Does Victoria’s Secret have some real competition?
Introducing Journelle, the Versailles of all bra stores. Beloved by ladies around New York City, it’s known for its unusually lavish shopping experience, complete with complimentary Italian dark chocolate (as much as you want), silk curtains, plush dressing rooms, and a staff that (kindly) helps you discover that you’ve been wearing clothes incorrectly for your entire life. The point? Make lingerie shopping personal, polished, and painless.
The visionary behind the brand is NYC Member Claire Chambers, a down-to-earth Oregonian who fused two passions of hers: making women feel great about themselves, and starting businesses. Growing up, she was the kid who had a million startups: after starting her first dog walking business at age seven, she moved on to starting a print magazine at fifteen, which she sold every month to her sister’s college friends.
When she’s not changing the world of lingerie, you can find her upstate on her farmhouse, doing yard-work and tending to her horse.
Meet Claire, and learn her top insights!
Recognize the power of customer service
I’ve learned that women actually dislike shopping for lingerie a lot of the time. They come into stores prone to dislike the experience. They may have body issues, or perhaps they just broke up with someone—there are just a lot of negative connotations. Even if they like lingerie itself, people hate the shopping process!
The way to tackle this negative impression is through amazing customer service. My goal was to build stores that are really beautiful. People love the stores. We pioneered this big lush changing room with ambient lighting and water and robes. What makes or breaks the experience are the people who are helping you.
Tune out everyone else and focus on what you believe in
One of the challenges I’ve had is that a lot of people want to give you advice. When you’re doing something that no one has done before—like trying to reposition lingerie!—everyone has a different idea of how it should be done. Early investors used to ask: how are you going to sell it to men? But that’s such a small piece of my market. Other people told me for a long time to outsource our warehouse and customer care, and focus instead on what we’re good at. But what we’re good at is exactly what they told us to outsource. We own our warehouse, and we have our own customer care, and that’s our secret sauce. If we had outsourced that, we wouldn’t be what we are today.
At some point, if you’re deep enough in your business, you alone understand what works best. I was the one in the store, dealing with customers. One of best things you can do is figure everything you can learn from other people’s advice, then tune out everyone and focus on what you believe.
Wear clothes for your own benefit, not to please others
Oddly enough, I grew up in a really crunchy Oregon hippie family. My school uniform was a turtleneck and jeans and then a Patagonia fleece. There’s not a lot of fashion in Ashland, so the one thing I could do was to wear great lingerie underneath my clothes. No one would know, but I would know. That me feel confident and beautiful. It always surprised me that lots of women didn’t see lingerie the same way I did. They saw it as itchy, scratchy, or as something you only wear on dates.
I fundamentally believe that women just don’t connect with the message people are selling anymore. I want lingerie to be about women wearing it for themselves, not for anyone else. This doesn’t necessarily have to take a feminist slant—I just want lingerie to be something that makes you feel really great.
A message to IVY
Put on a great set of lingerie every morning! Feel like it’s a part of getting dressed, and who you are. Take care of yourself from within!
Claire Chambers in an IVY Member (NYC). Connect and collaborate with her here! To learn more about IVY, please visit www.ivy.com.
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