A frustrated Jennifer Epperly noticed an absence of a personalized and professional bra fitting service in her town. Thinking many women were also struggling with the same issue, she decided to provide a solution by opening Sophisticated Lady Boutique on September 17, 2007 in Murphy, North Carolina.
"I started this business because there is nothing like it in our town," said Epperly, who used to drive two hours to the nearest mall to find quality lingerie. "My daughter and I were having a hard time finding quality bras and someone to help us find the right size, so I decided we would offer personalized and professional bra fitting."
The 1,200-square-foot store has a fitting specialist on staff at all times and offers an assortment of high-quality lingerie and sleepwear to its customers, including brands such as Affinitas, Spanx, Fayreform, Wacoal, Nitesweatz, Shirley of Hollywood, Bamboo Nights and Anita.
Currently, the most requested items at the store are Spanx's higher power high-waisted power panties and corsets of all colors and styles. Affinitas is also a brand that does well, but Epperly explains the brand leans toward a younger clientele, so they are not her biggest line because her primary clientele are career women aged from 35 to 75.
Lace bras are also very popular at Sophisticated Lady and Epperly is an avid fan herself and even talks to her customers about the advantages of wearing lace bras as opposed to t-shirt bras. "After I talk with my customers and tell them the benefits to a lace bra over a t-shirt bra, they are amazed and when they try a lace bra on and notice how well it fits and supports, they buy one every time," she said. "I do sell a lot of t shirt bras, but lace has been a better seller for me." Bra sizes are available from A to K. Epperly's customers tend to shop for lingerie four times a year and spend an average of $75 on each purchase.
In the current depressed economic state, Epperly comments on what she is looking for in a vendor at this present time: flexibility, sales and smaller order amounts.
Epperly takes pride in the service she offers to her customers and she outlines her formula for success as such: "It's all about knowing the product and listening to your customers needs and concerns," she said. "Sometimes they are not sure what they want, they are just so frustrated because they can't find a good fitting bra. So when I take time with them and let them try on several different styles and sizes, they are so excited and relieved."
Epperly also maintains a successful business the old-fashioned way - through grass roots marketing. She makes a point to remember customers' names and also sends cards when they are ill.