Q&A with Molly Hopkins and Cynthia Richards.
Ted Vayos, BODY: Describe your store. How has your television show Double Divas impacted the business?
Molly Hopkins and Cynthia Richards: We are located in a suburban area just outside of Atlanta in a small strip center. We originally were in an older building adjacent to an antique store which we outgrew quickly. Our current location was opened in Aug 2010 when we needed more space and moved to a street front presence. We also saw that we could benefit being in between the Christian bookstore, and Davids Bridal. God made boobs and brides need bras! We carry essential basics in foundations, as well as shapewear, “sexy,” bridal lingerie and bustiers, swimwear, custom designs, and mastectomy products. We like to consider ourselves the one stop bust shop. We hope that the industry on the whole has seen an increase in business from our TV show because we have tried very hard to bring proper fit to the forefront of American women and mens’ minds. Our business has seen tremendous growth and people have made us their vacation destination. They are planning trips around a visit to our ship. Our out of town traffic has increased the most.
Ted: What makes your store special?
Molly and Cynthia: We try very hard to not place judgement on any woman. We pride ourselves in making personal relationships with our clients. We don’t care if you are a size 2 or 22. When you leave, we have we have lifted your breasts as well as your spirit.
Ted: What do you look for in a brand?
Molly and Cynthia: We look for well constructed, unique brands, as well as tried and true basic replenishment for continuity. We are always looking to support new vendors, as well as small independent labels because they have personality and individuality in their designs. We absolutely love Affinitas/Parfait for a great fashion combo for small and full bust. Wacoal represents a great deal of our basics, coming in with Eveden Brands, and LeMystere for repeated product. We dabble in a little bit of everything! We recently brought in Chantelle as a higher price point, and are also bringing in Empreinte. We wanted to wait on these brands for a while to educate our clients on what’s in a bra that costs more than our average price point which has been around $68. The response to Chantelle has been overwhelming leaving the clients salivating for the next new shipment. I’m sure a lot of retailers will agree with, “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it,” when it comes to basics that get discontinued that have been breadwinners. Too many brands try to push too many basics and can’t keep up with stock position because they are spread so thin. They launch new products, get stores excited, then retailers can’t get re-orders on this stock for months later. It makes it hard when you have sales girls on the floor ready to push a product, doing their jobs for “customer service,” and gaining client confidence to buy, only to not be able to seal the deal for the sale. We have enough smooth nude and shapewear to sink battleships with! The designers need to think outside the box and come with newness and freshness in other areas. People need to step back and truly see what is still missing in this industry. They should put more money into marketing and education for consumers to help build businesses and bra fit awareness for independent retailers as well as department stores.
Ted: What are the latest trends?
Molly and Cynthia: Letting fun colorful straps show, or the peek-a-boo out the top. Having fashionable bras under sheer shirts.
Ted: Describe your price points and size ranges.
Molly and Cynthia: Our bras are priced from $42 to $120, with the average being $68. When we bring in Empreinte our top pricing point will then be around $160.
We go from a 28 A to a 50 N, and sell lingerie from a petite small to a 6x.
Ted: What is your typical or
average customer size?
Molly and Cynthia: The most common size in our shop is a 34 G, but most of the high schoolers and teens we service average a 32 D/ DD.
Ted: What does the average customer spend per visit to your store?
Molly and Cynthia: Around $250, but it really depends. When Cynthia and I are fitting, our sales average around $500. That is what we also averaged when we worked at another lingerie store. We definitely believe that all women should have a great rotation going in her bra wardrobe; therefore, when taking ladies through the fit process we like to to educate and present them with several options.
Ted: Describe your customer.
Molly and Cynthia: 60% - female- ages 35-55, 30%- teens/older mature women/college students and 10% -male.
Ted: What changes would you like to make to your business in the near future?
Molly and Cynthia: In the next twelve months we look forward to getting our e-commerce business up and running (www.liviraelingerie.com), opening an additional location, and hitting the road with our mobile bra-tique, “Boobs On The Move,” so that we can further fulfill our mission of providing women with proper fit all across this country.
Ted: There have been many rumors that you have plans to launch your own brand in 2014?
Molly and Cynthia: We have been actively pursuing manufacturers, as well as traveled to source fabrics. One of our current products is a reusable nipple concealer that sticks without adhesive called, Chippy’s Chips. They come in two colors, salt and pepper. We will be launching additional products next year for sure because Cynthia and I both have experience in design and know fit. Bra fit and fashion are our passion and we have the capabilities of creating a stupendous product that will be a necessity for every woman.