Friday, October 24, 2008

The bridal lingerie is not for me...

Last week I went to get my hair blown out at my local salon. I forgot my typical business books, magazines, and how to start a lingerie business for dummies guides and was forced to read the supplied beauty rags. I was too slow and unwilling to fight for a withered Glamour from 2006, so I took the only mag left: NY magazine, the wedding edition. I flipped through the pictures of couples getting married at the Central Park Zoo, the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, the Natural History Museum. One couple even had the balls to shut down the meat packing district so they could wed on its cobble stone streets.

It was the black and white pics on those cobble stone streets that did it. I started to cry. Hysterically. Under the dryer.

Perhaps this happens all the time to NY women or maybe the ladies in the salon decided to take pity on me. Everyone kindly ignored me except for the owner of the establishment, who brought me a tissue, patted me gently on the shoulder and told me I had 10 more minutes until I was dry.

Somedays I cant decide if this business is the reason I am alone or the thing that keeps me from feeling lonely. It takes up a lot of space.

Sometimes I can't remember if this is really my dream or if it is just the backup plan to a dream defferred. The emotional equivalent of adding something to a "to do" list just so I can have something to check off.

Today I am tired. But everyday cant be rainbows and puppies.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Web Design: Quick to make a decision, Slow to Spend Money

Over the last 4 months, I solicited 10 different price quotes from web designers and developers to build From the recommended, the unknown and the infamous, I was quoted anywhere from $3500 for a complete e commerce site built from scratch to 15k+ for just logo design. Each one told me how I could not live without wish lists, pagination, dynamic product reviews and all this other stuff I had never heard of. Each additional suggestion was additional $$$ and an additional headache. After awhile I no longer knew what I needed and what I could do without. I had absolutely lost the ability to prioritize.

I had web designers telling me the most important thing was how the site looked ("No one will buy anything if the site looks a mess"), web developers telling me that site functionality was paramount ("no one can buy anything if the site does not work"), publicists telling me that press mattered above all else, ("no one will buy anything they have not heard of"), and lingerie manufacturers who had their hands out (hard to sell anything if you do not have a PRODUCT). Not to mention a few things called site hosting, e commerce platforms, search engine optimization, and search engine marketing. These people were making me tired. I ran out of breath just making a list of things to do.

But research and desperation have led me to two things that are going to make my life a lot easier: Volusion and Alondra. Sound like super heroes don't they? The former is my e commerce platform that provides all of the fancy bells and whistles of a great online store (zoom, the ability to integrate any of your product offerings onto facebook/ myspace/ etc, and coupons) at a great monthly price. The store comes ready to go, you just upload your products. My second great find is Alondra, my new web designer who will be manipulating Volusion's templates so that my store looks anything but standard. She is quick, gifted, and from what I 've heard, beautiful. Everything I am looking for in a savior.

Two more obstacles avoided... One million more to go.

Dames and Broads

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Packaging Woes...

These are tough times. Any non essential item is a luxury and any person who spends their hard earned money on luxuries should be treated like the most valuable customer in the world...

I wish my packaging vendor, US Box, felt the same way. In the last 3 weeks, they have sent me (and charged me for) the wrong samples, given quotes on the wrong products not once but 4 times, and have blamed it all on my inability to effectively communicate. Now, I am no Barack, but communication has never been a problem for me.

When I referred to the emails proving my sanity and their ineptitude, I was told they will send me my new samples for free. Except that I have to pay for shipping. And shipping is 13 times the price of the sample.
and "please be clearer in your email next time..."

I wanted to clearly reply what they could do with their boxes... but they are one of the few vendors who can reproduce my logo on custom pillow boxes. The owner is an ass but as of right now his price is the cheapest. But the salesperson in me wants to walk. Curse him out in my uppity way ("Clearly sir you do not deserve my business. Now, GOODDAY,!!!"). Take my
money elsewhere, where someone will treat me like my pennies matter.

But my customers deserve the best. They will choose to give me their money instead of countless others and they should feel like they are receiving a gift every time they order. So I will bite the bullet, swallow my pride and pray that this time I can clearly communicate my order.

But one more mistake and I will scream and people might be receiving panties in a paper bag.

Please let me know if you like the packaging and think it is worth the drama.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

An Open Letter to Hanky Panky--- All in good fun

Dear HP,

I hate to hate. Really I do. But someone has to tell you for your own good. Somehow in your rise to glory, you have become passe. There, I said it. Yes, you are the Tory Burch Reva Ballet flat of thongs, the Magnolia Bakery of underwear, the wedge heel of panties. I am officially over you.

