Seven months ago, cousins Wendy Ferrulo and Melinda Wojcieszak decided to do something about the lack of lingerie shops in their area.
When the opportunity to lease a shop presented itself in October 2008, the duo, armed with entrepreneurial spirit, and "a solid grasp on the socioeconomics and culture of the customers," opened the doors to the 600-square-foot boutique Bloom Lingerie in Hingham, Massachusetts, about 30 minutes south of Boston. Their goal was to bring a fashionable, full service lingerie boutique to women of all ages, shapes and sizes.
"Until now, men and women had to drive to Boston and beyond for luxury lingerie," Wojcieszak, a former floral designer, said about her first venture in intimate apparel. "We offer a local chic, yet inviting setting where customers are treated to a refined level of service and expert fitting."
Ferrulo and Wojcieszak are the store's sole employees, and maintain all buying responsibilities. According to Ferrulo, Wojcieszak brings the creative side to the boutique; while she, with her corporate background, brings expertise in customer service and business. The two attended this February's CurveNY tradeshow.
Although Wojcieszak described Bloom’s typical customer as a size 36C, the shop is stocked with bras for one and all in sizes 32AA to 44HH. Prices range all the way from $10 for B.tempt'd panties to $750 for cashmere kimonos by And God Created Woman.
Top-selling brands are Hanro, Wacoal and Chantelle, with And God Created Woman also selling well. Wojcieszak commented about the brands: "the product just sells itself and customers are thrilled to see it in a local store." Although the majority of the shop's merchandise is for women, they do carry Hanro's boxers for men.
According to Wojcieszak, Bloom's primary customer base consists of well-educated, physically fit, upper middle class to affluent women aged 35 to 55 shopping for themselves and each other. She added: "They are typically looking for fashionable and comfortable lingerie and are very aware of quality and fit." High school students and senior citizens also frequent the store, and men are "slowly but surely" venturing inside.
Typically, customers spend $100 to $150 per visit on a bra and panty set or loungewear by Hanro, which is also popular. Bra fitting, the cornerstone of Bloom's business, is offered to every customer who walks in.
Wojcieszak said she utilized her design background in coming up with the store's design, which she described as "inviting, chic and elegant with a splash of sexy." The layout is based on the store's logo, which Wojcieszak's son designed before Bloom was opened, and which she described as "floral, feminine, classic and strong."
"I always start with color and the feeling it evokes," she said about designing the store's interior.
According to Woijieszak, Bloom sets itself apart from local competition by offering a high selection of top-quality lingerie, knowledgeable sales help and a welcoming atmosphere.
To keep sales up despite the recession, Bloom networks with other local businesses and charities, develops coupons and buying incentives, and, first and foremost, strives to maintain excellent customer service.
Additionally, Wojcieszak and Ferrulo recently hired a public relations person, and have received increasing visibility through local newspapers including the Boston Globe Magazine, the Town Gazette, the Hingham Journal and the Patriot Ledger.
"Lingerie and women are subjects that make for a rich story," Wojcieszak commented.
Bloom Lingerie is located at 61 Water Street, Hingham, MA, 02043.