The steamy summer month of July holds a special place in my heart because our little bra shop celebrates its anniversary. A Sophisticated Pair stemmed from my personal desire to find a store which not only offered a range of bra sizes in a wide assortment of colors and styles, but that also offered the kind of quality customer service I found lacking in my own bra shopping experiences. When I was finally fitted properly, I realized the potential for transformation contained in a bra fitting and wanted everyone to feel the same way I did—to look at themselves through the lens of acceptance and confidence. The experience left such an imprint on me that despite being a computer programmer fresh out of grad school, I began researching not only bra fitting techniques but also the fundamentals of owning a small retail business. After two years, I felt comfortable contemplating the idea of a storefront, and I approached my aunt Debbie and my dad Jason with my ideas for improving the bra shopping experience. Together, we sacrificed, worked hard, persevered, and worked harder still so that we could open our doors on July 17, 2011. In a few short days, we will celebrate five years of operation. I have several posts planned about the anniversary (including our annual statistical series) and am looking forward to sharing some of the ups and downs we’ve had with all of our readers. For the meantime though, let’s discuss our annual sale and giveaway!
My intention was to post this review about two weeks ago, but if you follow our Facebook page, you’ll remember we spent about a week hanging new fixtures and reorganizing the store. Every time I undertake a new project, I always forget to multiply whatever my initial time estimate is by three, and I distinctly recall thinking while my dad and I plotted out the placement of our new efficient and stylish wall mounts was “Oh, this shouldn’t take more than two hours to hang and maybe another two to put everything up.” Oh how foolish I was!! Even though it is totally unrelated to the review itself, I thought I would share a before and after picture here of our progress:
We now return you to our regularly scheduled review. In my recent reviews of the Freya Fancies bralette and the Fit Fully Yours Kristina, I mentioned how wireless requests have exploded in the last several months, and as part of my scrambling efforts to expand inventory, I began eying the Goddess Sports Bra. One of the challenges of running a lingerie store and planning inventory assortment is determining what to sacrifice carrying on-hand in order to stay open—an agonizing process the result of which customers do not always understand. Sports bras (and to some extent strapless bras) have always been underrepresented because they both are utility pieces, often not purchased until the client needs them. A notable exception to this is the Panache Sports bra which is one of our best-selling bras, and my personal favorite sports bra of all time. As with normal bras, sports bra are available in multiple styles in a range of sizes and fabrics, each designed for different tissue types, breast shapes, and activity levels. Because of this, sports bra could easily have a dedicated department all their own, budget and space constraints notwithstanding.
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.
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!
TweetMy torrid love affair with Polish bras has taken over the content of the blog for the last few months, and while they hold a special place in my heart, I realized a few weeks ago that there were so
Say what you will about over-commercialization, Christmas music before Thanksgiving, and a crazy feeding frenzy for the best deals, but the holidays are one of my favorite times of year. For our family, it is not without its pain as well, but I like to focus on a how many of us put aside our own needs and focus on giving to someone else, whether that’s a loved one or a local charity. Unfortunately, for some small businesses, this can also be a time of year when things are the hardest. For us, customers pinch pennies to increase their spending budgets for presents for their friends and family and forgo buying something new for themselves. As a result, I am putting aside my personal ambivalence regarding buying guides and have created one exclusively for the products we carry in the shop. Even if you are not in the market for yourself right now, we still have some great present ideas all of which are under $100! Click on the picture to purchase at our online store, or click the name in the description section to read past reviews to help with your buying decisions.
We have finally arrived at my favorite post to compile in the series: our best-sellers. While knowing which cup sizes, band sizes, and bra sizes sell the best is an extremely important element to maintaining inventory, it’s also smart to keep track of what products perform well and in what sizes. My strategy with purchasing new inventory is to create a well-rounded set of options per size cluster, which includes carrying multiple styles, colors, and brands designed to suit a variety of customer breast shapes and preferences. Analyzing our best-sellers can be a key way to select future core styles, determine the best colors to choose, and even analyze the optimum size configuration per style.
We are moving forward with our annual sales discussion to examine the sales of each cup size. Be sure to check out both our demographics post as well as our band size breakdown. Keep in mind, cup size means nothing without a band to give it context, but for the purposes of our analysis, I want to compare how sales across cup sizes differ. Below is a graph for the sales distribution of each cup size. (Note: For my discussion, I will refer to cup sizes using the UK sizing system.)
July 17th is always an emotional day for us because it marks our anniversary for opening the shop, and with four years of operation and experience under the proverbial belt, we feel the store has truly grown and improved—a trend we plan to continue by expanding our inventory and improving our services. Because our boutique would not exist without the support of our wonderful customers, we are happy to celebrate again this year with our August Anniversary Sale and Giveaway! Words will never express how much you mean to us, but a few free prizes certainly won’t hurt.
On more than one occasion, I have mentioned my ongoing goal to create a shop people visit for more than just bras, and while progress is slow due to budget and space constraints, I feel like our giveaway this year truly reflects how diverse the shop is becoming. We have prizes ranging from traditional lingerie sets to bust-friendly clothing to hosiery, and I have to give a standing ovation to our vendors for being so generous.
TweetHello Everyone, File this review under my “Better Late than Never” category as it was recorded pre-Fall illness; however, since the Minnie is now an ongoing style for Cleo, discussing the advantages and disadvantages of the bra remain relevant and