Your ubiquitous presence haunts me. There you are mocking me in every sample sale's community dressing room, on the lips of every d list celebrity. Parading around as a fresh young thing, when you are older than me!

The other girls may fall for it, but I know better. Pumpkin, Waterfall, and Denim are not acceptable colors in my lingerie wardrobe. I am thirty years old for chrissake!

And when did nylon and cotton become all the rage??? Whatever happened to silk and satin? (see pic)

It's ok, HP. It's your time to shine. But I just wanted to let you know, that there will soon be a new kid on the block.

But you are not all bad. Is your PR director looking for more work??? :) :) :)

dames and broads

Thursday, October 9, 2008


"Courage doesn't always shout. Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day that says, "I will try again tomorrow."--- UNKNOWN

So traveling to Brazil to search for a lingerie manufacturer did not produce the results I thought it would... After scouring the city for 4 long, rainy days, I did not find anyone who was willing to work with me, the US dollar and my size Ds.

I have to admit I felt tired, drained and defeated. I was ready to throw in the towel and return to my normal life and hideous nude bras.

But my girl, Monica, told me that if I am going to make it, I have to be ready to adapt. The point was to bring to market affordable, wearable, but sexy bras and panties and by god, wild horses could not keep me from it... After all, they say evil triumphs when good women do nothing...

The Brazilian trade show showed me that there actually are many high quality yet cost conscious lines that we Americans have been deprived of simply because of our geography. The problem is that only a few pieces can actually be worn underneath clothes. In fact, some of the sets made me wonder if Brazilian women ever put on anything at all over these elaborate devices. No wonder thousands of men endure 10 hours in coach just to lay eyes on these creatures...

But every once in awhile I would stumble across a miracle (like the one pictured). Pretty little things that could actually be worn by mere mortals. I wondered if there were similar products in other parts of the world. Then I wondered, would I would be willing to traipse all over the globe to bring these items to American women? Yes, yes I will.
The saga continues...

Dames and Broads Version 2.0

Thursday, October 2, 2008

B is for Brazil, B cups and Business Plans

A few weeks ago, I went to Brazil in search of a manufacturer who could produce affordable, wearable, and gorgeous lingerie. Yes reader, I know, I am doing the lord's work.

My plan was simple (though not particularly well thought out): fly to Sao Paulo alone, attend one of the top Brazilian innerwear trade shows and canvas the entire manufacturing district until I convinced one of the dozens of lingerie manufactures to produce my line. God this will make a great story for Oprah, I thought. It would have been ambitious for anyone to undertake but when you couple this with the fact that I spoke no Portuguese and intended to do it all over the course of four days, it becomes clear that this mission was entirely based on faith.

You see, not only were the cards stacked against me, I had been warned. I attempted to hire an apparel specialist and a translator from the US Commercial Service in Brazil and was flat out rejected.

"There is no market for this. There are several manufacturers in Brazil (A LOT... TOO MANY), but no company would work with the US designs for lingerie. Several US companies tried manufacturing lingerie here to re-export because Brazil is well-known for its manufacturing in this field, but it rarely worked out because the designs are very different from what is used and produced here."

The game seemed to be over before it began. Discouraged and traveling alone to what the NY Times calls "the most dangerous city you will ever love", I began to realize what a suicide mission this was. So I decided to seek help from higher powers. I prayed and sent out a mass email.

Subject line: Solo to Sao Paulo

And miracles happened (who knew the lord has Gmail?). My brother who owns a bed and breakfast in Bahia, suggested I call a Samba dancer he knew. She just happened to be a costume designer for the Philadelphia Opera, spoke fluent manufacturing and apparel Portuguese and owned a home in Sao Paulo. She agreed to accompany me to SP, without ever meeting me,...FOR FREE.

My girl, Khadeja, called a college friend now living in Sao Paulo. He agreed to take me in. Also without ever speaking to me. also for free.

And so I went. And after many Nos, crazy looks, and discussions about how the US Dollar was now relatively worthless in Brazil, we actually found some people who were at least willing to speak to us. I could almost see Oprah’s couch in front of me.

And that is when I was told that Brazilians only makes B CUPS. Yes, you read me right. They have somehow convinced an entire nation of voluptuous, plastic surgery loving women that they are all Bs. How can I make a product I cant even wear?

Jeez, I guess need to work on plan B…