After I posted about the difficulties we were facing as a business, the rallying cry of support from people whose lives were made better by the shop touched me on such a deep, emotional level that I can only describe it as love. Yes, I truly love all of you who so willingly gave your support, who shared the post, who encouraged others to visit us, who sent me personal words of encouragement and solidarity. You made my life better through your actions, and I have spent the better part of the week crying and smiling while reading everyone’s messages. My takeaway was that I not only made the right decision in fighting to keep the shop afloat, but also that I am very fortunate to be part of such a loving, caring community.
Exciting news about our store!
Today, I am checking my usual humor at the door and ripping down the curtains obscuring the view into the true state of our business: Last month, I planned to shut our doors permanently by the end of December. Usually when I contemplate closing, it’s in the midst of an emotional meltdown, all sobs or screams and half-serious intentions. The toll of small business ownership and a never-ending string of bad luck in the last four years more than once made want to quit and work a corporate job where life may not be better but at least it’d be easier. As the tears dried and my mood stabilized, I’d rush remorsefully back to the shop as if it were a sentient being whose feelings I injured with my idle threats.
Hello Everyone! As of today, A Sophisticated Pair has officially been in business for seven years! Can you believe the incredible journey we’ve experienced? It’s been a hell of a ride! In honor of the milestone, I have several reflective posts planned on how my feelings about my business and bras have changed since opening as well as the resurrection of our statistical analysis series. However, in the meantime, I want to thank everyone for their ongoing support with a giveaway and sale!
First, my original intention with my post in, oh I don’t know, December was to get back on track from the travesty of 2017. I was going to cut out gluten and get my thyroid fixed and exercise and catch up on blogs and get better at bookkeeping and basically DO ALL THE THINGS. Intentions, amirite? On new year’s, I was toasting with family saying “2018 will be better! No more freak spider bites, no more bronchitis! Just getting healthy! RAWR!” And in all fairness to 2018, I have not gotten bronchitis or any insect bites . . . yet. Instead, a persistent cold became a sinus infection the last couple weeks of December that I powered through at the store, which obviously only made it worse. I spent my entire vacation on my couch sipping cough syrup and alternately complaining my house was either too hot or too cold. By mid-January, I could once again breathe through my nose and began work on the numerous projects I hoped to complete in what is traditionally a slower retail month. Success was slow and stressful, but I was starting to feel like maybe, just maybe, I was back in control.
About two years ago, I received an email from Heidi asking for feedback from a retailer’s perspective on edgy, high quality lingerie and its stateside viability. At the time, she was considering starting her own brand, and we chatted about pricing, materials, and competition between manufacturers and their retailers. A few weeks ago, Heidi contacted me again to announce she took the plunge and hoped to use Kickstarter to launch her brand. Keep in mind, I receive a lot of consulting inquiries from people wanting to start retail stores or lingerie brands, and I seldom hear follow-ups. This was one of the rare instances where not only did I hear from Heidi again but she was actually doing what she set out to do. So today we’re picking up the conversation and discussing her new line Pique Lingerie, the struggles of establishing sizing, and the need for inclusivity. Before we get started, I want to mention we do discuss sexual content, kink, and BDSM in the context of Heidi’s lingerie brand just in case it’s not your thing.
As a small business owner, I love when I can spotlight fellow entrepreneurs to highlight the wonderful services and products they bring to our community, and today we’re combining my enthusiasm for shopping local with wine . . . and cheese . . . but mostly wine. A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting Michelle the owner of Cork & Cow, a local wine bar and bistro, and we immediately connected over the shared struggles of owning a business and how a glass of wine in the evening is sometimes an absolute essential. She’s funny, knows her stuff, and owns one of the coolest spots in town. If you’re local or just visiting for some fabulous bras *ahem*, add Cork & Cow to your “must go” list. Did I mention they had wine and that today is a Saturday?
Originally, I planned to update everyone on the outcome of my endocrinology appointment for PCOS several weeks ago, but then the spider bite from hell caused all manner of delays and problems for me. Blogging took a backseat to catching up on the copious amount of backlogged work—an ongoing issue I will address later in the post. Speaking of Fred, after a final draining Tuesday, he looks significantly better and has drastically reduced in size. I think my immune system has officially killed him, so . . . ‘Eff you Fred and the spider you rode in on! Ultimately and perhaps a little paradoxically, I am thankful Fred forced me to ruminate on the results of my appointment. Under pressure, I’m cool as the proverbial cucumber, and when an obstacle arises, my instincts are to dispassionately find the best and quickest solution. In many instances, those are great qualities to have, but being able to compartmentalize emotions is at odds with processing how you really feel. When I first heard I had an auto-immune disorder, I was my typical “Can Do!” self and switched to research mode, selecting the best books from Amazon and developing a plan of action. During the reign of Fred, I couldn’t do anything, and I started to unpack those unhelpful feelings I boxed up and realized I needed major changes if I hoped to get better.
I am writing to you sober (for the moment) because my pain levels are manageable without the aid of prescriptions, and since several people asked me to follow-up when I felt better, I thought I would not only update you on my current progress but also sketch out the last ten days of torment I endured. Before delving into the gruesome details, I want to reiterate my heartfelt thanks for all the prayer, thoughts, and well-wishes I received. My dad would read them to me when I was in too much pain to check, and it brightened my spirits. Many of you sent me the sweetest personal messages about how I had helped you or how much my store meant to you, and as a small business owner, I cannot ask for anything more. The love you showed me helped and continues to help me as I recover and move forward after what has been a rather tough couple years. In kind, I wish all of you nothing but the best and success in all you endeavor to accomplish.
First, this message is coming to you courtesy of antibiotics and prescription pain meds, so I apologize in advance if it isn’t up to my usual writing standards. Pain + Painkillers = Pitiful Prose. Anyway, 2017 has not exactly been a banner year for me, what with identify theft, near hospitalization from a stomach flu, an attack on my cat, walking pneumonia, and a recent diagnosis of a thyroid condition. I know, I know. Rattling off negativity like that undermines the many wonderful, positive things I experienced this year, and I am grateful for those shining beacons of happiness. However, we’re not talking about happiness today. We’re talking about the fact I am having an outpatient surgical procedure done tomorrow. Saturday I made it through the day at the store despite being in considerable pain, and things only escalated. On Monday, I had an emergency appointment with my primary care who informed me I needed a small surgical procedure. I’ve spent all week unable to get off my couch without help (seriously) while waiting for the referral paperwork to be completed. Today, after my condition has only continued to worsen while waiting, I called and practically pleaded to be seen. Desperation worked, and I am now on the docket for 10:45a.m. But, what does this mean for the store?
First and foremost, our incredible backers deserve a boisterous, hearty, and much deserved round of applause for raising over $3,300 toward bringing bra sized swimsuits into the shop! Without your early and ongoing support, the shop would rely almost exclusively on special orders to satisfy customer demands. As a result, if you have already contributed to the campaign, please email your size and preferred swimsuits to sophisticatedpair[at]gmail[dot]com, and I will ensure your preferences are ordered immediately. To view available options, please visit the links below: