Lingerie and Swimwear for sizes 6B to 26K

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What is the future for a bricks and mortar retailer?? Monday Gripe!!

I am so angry right now and it’s not how I normally conduct myself!? I have had a day that has truly tested me and if I wasn’t pregnant I would go home and console myself with a bottle of wine!

My grumble is about online websites.

Not only the big ones e.g. NZ sale, designer brands online etc but those based offshore that are category specific i.e. lingerie, shoes etc and market into NZ , and the people who ensure that the demand for these products see more and more of them popping up like mushrooms overnight to meet consumer demand. Some of them arriving, ripping off unsuspecting customers and disappearing back to wherever it is they came from.

 Like all of the websites based offshore they have their place and are great for sourcing product that is not or has never been available in NZ HOWEVER I have to say people if you do not shop local, there is a very real chance that when you are desperate to buy something last-minute for something unplanned (a special bra to go with an amazing dress to wear out “tonight”, a pair of pantyhose because yours just ran or a pair of heels to wear with a new outfit for the weekend?) you will be out of luck because there will be no local stores for you to try on and buy last-minute. Waiting 14-21 days (and more) for something to arrive is great if you are not in a hurry but one day you will want to be able to shop “local”……

I own and run a “bricks and mortar” lingerie store and there is a lot of time and money that has gone into setting up my business along with plenty of blood, sweat and tears.

There are costs associated with such a store. Rent, rates, insurance for stock, building insurance, water rates, power, any staff costs, ACC levies (and plenty more I am sure that I can’t recall right now). We do not order stock when a customer orders it. We buy it up to 6 months ahead of time and it’s paid for as soon as it arrives. If it sits in your store for a while- too bad.  These overheads take care of any profit that you may have been lucky enough to secure when buying stock for your business.

I know there will be a large number of people out there right now thinking “so what” and I guess I don’t blame you wholeheartedly. Money is tight and financial people are still preaching doom and gloom but I am asking you to shop local wherever possible and be respectful of those of us who work bloody hard in our businesses doing doggy paddle frantically trying to keep our heads above water.

I have spent countless hours in the past few weeks fitting people for lingerie in my store making sure that the size, style, shape and purpose for which the garment is intended are perfect for the customer to have the customer tell me that they are going to buy it online as it’s cheaper. It’s cheeky, rude, disrespectful and makes me furious!!!

It proves to me that there is and always will be the need for “bricks and mortar” stores as people will always want to try, touch and look at the quality before buying online but if these stores are not supported we will not survive the economic downturn and you will have no option other than to buy without trying and spend weeks if not months returning ill-fitting garments and waiting for replacement size. Cause and effect plain and simple.

Can you see the future? “Please line up nipples with the dots on your computer screen and we will suggest ideal bra for you”??

I treat my customers like gold. They are all my VIP’s and they always will be. Many of them have become close friends and I look forward to seeing them every time the come and visit or shop. I reward them with loyalty points and a glass of wine or something yummy on occasion when they come in and spend time with them making sure we get it right.

 

 I only mention this because off shore websites are marketing hard at the moment into NZ and we are sending all our money off shore and there is very little support of the NZ economy or retailers/service providers :(

I think this is the fastest blog I have ever written. Fuelled by anger and a desire to get it off my chest so I can plan for a better Tuesday and rest of the week.

To all the retailers out there….we need to make our voices heard before it’s too late.

Bra review- Freya active moulded spacer racer back sports bra

Funny story behind Bravista- Lingerie & Swimwear getting this bra instore!

I have always told my husband that the reason I didn’t run was that there had never been a sports bra made that would stop me from doing serious injury to my face with my breasts and at a 12H I wasn’t really lying- stretching the truth maybe? But not lying :)

I ordered in a Freya sports bra for myself to test wear (the one I thought I ordered had wires) and somehow I ended up with the Freya AA 4891. Obviously this was a typo on my part and Alesha who works for me was rolling around on the ground when it arrived in store while making derogatory comments about the facial injuries I was going to inflict on myself by wearing a wire free bra etc all the time with tears of laughter running down her face (this is a whole different blog post and will be titled “performance management”- lol).

Anyway. Long story short, I went home and hopped on the treadmill. I started off with a brisk power walk and decided that I felt comfortable and suppported and while checking out my silhouette in the lounge window was pleasantly surprised to see that the profile was neutral and rounded and not all all pointy (which sports bras have tended to make me look).

