Q&A with Bonnie Bell, president
Ted Vayos, BODY: Describe your store for our readers.
Bonnie Bell: I actually started in a smaller place downtown Martinsburg. I stayed there for two (2) years. It wasn’t the best location, but did get my start there. I used to work in a mall many years prior and I liked it. Martinsburg is a small town between two (2) larger cities and after research Foxcroft is our main shopping district. Traffic is larger and it is right off of the interstate which is easy access. The mall gave me ample parking, and visibility. My products that I carry is Affinitas, Parfait, Montelle, Elomie, Goddess, Freya, Fantasie, Curvy Kate, as well as my mastectomy products—Amoena, American Breast Care, and Anita just to name a few. Since I have increased my inventory to fine lingerie I am expecting to be able to draw women from the surrounding areas that are hard to fit.
Ted: What makes your store special?
Bonnie: Me. My passion for what I do and for my customers is what makes my store special.
Ted: What do you look for in a brand?
Bonnie: I look for quality. I need them to look and feel like a 70.00 bra whether it is or not. I need them to fit my customers like body gloves. When the quality is good, then it will last, when it will last, the customer remembers, and I believe that is what brings them back. A woman’s breasts should look and feel like a million bucks, and when you have good quality and great fit, our self-esteem rises, and we as women tend to go back to what gave us that feeling. Also a good quality bra will help their posture and back. I am very particular about the brands that I carry. I want those that have a sex appeal. With the sex appeal, they have to fit us. Remember that we are wearing these everyday all day, so they have to be comfortable. The brands that I have found adapts to a womans body exactly how I need and want them to. The Brands are: Affinitas, Parfait, Fantasie, Elomi, Freya, Goddess, Va Bein, Carnival, Curvy Kate, Montelle, Panache, Elila, Cake Lingerie (Mastecomy line) Amoena, Anita, American Breast Care, TruLife, Jodee, Classique.
The outstanding is the Eveden and Montelle lines. I have a wide variety of plus size women whose breast tissues are very shallow. I have found these two lines hold them appropriately in the cup.
I have brought in the Va Bein, Jodee and Cake Lingerie. They are really taking off and proving to be impressive investments.
My original line started for my mastectomy customers, so I still carry large brand of mastectomy lines and starting a line of maternity lingerie, in which I hope to will also do well.
The Curvy Kate was a disappointment to me. The women I work with don’t have what I would call virgin breast tissue. Without strong breast tissue I found the bras not giving the complete fit and lift I needed for them. Believe it or not I had a customer that was larger than a 52N so I would say maybe go up to a 54O. Also with mastectomy customers we need more of the underwire, with larger band and cup sizes.
Ted: Describe the popular styles or trends in your store.
Bonnie: The average size females prefer the smooth underwire and less sheer and the plus size females prefer the more trending bright lace colors in lieu of darker colors.
Ted: Describe your price points and size ranges.
Bonnie: My bras starts at $29.99-$74.99 and my sizes are from 28AA-52N
Ted: What is your typical or average customer size?
Bonnie: Between 36G-40H and 38D-40C for mastectomy customers.
Ted: What does the average customer spend per visit?
Bonnie: Between $65.00--$150.00
Ted: Describe your customer.
Bonnie: My customer base is predominately female between the ages of 17 to 85.
Ted: What has impacted your store the most over the past year?
Bonnie: I’ve added a new lingerie line which facilitated in expanding my clienteles. Even though I still concentrate on my mastectomy customers I wanted to expand to all women. By adding a new lingerie line I am not limiting myself to mastectomy clientele but I am opening the boutique to serve all women, giving all women a chance to feel beautiful underneath. I’ve giving the boutique a fabulous facelift so when others enter they feel that sensation of awareness about themselves of wanting to be beautiful underneath.