Welcome to our Interview series, where we chat with inspiring and innovative female entrepreneurs who are empowering women and positively impacting their local communities. This week, we chatted with Christine Longette, owner of popular lingerie store Brazen Bras in Freehold, New Jersey.
Christine and daughter Angela of Brazen Bras
On Social Media
Parfait Team: What are your tips for connecting with your customers?
Christine Longette: It’s easy to connect with customers when you realize that you already have something in common. Whether it is the need for bras, or the love of lingerie, we have that in common with pretty much everyone who walks in.
PT: How do you reach out to potential customers in your local community?
CL: I personally try to attend as many local events and social gatherings as possible. It’s an opportunity to connect on a personal level outside of the fitting room. I also host in-store ladies night events where we’ll feature another local business and cross-market. These events are fun and allow the women in my community to have a fun night away from the house and learn about a new business and play dress up – which I don’t think any of us ever really grow out of!
PT: What works best for you for engaging with your customers?
CL: We’ve mostly been using Facebook, Instagram, and a quarterly email to engage customers. Different customers have different ways of interacting so using more than one method is the best way of reaching the biggest audience. We also have a texting VIP club that some customers prefer.
On The Lingerie Industry
PT: What is your favorite lingerie trend at the moment?
CL: I love the boldness of the strappy look that is currently trending. I love that it has become “cool” to show a little bit of what’s underneath. To be “Brazen” is to be unapologetically yourself and to have so much confidence that you dress for yourself and not to please others. It goes with our brand mission of empowering women. I think the strappy look embodies that message.
PT: Do you believe we will one day see women of all shapes and sizes in fashion magazines, movies, and throughout the media?
CL: We’re working hard to make that happen. We participate in 2-3 fashion shows each year that showcase local boutiques. When we choose our models we open up auditions to anyone over 18 years of age who is interested and we try to choose a variety of body types and sizes. Our lingerie is chosen to fit real women and to make them feel and look their best. That shows on the runway no matter what size they are and is very well received by our audiences.
PT: Where do you see the lingerie industry in 10 years?
CL: I see a shift in focus from big box lingerie shops to smaller privately owned and more personal boutiques. Buying lingerie is personal. Loud flashy ads and a large budget are great for bringing attention to the need and want for lingerie in general, but when you seriously think about going out to buy it, do you want an impersonal large shop filled with mall shoppers or do you want to shop in a boutique as unique as you are? Especially with gender fluidity and alternative lifestyles becoming more prominent, a privately owned boutique can be much more comfortable for those who don’t look like the ladies in the big box advertisements.
On The Challenges Business Owners Face
PT: What challenges have you faced as a business owner?
CL: Oh boy! What challenges haven’t we faced is a better question. Some were good challenges such as when the local newspaper ran a full-page article on us and we were overwhelmed by the response. We’ve also had some more difficult hurdles such as phone number mix-ups and moves that didn’t go as planned. Finding good sales staff is also always a challenge but I’ve been blessed with a great team of girls who love the business as much as I do.
PT: What are your tips for overcoming challenges?
CL: Just keep on going. Any obstacle can be overcome with persistence. Try to take something good out of it.
PT: What is most rewarding for you as a business owner?
CL: I feel great when a customer who may have been feeling a little frumpy and down on herself leaves with a bag full of new things in a surprising new size. She leaves with an air of confidence about her and you can see it in her posture as well as her outlook. It’s not uncommon for us to exchange hugs at checkout. The difference an undergarment can make in a person’s life is profound and so very rewarding to see.
On Success and The Importance of Role Models
PT: What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their business?
CL: Find out all you can by reading and talking to other business owners, then do your own thing. Don’t think that because your idea is a little different that it won’t work. Follow your gut and your dreams and go for it!
PT: Who are your role models and why?
CL: Wow! I’m not sure that I have a role model since I tend to swim upstream and do my own thing. I do, however, have a handful of women who I respect and admire for their accomplishments and their boldness. Britney Spears – for being unapologetic about her life choices. Tia Lyn – for being the designer turned boutique owner turned designer and for going out on a limb and designing something classy but sexy that is specifically aimed at the curvy woman. Cora Harrington “The Lingerie Addict” (who was one of the first women I met when I started out) for being so down to earth and personable while roving the world exploring lingerie and sharing her discoveries.
PT: What does success mean to you?
CL: When I go to sleep at night knowing that I made a positive difference in someone’s life, that is success.
PT: What your keys to success?
CL: Persistence. Integrity. Honesty. Humbleness.
On The Best Advice She Has Ever Received
PT: What's the best advice you've ever received?
CL: Don’t quit. Simple as that.
Christine Longette is the owner of Brazen Bras, a lingerie store located in Freehold, New Jersey.
Store Address: Chadwick Square Shopping Plaza, 3333 US Highway 9, Freehold, NJ 07728
Phone Number: 732-333-0259
Website: Brazen Bras
Check out our conversation with Christine about Brazen Bras here.