Today, I am tickled pink to be spotlighting a personal friend of mine: the one and only Iman Woods! Iman and I met when she came to the store in search of bras, and we immediately clicked. Both of us love being personal cheerleaders for people, empowering them to see the beauty within themselves and to appreciate their bodies as they are. Meeting Iman was not like meeting a stranger but more like connecting with a friend, and her generosity of spirit is inspiring. She volunteered to loan me the gorgeous pinup paintings—which she did herself by the way—to decorate the store, and she constantly refers clients to the shop. In keeping with her goals of building a supportive community, Iman often hosts “Girls Night Out” parties to introduce her friends to each other, and every single one of them has been a blast with lots of great conversation and laughter. I love when people build each other up and find ways of working together to create something wonderful, and Iman channels this energy into all of her endeavors.
I know it’s been a while since I checked in here, and I have a post planned which talks more on my absence plus upcoming plans for the blog. However, in the meantime, I wanted to pop in with a quick product review of the Freya Enchanted! I mentioned in my Freya Hero review the potential for carrying Freya’s non-padded bras in the shop again, specifically for the 28-34E-G customers who enjoyed the lightweight fabrics and comfortable fit. Because of Freya’s fashion forward nature, I wanted to select a style with longevity and multiple core colors to make replenishment easier, and Enchanted seemed like a contender with its smoother profile and adorable details.
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!
Okay, forgive me for indulging in a little bit of a click bait headline there, but I hope this is the only time and in the only context in which I ever post “I’m going to jail.” A couple weeks ago, a customer nominated me to be “Locked Up” to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. If you are nominated, you are not obligated to participate, and to be honest, I wavered initially. In addition to being busy with work, I have also been struggling to create a balance in my personal life and to overcome the lingering depression, anxiety, and trauma of my brother’s attack last fall. Did I really want to add another commitment to my already full plate? However, muscular dystrophy is not a disease unknown to our family, and supporting the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) was always a priority for my mom. Ultimately, I knew I wanted to get involved and offer my help, even if that meant getting “locked up.”
When I reviewed the fabulous Fleur’t with Me Wild Child lounge collection several months ago, I alluded to how challenging it can be for boutique owners to find inexpensive sleepwear for their inventory mix. Most small businesses stake their reputations on providing customers with more unique and better quality items than can be found at big box or chain stores, and many boutique-oriented manufacturers focus on smaller, ethically-sourced collections which utilize indulgent fabrics, eye-catching details, and a superb fit. In short, quality shows through in all things, even pajamas, and quality costs more. However, not everyone can afford to splurge on higher priced lounge wear, and I am always watching the market for something fashionable and wallet-friendly. Enter newcomer Silk & Soul. The brand contacted me last year, and while the bra styles were not a good fit for the shop, the lounging collections were absolutely adorable.
Because I am an active supporter of men who choose to wear bras either for medical or personal reasons, I often am privileged to interact with some amazing people who face constant struggles to be accepted in the traditionally female lingerie world. Between inexperienced sales representatives to outright discrimination, it is not easy for a man to be fitted properly for a bra, and I believe it is essential for fitters and lingerie professionals to approach working with anyone, male or female, with a level of compassion and acceptance they would expect for their own choices. One of my male clients has gone on to launch the very successful Bra Guy blog, which focuses more on working with gynecomastia—a medical condition which results in enlarged breasts in men, but today I want to focus on an alternative reason why men may want to wear a bra: They enjoy it for themselves. Not everyone understands or accepts individuals who bend or break traditional gender rules, too frequently applying derogatory labels to their decisions. There is more than enough hate in the world, and I’d rather showcase why acceptance is so important and how life-changing it can be for the individual. To help me, I asked Trycia, who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting in person, to write a guest post outlining her experiences with cross-dressing and shopping as a biological male in a female world. It took a lot of courage for Trycia to share her feelings so publicly, and I hope you enjoy her post as much as I do!
First, I must apologize for the delay in blogging here. I have so many fantastic ideas for the new year, but my business partner and I are in the midst of finishing up all of the necessary information for last year’s financials plus getting a jump start on taxes (basically stuff we both abhor with a passion). Sadly, blogging is one of the lower priority items on my agenda for the time being even though it’s one of my favorite aspects of the business. Ironically, despite intermittent Internet access, winter storm Jonas has provided me the perfect opportunity to catch up work on blogging because I was stuck at home while a barrage of freezing rain and pellet-sized hail assaulted the already fragile tree limbs, tempting them to give way and fall to the earth. Rather than brave the packed ice constituting our roads which left my brother’s newer and nicer car sliding about and unable to climb a hill, I curled up inside with a beautiful afghan knitted by my aunt as a present, my terrorists, and a glass of wine to write product reviews and edit a very special guest post for later this week. Here’s hoping all of my east coast readers weathered the storm safely.
I’m back this month and really excited to review some new goodies that I picked up over the holidays. This review is even more appropriate as Erica is the smart lady who turned me onto Tia Lyn, which is now one of my favorite loungewear brands.
Since I work from home, my standards of “getting dressed” these days are pretty lax. Lots of days, I’ll just throw on some comfy loungewear instead of clothes if I’m not planning to go anywhere. Consequently, my loungewear goes through a lot. I have two dogs, I’m klutz who drinks lots of caffeinated beverages and I definitely don’t treat my loungewear very delicately. I’ve tried lots of high end loungewear sets that use modal in the past, but haven’t been really impressed. Modal fabric feels great, but doesn’t always hold up to washing or long term wear. I’m really pleased to report that this set has held up spectacularly over the past month or so that I’ve had it, which makes this line worth the investment for me based on longevity alone.
As a store owner, a bra fitter, and a lingerie enthusiast, I am always seeking out new brands and products both for myself and for my customers. Exploring the marketplace for hidden gems can lead to a creative inventory assortment which distinguishes a small business from a big box competitor, and with bras, new brands and products can not only offer the chance to find more innovative solutions to customer requests but can also allow for a wonderful relationship with a vendor you respect. With this sentiment in mind, I was speaking with a sales representative for another company we offer who also happens to work with Fit Fully Yours, and she raved about the fit and the quality of the line. Furthermore, she noted Fit Fully Yours values retail partners by protecting territories, handling orders swiftly, and ensuring their products are not discounted or sent to outlet stores. Since most of my readers are regular consumers, the latter endorsements are probably irrelevant, but as a tired, overworked entrepreneur, I am more likely to dedicate a chunk of our budget to a company that makes things easier on me. Of course, no matter how great a company can be to work with, their products’ fit and quality must be top notch for our customers, and so I ordered a few for myself, including the Nicole See-Thru Lace!
Back in the day, Freya was my way-too-cool-for-me bestie with her crazy prints, bright colors, and confidence to throw Russian dolls on a bra like it was as natural as flowers or polka dots, but then a cup size bump and breast shape change sent on us divergent paths. I never lost hope that we would reconnect, which is why I have continued to experiment with new Freya styles like the discontinued Marvel and the Fantasie retread Rapture. In the shop, we phased out Freya non-padded bras a couple years ago because the demand for t-shirt bras and basic colors eclipsed the need for a fashion-oriented brand; however, recently, customers in the 30-36 DD-FF cup range have begged for core colors and styles from my former pal. As a result, I asked my sales rep for suggestions, and her choice was the new Hero—the first original, uniquely Freya frame in some time. Naturally, I snagged one for myself.