It's one of those stories that seems to good to be true. But Molly Hopkins and Cynthia Richards, owners of LiviRae Lingerie in Kennesaw, Georgia, despite opening with a dime and a prayer, have made their store a gleaming success.
They met while working for Intimacy in Atlanta. But soon, the commute grew too much and the pair wanted to start their own store, with their own focus.
So they bought a former garden center that adjoined the Fleu De Coop Antique Store owned by Molly's cousin and brought in furniture from the shop next door to hold all the products. They even repaired or tea-dyed vintage draperies and draped them on the ceiling. Every inch of the store told a story, and added to the intimate and comfortable setting the pair hoped to create.
"We turned a blue box into a beautiful shop," Hopkins said.
The decision, although impulsive, seemed right from the very beginning. When Hopkins and Richards knew they wanted to open a store, the first order of business was the name. To their amazement, the pair thought of the exact same top choice: a compilation of their daughter's names. (Molly's daughter's nickname is Livi and Cynthia's daughter's nickname is Rae-Rae.)
When the store first opened, Hopkins and Richards quickly separated to take on different tasks within the business. The self-described "technical one" ordered everything and performed data analysis while Richards altered everything, which included sewing breast form pockets into fashionable bras. (LiviRae specializes in nursing and mastectomy bras.)
"It worked like a well-oiled machine from the very beginning," she said.
The store opened in Kennesaw, Georgia in June, and after just a few months Hopkins and Richards' business was booming.
Then one day, a young girl walked in and picked out a Le Mystere bra she said she desperately wanted, but the $80 price tag was just too much. It was then that Molly got an idea- a referral program of sorts. She told the girl that if she told 10 people about the store, and those 10 people came in and visited, she would give her the bra for free. Ten days passed, and with every day came a new customer referred by the driven student. On the tenth day the girl was rewarded with that Le Mystere bra- and was hired on the spot.
The spark of success was not solely attributed to the women's business management or seamstress skills, although impressive. Hopkins and Richards have taken their sense of humor with them into business, with catch phrases including "No bust too big or small. We fit them all," (printed on business cards) and "We're here to lift your boobs as well as your spirits," (displayed in the store.)
Customers range from 12 to 90 years old.
In the near future, Hopkins said that Applied Medical Billing will be available for customers. For now, the women say they can't imagine doing anything else. And they have been successful enough to ensure they won't have to, as they are on track to hit $1 million in sales their first year in business.
"We're just a leap of faith," Hopkins said. "And we couldn't be happier."