In honor of Small Business Saturday, today we’re republishing this 2010 guest article from Alison of Faire Frou Frou. While TLA is not a blog exclusively for indie boutiques and designers, we do make an effort to feature them as often as possible. Please take a look at our Etsy Lingerie Directory, Corset Directory, and Lingerie Boutiques Directory for more small businesses you can support during the holiday season.
I can’t tell you how happy I am to feature a guest post from the lovely, fashionable, and incredibly business savvy Alison Rubke of the world-famous lingerie boutique Faire Frou Frou (seriously…Dita von Teese shops there!). Not only is Faire Frou Frou one of the best lingerie boutiques in the nation, they also have a very popular fashion lingerie blog–Frou Frou Fashionista. As one of the inspirations for getting my own lingerie blog started, it’s an absolute honor to feature an article from them here. Today, Alison is here to talk about what makes shopping at a luxury lingerie boutique different from the typical ‘big box’ store in the mall.
There’s a reason why specialty lingerie boutiques can successfully hold their own in a world of big name department stores…and we’re here to tell you why!
The idea behind a specialty lingerie store is quite simply to provide experience, guidance and excellent customer service as relates to intimate apparel. Sounds pretty simple, right? There are certain advantages to shopping specialty stores that set them apart from your experience at the big guys. We will explore those Pros and will also provide our tips to making your experience in those lingerie shops more enjoyable.
The ADVANTAGES of shopping at a specialty lingerie boutique (such as Faire Frou Frou!):
• An intimate setting where a customer can receive one-on-one consultation and advice regarding his/her needs.
• Access to unique brands
• Ability to special-order a size/color/brand that is not in stock.
• Knowledgeable sales staff. You will work with someone who knows the products well, can tell you when new items are expected to arrive, knows what the trends are for the forthcoming season, has a working relationship with most of the designers/vendors so as to pass along any advice/suggestions you may have, and someone who can properly assess whether an item fits correctly or not.
• A small boutique wants to build long-term relationships with its customers. That being said, we (at Faire Frou Frou) would never suggest an ill-fitting item to a customer just to make a quick sale because we know that customer will never want to come back. We provide honest advice and will even suggest another store if we do not have what someone is looking for. We are very open to providing customers with addresses/websites to other stores or names of brands we do not carry. Customer service like that is forward-thinking and goes a long way.
• A specialty boutique can handle customized and specific requests.
• A smaller store will typically go out of its way to make the customer happy because their business is their passion and their livelihood.
• As the owner of Faire Frou Frou, I make a point of working in the store at least 4-5 days a week to stay in touch with what the customers want. Our experiences with each customer only make us that much better for the next customer who comes in.
• We handle our own social networking, which means we access the opinions and suggestions of potential customers worldwide. We are passionate about what we do and absorb as much advice as we can.
• If anything, a lot of our customers just don’t want to deal with going to the mall!
• Different specialty boutiques have different niche markets. For instance ours is a focus on luxury lingerie, but for others their store specialty may be mastectomy bras, nursing bras, pin-up/rockabilly, plus-size, small-busts, foundations, etc.
Based on the customers we have worked with, here are our TIPS for ladies/gents before going lingerie shopping:
• Be open-minded to trying different sizes. You may be surprised that you wear a 34C in one brand a perfectly fit a 36B in another. So many people can be so rigid about their size! The average customer is unaware that a British bra is often sized differently than a French or American bra…which means you will certainly fit in different sizes in different brands.
• Gentlemen, please do your homework! Knowing her size before you go shopping will make the experience that much easier. You can either peek in her drawer for her sizes, or just ask her!
• Lingerie shopping can be so much more than just Bras and Panties; you have the option of chemises, robes, PJs, bustiers, Camisoles, Hosiery, etc. We always suggest stockings with a lingerie ensemble; it really takes the whole look up a notch.
• Keep in mind that a specialty boutique is accustomed to helping people with very specific needs.
• Don’t be sorry about your size! We tend to notice our small-busted customers apologizing for “being too small”…that’s nonsense! Keep in mind that we see a lot of breasts on a daily basis…like a doctor, we’ve seen it all so there’s nothing to be ashamed of and it’s our job to find the brands that suit you best!
• Some customers feel there is something wrong with their body because they have a hard time finding the right bra…that is not true at all. These customers just have not found the right brand or style yet. There’s a reason there are so many brands to choose from; one bra style/brand does not work on everyone. The right bra for each person is out there somewhere!
• If you do not feel 100% pleased with how you look in an item, do not buy it. We always know when a customer has found the right item when they have an exclamation of excitement from the fitting room!
• We have quite a few customers who shop for Bridal gifts. Sometimes it’s hard to buy your friend a bra (it’s such a personal preference), so we suggest finding a gift that runs sizes small, medium, large, etc. because there’s more wiggle room with fit. Also, if you are completely stumped on what size to buy for a gift, be creative and put together an assortment of accessories (like a pair of stockings and accessories by Maison Close or Booty Parlor…or perhaps Delicates Wash…anything that isn’t so specific with sizing).
• Just because you were ill-fitted and bought the wrong bra at a chain store, doesn’t mean all lingerie stores are that way. Give the specialty boutique a chance! We are prepared to have customers come in and request a bra fitting.
• If a lingerie boutique has an online store, take a peek at it before heading in to shop…some of our customers come in with a shopping list from our website which makes the experience that much easier!
We hope these tips help you out…it’s just a bit of lingerie wisdom that we have gained in our experience in the industry.