In November 2007, Swedish transplant Britt Cruikshank brought her love of European lingerie to her Cincinatti, Ohio-area home. With the support of her husband, Steve Cruikshank, she opened La Silhouette in Madeira; a 1,200-square-foot, two-floor haven of Europe’s finest intimates, sprinkled with select American luxuries. Today, Britt, Steve and Suzie Froikai maintain buying responsibilities, stocking the store with intimate apparel in sizes 32A through 44H, and XS through XL.
To complement its offerings, the interior of the two-floor boutique boasts “a French feminine boudoir environment, where one can sit, enjoy a glass of wine, a cup of a tea and always cookies,” said Britt. “I love to always have fresh flowers by season every week, just as I do in my home.” The store achieves a homey, non-threatening environment in which to browse intimates through warm colors and antique crystal chandeliers “that you might find in a home instead of in a store.”
Most-requested brands are Prima Donna; Marie Jo; La Perla; Wolford; Janet Woolrich; Verena; Francis Smiley; Feraud; Roesch; Oscar de la Renta; and Hanky Panky. Popular styles include bras by Prima Donna and Marie Jo; hosiery, tops and accessories by Wolford; thongs by Hanky Panky; and handmade gowns and robes by Jane Woolrich. Prices range from $18 for Hanky Panky thongs to several hundred dollars for select silk Jane Woolrich sets. Bras start at $30.
Although most of Britt’s customers are women ranging from their late teens to their late 80’s, many men also come in to shop for their significant others. To cater to all customers, La Silhouette surprises them with fresh, new and hard-to-find brands. And the customer service does not stop there.
“We are truly a welcoming store and will stop at nothing to make lingerie shopping a pleasant experience and not something to be dreaded,” Britt remarked. “While chatting and laughing we quickly find all the possible choices and bring them to the fitting room, so that the customer does not have to dress to do more searching. Our secret is that we are not intimidating; we know our stock and buy what our customers want. We really listen and pay attention to what our clients are telling us. Sometimes just as important is what is not spoken of.”
The retailer is currently re-vamping its website, and will launch it with a new look in early June.
While Britt is happy with her one-store operation and website, she dreams of making shopping for lingerie rewarding for women everywhere. “Someday I would love to expand into other parts of the country, maybe even franchising,” she said. “I dream of bringing what we have here somewhere else, where there might be ladies that are unhappy with their ill-fitting bras.”