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 Sam & Karla Youmans of Belle Lacet in Chandler, Arizona.
Karla Youmans of Belle Lacet via Facebook
On Social Media
Parfait Team: What are your tips for connecting with your customers?
S&K: I like to understand what the customer is looking for in a bra, what they like or don't like about their current bra and what type of bra they like to wear. Belle Lacet is located in AZ where it is hot most of the time so our customers almost always want light weight, seamless T-shirt bras. We do our best to accommodate them.
PT: What’s the secret to creating a memorable experience for customers?
S&K: My motto is to treat everyone with respect and know that just because they don’t respond to a post doesn’t mean they didn’t see it.
PT: How do you reach out to potential customers in your local community?
S&K: Social media, text, e-mails and lot of word of mouth.
PT: What works best for you for engaging with your customers?
S&K: Engagement is tricky because lingerie is so personal. We mostly use Facebook and Instagram but it’s rare when women open up publicly about something as personal as their bra. We do some emailing but there is a lot of spam out there and people are reluctant to give you an e-mail address that reaches them effectively.
On The Lingerie Industry
PT: What is your favorite lingerie trend at the moment?
S&K: J-Hooks and Plunge bras. The other trend that seems to be popular is the front closure bras with the decorative backs. However these are not available in the fuller cups (yet)!!
PT: Do you believe we will one day see women of all shapes and sizes in fashion magazines, movies, and throughout the media?
PT: Where do you see the lingerie industry in 10 years?
S&K: OFF LINE! If you have a good boutique in your hometown there is no reason to shop on the internet. Pricing is the same but customer service is soooo much better.
I also hope the lingerie industry better embraces the full busted woman. Since we opened Belle Lacet seven years ago and there have been strides made but there is still a lot more growth to be had. I'm happy to see it being addressed.
On The Challenges Business Owners Face
PT: What challenges have you faced as a business owner?
S&K: The greatest hurdle is getting women to know about us. Phoenix is huge and marketing is expensive. The other challenge is the internet and online shopping. The competition is immense. Bras are something that really need to be tried on before purchasing and most women come to realize that…eventually.
PT: What are your tips for overcoming challenges?
S&K: Life is full of challenges of all kinds. Stay positive. People want to be around other happy people so keep your chin up even when things are tough. Let your passion show. It’s magnetic.
PT: What is most rewarding for you as a business owner?
S&K: When customers cry! Often times our customers have searched high and low for bras and many times they gave up thinking it just wasn’t our there. When they experience a proper fitting they are literally moved to tears, I’m not kidding! It makes us all cry because that is what it’s all about. So much love. When a women leaves the store after that kind of an experience they always come back and usually bring a friend. It’s SO rewarding.
On Success and The Importance of Role Models
PT: What advice would you give to someone who is just starting their business?
S&K: It’s hard. It will take everything you have to keep it going. Everyone and everything will pull you in a different direction. Stay focused. Stay positive. Know who your customers are and what makes you unique and always remember your mission.
PT: Who are your role models and why?
S&K: Small business owners and Entrepreneurs that have made it past the five year mark. They are the Davids in a world of Goliaths.
PT: What does success mean to you?
S&K: A store filled with happy customers every day, sharing stories and experiences while shopping. It’s a great way to spend the day. If this is how I make a living it’s a pretty good world to live in.
PT: What your keys to success?
S&K: Be persistent and learn from your mistakes.
On The Best Advice She Has Ever Received
PT: What's the best advice you've ever received?
S&K: When we decided to open the store I remember telling a friend of mine about what we were up against and he said, “…You know it’s your passion that will make it a success…” and I didn’t fully understand that until recently. With all the competition out there it really is a dog eat dog world. So it’s all about your attitude. Have fun, stay positive and know that everything is going to be o.k.
Sam and Karla Youmans are the co-owners of Belle Lacet, a lingerie store located in Chandler, Arizona.
Store Address: 7131 W Ray Rd #5, Chandler, AZ 85226
Phone Number: 1 (480) 940-5455
Website: Belle Lacet Lingerie
Check out our conversation with Sam & Karla about Belle Lacet here.