In a couple of days I am flying off to Spain, my luggage filled with a pair of good walking shoes, sandals, a few skirts, dresses, and tops and my head filled with questions about the current state lingerie industry and ways I might improve and strengthen Jenette Bras. This yearly excursion is to attend the Empreinte Circle, a weekend of learning (and a lot of eating and drinking!) with a tight-knit group of independent lingerie boutique owners from around the world which was created and generously hosted in various cities by Empreinte nearly seven years ago.
In the group we have two shops that were established in the late 1800s by their great-grandfathers (one in New York the other in Stockholm) and two shops run by a mother and daughter team (Bavaria and Newfoundland). There are single location shops in small villages and major cities, multi-location shops with two, three, six, and even a Danish owner who has 19! We come from London, Antwerp, Los Angeles, Vancouver, Denver, Winnipeg, Edinburgh, Baltimore, Toronto – 18 members in all.
We talk about why pajamas sell like hotcakes in Denver, but not in Stockholm or Los Angeles; how best to spend our marketing budgets; whether online stores are worth the effort (everyone be honest!); thoughts on the next lingerie trend and when will the present one run its course, how to help young girls and older women embrace their changing bodies, and then the US contingent try to answer the perennial question from our European and Canadian counterparts: “…but why BEIGE?”
Over the years in Paris, New York, Morzine, Los Angeles, Cannes, and this weekend in Tenerife, we discuss strategies for buying just enough and not too much, supporting our employees through economic highs and lows, technology and heritage laces, how to focus on KPIs (key performance indicators) and less on ‘backfat’, our return policies, our pandemic-induced exhaustion, successes, frustrations, the inexplicable differences and the hilarious commonalities across this wide and varied group of lingerie store owners.
Then we drink good wine and break bread together. Vive la vie de lingerie!