One of the great things about Exclusively Kristen's East Coast and Midwest pop up shop tour is that I get to meet some amazing female entrepreneurs. Women-owned firms account for only 31% of all privately held firms but in the lingerie retail space, women dominate.
ALL of the lingerie boutiques that I've worked with have been owned by women. Most of them cited frustration with bra shopping due to being plus size or top heavy or both as the reason why they went into the lingerie boutique business. So it's been a great experience working with fellow go-getters who see a void in the market and want to actively do something about it.
Cheryl started G Boutique in Chicago because of her frustration with adult stores being male-oriented. She wanted to create a space where women can plan romantic escapades and not have to deal with a grimy, uncomfortable atmosphere. Adult toys, lingerie (not stripper apparel but actual lingerie up to a G cup), and adult-themed classes are all under one roof. Adult DVD's are pre-screened by women to make sure that the content is women-friendly.
Laura from the Rack Shack in Brooklyn noticed that most lingerie boutiques carry very expensive full bust brands, no full bust brands, or full bust brands with boring and frumpy styles in basic colors. So she decided to open a boutique with a wide range of colors and sizes, and youth-inspired styles. Bushwick is known for its young and hip residents, so a boutique that has performances by burlesque opera singers and sells sea green polka dot bras and sneakers that light up is the perfect fit for the neighborhood.
Naomi (see top photo) left a high level IT job to open Marie Angelique in St. Louis, which is named after her grandmother. During my time there, I met two of Naomi's sons (one of whom just graduated from an Ivy League university) and her mother. Naomi happily expressed that owning the boutique gave her more time to spend with her family compared to her IT job.
Lee opened Busted Bra Shop in Detroit in order to fill a local void. The few lingerie boutiques in the Detroit area were all located in the suburbs. This void caused both long drives for people living in the city and wait times of 45 minutes or more for the bra fitting. So Lee decided to open her shop near downtown and became part of the new Detroit renaissance. I'd also like to mention that the building where Busted Bra Shop is located is absolutely gorgeous and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Also, Frida Kahlo lived there while working on a mural for the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Lee from Busted Bra Shop
Laura from The Rack Shack (yes, she is an Exclusively Kristen model!)
Cheryl from G Boutique