Q&A with Nicole Prehn, founder
Ted Vayos, BODY: Describe your store for our readers.
Nicole Prehn: Sugarbums sells intimate apparel, swimwear and loungewear from dozens of iconic manufactures such as La Perla, Cosabella and Eberjey. Our store, very quickly, has become a place where our customers feel they can hang out. It’s a comfortable experience for both men and women in a category that can be anything but comfortable, especially for men. Our customers come to us for gifts, to mark special occasions, and also for professional advice and fittings for day to day. They always feel welcome and special here. I was looking for a place that offered great lingerie options across a range of brands, similar to a Sephora in cosmetics, and just wasn’t finding it. Sugarbums provides that for people – brands people love and a great range of choices. Boise is our home market. However, we weren’t really planning to open a physical store here. Downtown Boise is booming and when we learned of a great location, that fit well with our vision, we jumped at the chance to serve the Boise market. It’s been a great decision. We started Sugarbums earlier this year with our ecommerce site, which allowed us to establish relationships with the brands we wanted to carry, although our plan has always been to build a company based on a brick & mortar experience. Our strategy is to roll out across the US with stores in upscale lifestyle centers. The ecommerce integration is so important, since it gives people an opportunity to see what we have to offer before they come down to the store. We’re creating a place where a man can be comfortable shopping for a special gift, and where women can enjoy the process of discovery without the intimidating feel of an overly feminine environment. Our store is modern and sophisticated and we do our best to provide unparalleled customer service.
Ted: What makes your store special?
Nicole: Sugarbums is a combination of comfort and sophistication. Ours is a welcoming environment for men and women. We have a broader selection of top brands than most stores and we carry full size runs across intimate apparel, swimwear and loungewear. We’ve done a lot of research, in customer service, in merchandising and in creating a great experience. We worked with Design Packaging, Inc. out of Scottsdale to create beautiful packaging, from our shopping bags to our gift boxes with wax seal. We’re serious about the substance of our offering and brand experience.
Ted: What do you look for in a brand?
Nicole: Great, consistent quality paired with great value for our customers. Some of our favorite and best-selling brands include Cosabella, Ellie Moss, Splendid, Eberjey, Wood Underwear, SAXX, Hanro, Hanky Panky, Oye, Zimmerli and others. We also look for brands to enable us to offer a wide range of prices. We have bras from $40 up to $500 and panties from $20 to $200.
Ted: Describe the popular styles or trends in your store.
Nicole: We have a full offering of Lounge and Swim wear. Our loungewear has really taken off. We’ve sold a ton of Wood loungewear for men. Wood Underwear has an incredible price point. The brand is fun. It’s not intimidating. The feel is luxurious, and it’s a great value. Swimwear has been really big for us since our recent store opening as well. The combination of swim, intimates and loungewear for both men and women, I think, has been our magic. The mix of brands, styles and a broad range of price points and good value has been a huge selling point for our customers.
Ted: Describe your price points and size ranges.
Nicole: We have a full range of sizes and price points across our brands.
Ted: Describe your customer?
Nicole: Our customers, both men and women over a wide age range, are discriminating and sophisticated.
Ted: What has impacted your intimate apparel business the most since you opened?
Nicole: At launch, we sponsored an Academy Awards gift tent. The pre-event PR caused so much traffic to our new website that we crashed and were shut down. We had to scramble and become IT experts before we were ready. That event had the biggest single impact on our company to date and, like a lot of things in life, was both good and bad.