I was lucky enough to chat with, Lindsey Runyon, the owner of an award winning lingerie boutique in the heart of Seattle, Bellefleur, meaning lovely flower in Old French. Bellefleur has been described as the jewel box or candy store of lingerie. Lindsey believes if you’re going to wear underwear, it might as well be beautiful, so she fills her store with colorful lingerie, brands you’ve never heard, and sizes that go up to 36G.
Here are the tips I learned while chatting with her
1. It might be obvious, but please your customers! Bellefleur has made itself a one-stop shop where women can come to find trusted companies they know and love, and also discover new brands that have just joined the market. Lindsey is constantly seeking out new labels and attending trade shows to keep up with the constant innovations in lingerie. Also, to Bellefleur, lingerie doesn’t just mean bras and panties, it’s loungewear, sleepwear, chemises and the list goes on.
2. People care! Ethics matter! Go as sustainable as you can without going crazy! Ethical fashion is so much more than finding quality sourced fabrics. How are the workers treated? Is someone regulating against child labor? Do the workers have access to fresh air? Is the factory up cycling or recycling? How do they deal with their waste? There is no one organization creating a global standard of practice on regulating this. And it is HARD sorting through allllll of these questions and running your own business too!
So how Lindsey deals with this is buying as much as possible from companies that make their lingerie in the US, Canada and Europe where working conditions might be better than other, less regulated, countries. Lindsey no longer stocks Bellefleur with any products made in China. As much as she would love to sell all organic all made in the US lingerie, there wouldn’t be a boutique if she did. But hopefully we will keep seeing more and more sustainable lingerie brands.
3. This one is for the lingerie designers out there, please, please, please make it easy for boutiques to sell your lingerie—because they really want to!
No--it doesn’t matter if you are hosting your own mini tradeshow in a hotel room instead of in a booth at Curve. Everyone wants to support a great new label, but you need to have a way for boutiques to buy your lingerie. Have clear line sheets. Have beautiful, high quality photographs of your pieces (You can always hire Lingerie of the Day for that!). Have real samples, not stick figure drawings! Just imagine how well Tinder would have done if it was stick figure drawings of guys, instead of profile pictures. Your price point must be reasonable and sellable. The lingerie comes on time and when it is ordered. Good production is vital! You could have the most amazing lingerie, but if you can't get it to people, then you don't have a business, so have a good relationship with your manufacturers. Social media is huge, a good fit is a must, and customer service is oh so so so so so important.
4. Lastly, advice to blossoming entrepreneurs, your business will always cost more than you think it will. Set up your business in such a way that what is coming in wayyyy exceeds what is going out. Cause any business owner will tell you, there will always be unexpected expenses. So when you accidently spill coffee on your laptop, you can afford to buy a new one without having a panic attack. Keep it flush baby.