In a series of interviews, yourbrandspace asks retailers all about their business, from stock to sales, and everything in between. This month, the company sits down with Michelle Grant-Richardson, owner and founder of Boutique 65.
Yourbrandspace: When did Boutique 65 open?
Michelle Grant-Richardson: We opened in April 2012 so we are just about to celebrate our second-year anniversary.
YB: What is the ethos of your store?
MG: Our vision is to offer women a special shopping experience in very comfortable surroundings. Importantly, our store, which is over 1,000 square feet in size, features smart and spacious changing rooms and seating areas for patient partners. We cater for a wide range of body shapes and sizes, which we refer to as ultra slim to fabulously curvy.
YB: Who is your core customer?
MG: Our core customer is aged anywhere between 12 and 92 and sized A-K cup, with a 28-44 back. Key to our business philosophy is our service and at Boutique 65 we have made an effort to make our store an inviting and comfortable place for men to shop for presents for their wives, partners or girlfriends. Everyone who enters our store will be warmly welcomed and helped when it comes to looking for the perfect underwear, whatever the occasion.
YB: What category of garments do your customers buy the most?
MG: We find that people mostly buy lingerie. We have swimwear on the shop floor all year round and people are starting to notice this. For us, nightwear seems to be seasonal. I think that swimwear is
bought very differently to lingerie, and most people will buy it online as opposed to in store.
YB: What brands do you stock and which are the most successful for you?
MG: Boutique 65 offers a wide number of collections from leading designers and brands from the UK, France and Italy. More than 20 different brands are stocked and we offer a highly personal and expert fitting service. Fauve, Mimi Holliday and Curvy Kate are our most popular brands. We also stock a whole variety of brands including Aubade, B’tempted, Fleur of England, Made by Niki, Gilda and Pearl, Shell Belle Couture, Dirty Pretty Things, Elomi, Freya, Chantal Thomas and
YB: Why do you mainly stock European lingerie brands?
MG: I stock a blend of everything, but truth be told, they are mostly British brands as I find they cater for the larger size lady.
YB: What do you look for when deciding which brands to stock?
MG: For us it is all about quality and colour, but mostly the variety of sizes available.
YB: Are there any key trends you will be buying into for AW14?
MG: I understand my customer and I usually buy with them in mind, I do not necessarily buy to trend but more to what I know I can sell. Sometimes it can be a gamble to take my customer out of their comfort zone.
YB: Are you looking for anything new/different at the moment?
MG: Yes, I’m keeping my eyes open for a men’s underwear brand and a teenage brand.
YB: You have done a lot of work to make you store inviting for men. How did you go about this?
MG: Firstly I mystery shopped other stores to find out what I didn’t like from a man’s point of view. I also also made the shop larger and added a sitting room for men, coffee machines, magazines and a TV. Then we made the whole shopping experience easier as we now have customer sizes on file and have wish lists for each customer, so the partner can come in sit down and have a coffee whilst we pull the items from the wish list. They only have to decide on the items we give them rather than looking through the whole shop.
YB: You also have an online presence. What additional challenges does this bring?
MG: We are currently building our online shop so we aren’t facing any challenges other than getting a transactional website up and live. Building a website does, however, take time to get right and cloning the experience of the shop can be difficult and takes time.
YB: Do you think people are as open to buying lingerie online as other items of clothing?
MG: Yes but I think they buy the size they think they are, where as in the shop the whole experience of being fitted correctly keeps bringing the customers back.
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