I will however point out to you all now that this bra is a little tricky to get into and if you have a shoulder injury or limited mobility in the shoulder area you may struggle to get into this bra. I have found the “easiest?” way to get into is it to put head and arms into bra and when you have the bra around your torso (roughly at lower armpit level) lean forward and “scoop” your bust into the cup and pull down to straighten. Fasten as usual. Try to avoid anyone watching you do this unless you intend for it to be filmed and go viral on Youtube :) 

I decided to risk my eyesight and unbroken nose and jog a little (something I hadn’t done in over 20 years!). My husband then fell about laughing which made me all the more determined to keep going! and I have to say that I was completely stunned with the way the bra performed.

I felt encased (without having a bra that came up under my chin), I felt supported (something I NEVER thought I would get in a bra without an underwire and I looked good! All the boxes ticked!

Features include:

  • Contour, spacer fabric soft cup supports with semi-firm, light spacer foam padding for modesty and breathable comfort.
  • Cups shape by encapsulation rather than traditional compression.
  • V-shaped center front insert for maximum separation.
  • Inner slings extend to the shoulder strap to enhance support and prevent bounce.
  • Suitable for high impact activities.
  • Wide elastic underband for added support.
  • Racer back provides full range of shoulder motion.
  • Mesh panels provide breathability and comfort.
  • Wide, non-stretch padded straps attach to wide elastic straps that adjust in the back with plastic hardware.
  • Back coated metal hook-and-eye closure.
  • Padded hook-and-eye closure is great for mat work.
  • Smoother silhouette.
  • Fast drying coolmax fabric wicks moisture away and feels soft against the skin.

We have ordered this bra into store as part of our sports range and it has now been worn by women of varying sizes and they have all been delighted with the results. We have no hesitation in recommending this bra for women of all shapes and sizes and is ranged in store at 297 Ponsonby Road, Auckland in a 8 to 18 and C to H cups. Come on in and try it out!

Bra review- Curvy Kate Daily Boost

Curvy Kate- Daily Boost bra

I have been really slack in reviewing this bra but really wanted to ensure we had seen it on enough bodies to justify a non biased review.

Part of me was excited when shown this new style as there is a distinct lack of moulded balcony style bras in larger cup sizes and at the same time I was disappointed with the colour options as I personally completely dislike lingerie in nude, beige, skin tone (or any other name you choose to give this colour) and I am also not a huge fan of any underwear considered plain and practical. I was completely traumatised as a youngster being “made” to wear bras described above. It wasn’t that someone was being cruel to me- just that they were the only options available to me!

However I concede that on occasion sometimes we need a practical bra. Because I have never had a Tshirt bra previously I was incredibly curious when it arrived in store and I quickly popped into the changing room to see what wonderful things daily boost was going to do for my bust!

The colour looked as ugly on the body as I expected but that’s just my issue (we didn’t order this in white- another colour I dislike but we are looking forward to August deliveries of this in black).

The band was tight(er) than I would feel comfortable wearing it (I wear my bands very firm as I am a HH cup) and the cup was a small fit on me also (I needed a full cup up from what I normally wear) but I did wonder if a half cup would have been enough as I felt that once the foam had “worn in” a bit that I would have filled the bottom of the bra a bit better?

I did like the balcony shape as it’s a lower cut without being the plunge cut of Freya Deco (one of the top selling moulded bras on the market). The balconette shape and soft lined cups make this a much better option for me than the Deco.

This bra is great for nipple conscious women.

I didn’t feel that I was going to “fall out”, in fact I felt quite secure which is always a good thing when you are this size :) and my boobs were not under my armpits (east/west) which I have experienced with other moulded bra’s by some other suppliers. Whew! And…. no lines under my fitted top (something I have just lived with for far too many years).

The fabric is amazing on the body (a spongy foam that  cradles your bust and doesn’t feel to hot to wear as some moulded bras can), based on this I summarise: the comfort factor is above average, the style is great, the colours are yuk and the fit is below average.

 The nude bra has a white trim and is also available to order in white with a nude trim (Bravista- Lingerie & Swimwear does not have this as a stock line in store).  There are also coordinating briefs available.

