% cotton (and not that cheap thin stuff you can see through either), and are priced between $52 and $65. Enough of my gabbing, let’s talk with P.D.!
My recent collaboration with Bluestockings Boutique on small business ownership inspired me to explore one of the core elements of our discussion: the price of lingerie and how consumers perceive it. Do a quick search on Google (or your search engine of choice) for core bra styles from major lingerie brands like Panache, Natori, and Affinitas, and you may be surprised at how challenging it is to find discount pricing anymore. If the bra is black, beige, white, or a newly released fashion color, it is probably listed at full price, and if it’s not, wait a few days. Eventually, someone will report the infraction, and the item will quickly return to its original Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price (MSRP). But why have retailers all across the US finally agreed to uphold the same pricing schema despite years of competing for consumer dollars based on low cost? Simple. Manufacturers have grown tired of watching their carefully designed, high quality products be associated with low prices and discounts. Unlike many avenues of retail, intimate apparel remains fairly exempt from what’s known as inflationary pricing—a practice where the retailers and/or manufacturers inflate the price of a product beyond its true worth to allow for constant discounting and price-based competition. As a result, the suggested retail price on most items has been determined by the manufacturer to be a fair evaluation of the design process, fabrics, manufacturing, and associated retail expenses like rent, utilities, and the cost of a professional fitter. In short, there’s no wiggle room for lowering that price and maintaining a successful profit, particularly for boutique retailers. Enter the advent of MAP Agreements.
When I received an email from Anna of Anna Pardal after attending Curves NY for the first and only time in February of 2014, I was giddy with excitement and knew instantly this was a marvelous opportunity for the shop. Over the last two years, I have thoroughly enjoyed working with her personally and professionally even though importing made-to-order products from Poland was not always easy. Anna and I certainly faced numerous challenges in ensuring all of our customers ultimately received the correct item, in the right size, and with the perfect combination of alterations. However, despite the problems, many clients found working with Anna to be a life changing experience. Our guest blogger Trycia was able to request a gorgeous custom Sabine set, including matching panties specifically designed with her needs in mind. Then there is Tami, a woman who suffered long term from chafing by the straps, too tall cups on the side, and a lack of center depth. Anna, Tami, and I collaborated together to engineer pattern changes that yielded a fit so perfect Tami felt like “superwoman.” Tami and Trycia are not alone either. Countless people took advantage of a generous alterations process to find the fit tweaks which worked best for them. Some people, like myself, fell in love with the classic shape immediately because of the low wires and deep cups that were more comfortable than UK brands while still others appreciated the luxurious, sophisticated aesthetic honed by Anna’s keen eye. Despite the lows, our relationship with Anna Pardal is defined more by the highs, which is why I was so saddened (okay, devastated) to hear that Anna was closing the brand for personal reasons. Running a small business is one of the hardest things a person can do in their lifetime, and I am glad she decided to put herself first and find some balance. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing her artistic perspective again in the lingerie world soon, but in the meantime, we wish her nothing but the best!