Q&A with Carol Stella & Sergio Hincapie
Ted Vayos, BODY: Describe your store for our readers.
Carol Stella & Sergio Hincapie: Located in the heart of Montclair, NJ, we are located on one of the most busiest and well-known streets. Our boutique is centered between Montclair’s many art institutions and theaters, including Montclair’s own art museum, the Montclair Art Museum, the Wellmont Theatre, and many of Montclair’s largest restaurants. We are only 10 miles from Montclair State University, which attracts a diverse demographic of both women and men. Upon entering our specialty boutique our staff makes you feel extremely comfortable. With the perfect lighting and romantic ambiance we have a boudoir inspired lounge area right outside our 2 spacious dressing rooms towards the back of the boutique. There is also a separate area in the back where all of our custom hand-made corsets are created. This area is filled with sewing machines, fabrics, threads and notions. Fittings are done in this area of the boutique where you can see the step-by-step evolution of your custom hand-made corset. Bras are merchandised by brand since each brand carries their own size range. This makes it easier for our staff to direct you once we fit your proper bra size. Products and Brands include a lovely selection of Bras & Panties by Besame, Leonisa, Parisa, Millesia, Leg Avenue & Carnival; Lingerie by Besame, Millesia, Adriana Arango, Leg Avenue & Carnival; Shapewear by Leonisa; Soft, Luxurious Robes by Wrap Up by VP & Besame; Sleepwear and Daywear by Adriana Arango & Besame; Children’s Sleepwear by Adriana Arango; Activewear by Adriana Arango; Maternity Bras & Panties by Leonisa; Hosiery by Leg Avenue; Shoes by Leg Avenue & Wanted; Men’s Underwear by Leonisa; Woman’s & Men’s Denim and a small capsule of ready-to-wear by Miss Me and Silver Jeans, Co.
Ted: What makes your store special?
Stella & Sergio: The romantic ambiance our spacious boutique pervades makes you feel sexy the moment you walk it! Every Customer (over 21, of course) is greeted with a glass of Champagne every Friday between the hours of 4 – 9pm. It is a relaxed atmosphere and we help make everyone’s fantasies come to life with the perfect custom corset and lingerie! We have a corsetiere who customizes corsets to your measurements and sews in-house. The design possibilities are endless while you watch it come to life! We also have trained and professional bra fitters, a broad range of bra sizes from 32B-44H and panties and lingerie in sizes XS-4XL. We offer brands that are impossible to find locally. Our boutique is clean, organized and easy to shop! The ceilings are high and the wood floors are always sparkling! If you weren’t “in the mood” before you walked in, our upbeat music will certainly change that!!
Ted: What do you look for in a brand?
Stella & Sergio: What’s important to us while seeking new Intimate Apparel brands are uniqueness and fit. We are a specialty boutique, not a department store. We only seek “special” brands that you can’t find locally. We believe comfort and support are very important for “everyday bras” but they must have a special detail that makes it worth the purchase. Most of the brands that we carry were literally flown in from Colombia because their attention to detail, style, fashion and beauty are extraordinary, while the quality in the manufacturing is superb! The only disappointment we have as retailers is that the bra size range is very limited in most of the Colombian brands. That is why we offer other brands such as Parisa who goes up to size 44H, while still retaining the fashion uniqueness we love!
Ted: Describe the popular styles or trends in your store.
Stella & Sergio: Waist Training Corsets and Cinchers are all the rage!! We can’t keep them in stock. Everyone wants an hourglass figure and our waist trainers help you achieve it faster.
Ted: Describe your price points and size ranges.
Stella & Sergio: Custom Hand-Made Corsets start at $400 and higher, they are life-guaranteed, and measured to your exact size. Off-the-rack Corsets are all under $100 and run from sizes Small - 4XL. Bras range from $25 - $145 in sizes 32B – 44H, depending on the brand. Panties range from $8 - $99 in sizes Small – 4XL, and most of our lingerie runs from sizes Small - 4XL, also depending on the brands. We offer Hosiery in both regular and queen sizes and our men’s underwear run from sizes Small – XL. A men’s boxer brief will cost you between $15 - $20.
Ted: What is your typical or average customer size?
Stella & Sergio: The most popular bra size is 32G. Even though Champagne Corsets & Designs has a very diverse customer base we are quickly learning the importance of a broad size range. Medium Bottoms usually sell out first!
Ted: What does the average customer spend per visit?
Stella & Sergio: On average $80 per visit.
Ted: Describe your customer.
Stella & Sergio: The majority of our customers are women, however many of their boyfriends/husbands shop along with them. Because we are in the center of Montclair, the age ranges anywhere from 20 – 60 years of age. About 10% of men shop alone, between the ages of 30 – 60. We are also noticing many of our customers are non-resident and finding us via web or social media.
Ted: What has impacted your store the most over the past year?
Stella & Sergio: Location is very beneficial for us since Montclair does attract a very diverse cliental from all areas of New Jersey and New York. Marketing ourselves in local newspapers and websites has helped us, along with social media such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter. We’ve donated Gift Certificates for Silent Auctions to the Montcalir Art Museum for their charitable events and we collaborate in cross-promotional partnerships with other local businesses.