Customers ask us if this a moulded cup. We say no as we feel a moulded cup is a completely smooth cup with no stitching/seams and as you can see in the picture attached there is stitching in the cup. The soon to be released Curvy Kate Smoothie bra will be Curvy Kates first moulded cup bra

I am getting excited about Curvy Kates Smoothie…hoping this is the ONE we have all been waiting for?! We have just had the samples in store and Alesha reports this as being a great bra so we are very excited to be ordering this in a stunning HOT pink colour also.

So after hating nude and white bras for so long the Curvy Kate Daily Boost bra has gone a long way to change my mind. I am however really holding out for the black colour up :)

Bra review- Cake Maternity seamfree lingerie

Cake Lingerie has added a soft seamless style to its growing range of maternity bras and we LOVE it!

We started ranging this luxury seamless maternity/nursing range approximately 6 weeks ago and we have sold out twice in this short space of time. I wish I could say this of all my stock!

 The Embrace Me line, which is designed for women at the most sensitive stages of a pregnancy, is described the first of its kind to offer a luxurious, seamless non-restrictive maternity and nursing bra with structure.

 “Heightened hormonal activity during the first trimester and preparatory stages just prior and post birth, can create symptoms of breast tenderness and soreness. Wearing a soft, comfortable, yet supportive bra is vital to your breast health’ says Tracey Montford, founder and designer at Cake Lingerie.

In the first weeks of pregnancy when your breasts are very tender and uncomfortable this bra is perfect for wearing as a sleep bra. In the first days post delivery when your milk is coming in this bra is perfect and at all other times during pregnancy when you just want to have no restriction around your diaphragm – this is your bra!

The one thing we don’t like about this bra is the colour options. Option 1: Grey. Looks like it started its life white and was washed with the darks.                 Option 2: Shell. A pale yellowy pink colour. Again looks like it started its life as a vibrant colour and at some point ended up looking like it does.

We joke with our customers about the fact that Cake has deliberately coloured the fabrics in these colours as the menfolk would have probably ruined them at some point in time by washing them with other colours (being helpful while you are busy with a new born), so they are just getting in first and saving them the time and effort! The good news is that Cake are looking at new colours for the next season and we have given our feedback on what we would like already!

Once you get past the fact that the colours are ugly and get the bra on, I guarantee you won’t want to take it off! The matching briefs are divine to wear too. Super comfy to wear over bump and post caesarean also. Seamfree and the softest fabrics.

A great investment for pregnancy and beyond!

 

One year on: Growing, learning, stumbling, celebrating

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In one sense it seems to have taken such a long time to get here, and other times, I wonder how on earth time can go so quickly (it does go at the same speed for everyone- right??). Our “baby” Bravista- Lingerie & swimwear is celebrating its first birthday. That’s right- We are one year old!!

We have learned more than I ever thought I didn’t know and we continue to learn from mistakes, bad choices and people who have been kind enough to share their wisdom and experience with us.

We stumble and even fall. And after we stop, swear, dust ourselves off, we inevitably get up again and get on with the business of learning and personal and professional development.

I am in awe of the people who seem to have all the answers to the questions (multitudes of them) that I have and possibly even the things I don’t even realise I don’t know….. I love the fact that some of these people offer advice to us fledgling business owners and even if the don’t offer the advice that they will give the information if asked. One day when we are hugely sucessful (the biggest chain of specialty lingerie stores in NZ?) that we too will offer a leg up to someone confused, lost or overwhelmed.

It has been both a pleasure and a priveledge to meet the customers who have become our regulars and friends. Thanks to each and every one of you for supporting us in our first year in business. We look forward to being your “local” for many more years to come.

No matter what direction the business takes I guarantee you will always have the same individual attention you receive now, the same friendly welcome you would get if you were visiting a friend and the same professional service.

We don’t want to change who we are, because we actually like who we are. We like the fact we are friendly, non judgemental, approachable and fun and that we remember our customers names (most of the time!).

In all seriousness, I’m just really grateful for this experience. I didn’t think it would turn into an experience, but it did. And it’s still going on.

Right now. I feel like I’m finally starting to understand what this whole business operator thing is about and the best part is getting to meet amazing people every day and be a part of something that will one day be GREAT!

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Maternity lingerie fittings- why you need to get this right!

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Firstly- Congratulations!!!

Maternity lingerie-

We hear it all the time. “I can’t find pretty Maternity Bras”, “Why does finding maternity lingerie have to be so hard?”, “I need some comfortable, affordable Maternity Lingerie to wear during Pregnancy”, “How do I know if my bra still fits?”, “when do I have to go in to a maternity bra?”

