In a series of interviews, online showroom yourbrandspace asks retailers all about their business, from stock to sales, and everything in between. This month, the company sits down with Kirsty McAspurn, owner of Essex-based Curvature Boutique.
What is the ethos of your store?
I aim to cater for all women, in a comfortable environment, with a friendly attitude and fabulous stock.
Which brands do you stock and which are the most successful for you?
We stock Bassoni, Bluebella, Boobs and Bloomers, Got Wood, Legwear International, Little Minx, Parfait, Roza, Ruby and Sweetling. The corsets are brought in from the US and aren’t branded. To be honest, I have found that all the brands are popular, as they aren’t available on the high street. I am also chuffed to be the only stockist of South African brand Ruby, which has also been selling nicely for me.
You stock up to a K cup – is there a big demand for large and small bras?
I think as large-cup bras are more easily available, as well as being more trendy and affordable nowadays, large-cup bras do sell well. But, I have just had a run of people asking for small-back and small-cup bras. It can change on a week-by-week basis.
How do you find the space to stock larger-cup bras?
Unfortunately, due to pure amount of sizes available in larger sizes, it is impossible for me to purchase as many large-cup ranges as smaller-cup collections. However, in order to try and cater for as many customers as possible, whilst providing new stock and variety, I buy fashion ranges for large cups in my core sizes, and I order in any requests for cup sizes I haven’t already got in stock.
You also offer teen bras. How important is it for retailers to cater to this market?
I feel that teenage bras are largely under represented. Girls should get used to checking their bra sizes from a young age, as fit is just as important then as it is when you grow older. Likewise, I believe that teenagers should be able to enjoy fun, matching underwear as well.
And you stock menswear. How has this gone down with your female customers?
The ladies love the menswear – It doesn’t take up much space in the store, and is a fun style that they are attracted to. It has been a very good investment for me.
Is there a difference in the way you sell women’s lingerie and men’s underwear?
Primarily, I sell lingerie and corsets. That is the main reason that people come into the shop. The menswear is an added extra sold at the end of a transaction, normally. I try to gauge what each customer is after and then tailor the service to what they need, rather than having a set routine.
What do you look for when deciding which brands to stock?
I look for individuality, something unusual and practical, and I take note of the price as well. I believe customers come to boutiques to find something different, as well as for the service that they receive.
Are you looking for anything new or different at the moment?
I always have my eye out for the next set that makes my heart stop, and makes me think ‘I must sell that’, but I have been spending a lot of time looking at maternity and nursing bras, as I feel that they will also go down well with my non-wired ladies. I have also just started stocking a small range of nightwear.
Are there any key trends you will be buying into for SS15?
Not specifically. I stock collections that I would like to wear, and my customers seem to respond to this.
How do you engage with your customers to keep them coming back to the store?
I like to chat with my customers, not just about the lingerie, but in general. Customers hopefully feel comfortable in my store, and, when I talk to them, I can really find out what they are looking for so I can suggest things that they might not have thought about. I try and remember my customers as well, and ask how they have been since their last visit, how they got on with the sets they bought etc.
What is the biggest challenge you are facing at the moment?
My biggest challenge is two-fold. Marketing in the right place, in order to raise awareness of the shop, is always a primary goal. However, I am also conscious of letting people know about the teenwear. Putting the words teenager and boobs in the same sentence seems to come against a lot of closed doors. But I always keep my eyes and ears open for an opportunity, so I am sure something will come along and help me with both challenges.