Q&A with Claire Chambers, founder & C.E.O. of Journelle
Number of stores: 4
Locations: New York City and Miami Beach, Fla.
Typical square footage: 1,800
Year opened: 2007
Ted Vayos, BODY: Describe your store.
Claire: Journelle is for the woman who has outgrown Victoria’s Secret. Our beautiful, sophisticated stores bring together a carefully-crafted selection of designer lingerie and a level of customer service, knowledge and empathy that is rare these days. The robes, chocolates and Evian water in our spacious dressing rooms make our customers feel comfortable and pampered, which we feel is imperative when shopping for something as intimate as lingerie. We carry everything from T-shirt bras to gorgeous bra and panty sets, from comfortable pajamas and robes to slips and shapewear. We are constantly receiving new products so customers can be sure to find something new each time they shop with us — no matter how often that is! We also have a great selection of wardrobe solutions — NuBras, fashion tape, bra converters, etc. — that help our customers look good and feel confident in even the trickiest of outfits.
Ted: What makes your store special?
Claire: Journelle is special because of the great selection of styles and brands that we offer, but also because of the atmosphere in our stores and because of our knowledgeable and friendly staff. We realize that people can go to other lingerie stores or to department stores, so we work hard to make sure the customer experience at Journelle is above and beyond what is found at other stores. It's always a priority for us.
Ted: What brands are important to your store?
Claire: Every brand that we carry is important because it helps to create the unique mix of lingerie that we offer our customers. In terms of bestsellers, Elle Macpherson, Chantelle and Eberjey are definitely three of the most popular (and high-volume) brands we carry.
Ted: Do salespeople make a difference?
Claire: We've found that educating our sales team on the story and details behind a brand go a long way towards helping them recommend the right products to customers — and that when they are educated, they share the story of the brand in a way that creates a real connection with the customer.
Ted: Describe popular trends and how they may differ between locations.
Claire: This season, we're loving the long-line trend that's continued from earlier seasons and evolved in a great way. Bustier bras from Stella McCartney, for example, absolutely vanished. Between stores, we see some variation — for example, our SoHo customer is most open to new, edgy brands and doesn't take as well to more precious styles from brands like Passionata — but our bestsellers remain the same throughout our business. Aside from that, in Miami we carry swimwear and have been successful with great statement bikinis from young designers — women down there love to have the most unique bikini on the beach.
Ted: What brands are customers asking for by name?
Claire: Customers tend to ask for Chantelle and Elle Macpherson for basics, as well as Cosabella and Mimi Holliday. We also frequently are sought out for our collections of New York designers like The Lake and Stars, Araks and Ari Dein. When they are looking for something a bit more special, La Perla is often mentioned, especially by men.
Ted: Describe your price points and size ranges.
Claire: Our price points span a very wide range. We have Hanky Panky thongs for $18 and the Timpa Duet Lace Underwire Demi Bra for $36, but we also carry Jenny Packham pieces that run upwards of $1,200. We try to make sure that we always carry at least a few products in our store that are accessible to everyone, regardless of budget. In fact, one of the things that we often hear from customers is that our stores look more expensive than they are. In terms of size, we have pieces ranging from 28A to 40E, depending on the brand, but our focus is on sizes 30 to 38, A to G.
Ted: What is your typical or average customer size?
Claire: Our average customer is a 32D.
Ted: What does your average customer spend per visit to your store?
Claire: The average customer spends about $150 per visit.
Ted: Describe your customer base.
Claire: Our customer base is definitely mostly female, and we have teenagers coming to us for their first real bra as well as women in their 70s stopping by. The majority of our customers, however, are probably women in their late 20s to early 40s. She's intelligent, stylish, professional, takes care of herself, and probably is in the middle of a good book!
Flagship address: 3 E. 17th St., New York, NY 10003