We don’t pretend we know the answers to these and many more questions regarding pregnancy and bra fitting during pregnancy. We actually know!

Did you know that you can be a certain size in one bra and be a completely different size in another brand or even a different style by the same supplier? It really does mean that you can’t shop off the rack or online and guarantee success. Savings maybe (as online stores don’t have the massive costs of a bricks and mortar store), but is it a false economy when you don’t wear the bra because it’s incomfortable or it’s damaging your breast tissue?

We are trained to fit lingerie which is exceptionally important during pregnancy and feeding. We guarantee the correct fit for you – personally (every woman is unique in many ways but particularly when it comes to boobs).

Women are all different shapes and sizes and then there is the other factors like shoulder width, length of your torso etc. Band size, cup size. Getting confused?? Understandable really, but do NOT stress (it’s not good for you in your condition!) when you come to have a fitting with the qualified fitters at Bravista Lingerie & swimwear you are taking all the guess work and stress out of it.

In summary: You want to buy bras that will fit and last through your pregnancy? You want someone to advise you of what styles are suitable for your needs? You don’t want to waste your money buying bras that don’t fit? You want to take the best care of your breast tissue during pregnancy and feeding? You want to be sure you are not damaging your breast tissue by wearing the wrong size bra?

Simple really. Go to a lingerie store that offers a fitting service with staff trained to guarantee you walk out with the best bra for you!

Bravista- Lingerie & swimwear has 4 staff all trained to offer professional fitting service and we are open 7 days.

 

 

 

What we’ve been up to….

As some of you will no doubt  be aware we closed the doors on our old store at 216 Jervois Rd, Herne Bay on Xmas eve 2011. We came to our new home ready to get started and open as soon as possible and despite endless enthusiasm and boundless energy it actually took us over 4 weeks to get open! We removed wall cladding from previous tennant to find that half the wall behind it came too as it was all so rotten. I had  the funniest day ever when I opened a door inside the store to find that it was raining on my head…..?? We had windows that had been hung upside down and inside out, roofing that had been patched with duct tape and so the list goes on, but I am sure that you are getting the gist of the disaster we had to deal with! (note to self- if we EVER move, get a builders inspection done!!)

After many weeks of exceptionally hard work behind the scenes we  are all but ready for our exclusive VIP “Boobs bras and bubbles” lingerie evenings and parties to begin again.

Planning is also underway for our 1st Birthday celebrations! Combined with a shop warming/grand opening party maybe? We are dying to show you our new store.

We are now located in between the music shop and Sierra cafe, at the end of Ponsonby Rd (down by Jervois Rd/College hill) in Three lamps opposite the ANZ and BNZ banks.

There is plenty of street parking either directly outside the front door (metered parking) or free 2 hour parking on Margaret street (off College Hill, parallel to Ponsonby Rd).

At present we are open 7 days as we were on Jervois Rd with slightly longer trading hours. We are now open 9.30-5 Monday to Saturday and 10.30-2.30 Sunday.

The store number has stayed the same on 09 376 4334 so please feel free to call me Inger on 027 267 2775 for your lingerie needs , to book a party, become a VIP or anything at all.

Evolution of a lingerie store

I got to thinking today about what I had in my mind when we decided we were going to take the plunge and open our own business in the specialty lingerie area of retailing and I realised how much the initial concept has evolved in the 5 months we have been open.

I did state (for the record) that I was prepared to adapt to meet the needs of the market as dictated by my customers. That is however in fact one of the understatements of my life to date!

We opened stocking 10 to 26 D to K, no hosiery and a very small range of swimwear……

A little way down the track we start at a size 6 and carry a consolidated range of larger sizes, are working hard to grow our swimwear range to accomodate the demand from our customers AND we have a range (albeit small) of lounge/sleepwear. We start at an A cup (in underwire and wire free) and hosiery is one of our most sucessful sub ranges.

And we continue to take on board what we are being asked for.

Whew!

When I start to wonder some days what I have achieved in the last few months I shall pop back and read this blog!

 It really is a lot of change to have achieved in a few short months and I am grateful that it is our own business and we do not have to answer to anyone (other than the bank manager and accountant?) prior to making the decisions we want, to ensure we are providing our wonderful customers with just what they need.

When I have 5 free minutes I may allow myself the luxury of contemplating what 2012 will bring.

I leave you with the following thought:

Happy Labour weekend everyone. Safe travels!

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