Eleanor Rose Lingerie celebrate their first full year of business at their 131 Chatsworth Road premises on June 9. To help mark the occasion, on Wednesday 8th June they will be holding a Ladies’ Fashion Show and Sale at Ashover Village Hall in conjunction with Blanc Ladies boutique – it promises to be a sell-out event so get your tickets early.
I met with Kat Houldsworth at the store (above Nonna’s) to see how things have been during their first year. “It has been a steep learning curve starting the business from scratch but we’ve had a great first year on which to build, and we now know so much more about what product, styles and sizes our customers are looking for.”
There is a huge range of lingerie at Eleanor Rose, something for everyone from the affordable to the luxurious. Brands include Bestform, Vanity Fair, Royce, Panache, Chantelle, Passionata, Marie Jo, Prima Donna and Aubade. There are bras for all occasions, maternity, teenage, post-surgery, sports, bridal lingerie and non-wired styles as well as a range of swimwear and nightwear. “We have a fabulous range of swimwear and accessories from Australian designer Seafolly, which includes beach bags, flip flops, sandals and shorts, plus a beautiful selection of beach kaftans from Mya Blue Beach” adds Kat.
“Prices for our bras start at just £22, which is in line with major high street brands but we can provide a fitting service that’s personal and unrushed” says Kat. “70% of women are wearing the wrong bra size, getting it right is so important because a good fitting bra can do wonders for ladies’ confidence, appearance and comfort. Our brands cater for sizes 28” to 50” back and cup sizes A to K, and if we haven’t got your size or colour in stock we can order for you to collect later or have posted.
“We take whatever time is necessary to fit our ladies and we fit using the actual products – we don’t rely on tape measures as sizes vary so much between brands and styles.”
Eleanor Rose was established by Katy Newman, previously from Royal Mail, and Kat Houldsworth who was previously in pub management. It was a completely new venture for them both. I’ve often thought about the idea of running a small shop but never made the move, I asked how Katy and Kat achieved it? “Katy had been thinking about setting up the business for a while after leaving Royal Mail and I was also looking for a new challenge” said Kat. “We decided we’d give it a try. It’s not been an easy job, you need to develop new initiatives all the time. We work hard to win every new customer – but it is very satisfying when that work pays off and you get positive feedback on the service you offer. We’ve learnt so much in this first year of business and we will be using this to understand where to focus our efforts in the coming months.”
As well as running the store, Katy and Kat are often out and about promoting their services to a new audience. They’ve recently been attending local gyms with their Sports Bra range “we do fittings on the day” explains Kat, “wearing a sports bra is so important for ladies who do regular exercise and we thought it would make things easier for them if we took the bras to them and it has proved really popular.
We also offer our own Ladies’ Evenings in store, where small groups of ladies are treated to a glass of fizz and a few nibbles, a short talk about the stock and a light-hearted look at the history of lingerie as well as a mini fashion show and an opportunity to shop. These events have proved really popular and we hope to do more of them in future – it’s a great way to get to know our customers personally and have a bit of fun at the same time”. Eleanor Rose are also trialling a service to pocket bras and swimwear for ladies who have had mastectomies with the aim of giving them much greater choice.
In October, Eleanor Rose will be supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month, one part of which will involve a display of “Bra Bunting”. They are appealing to any ladies not to throw away their old bras but to donate them to the shop. After the event the good bras will be re-cycled and sent on to Third World countries for re-use.
“We’re excited about the future” says Kat. “We look forward to the opportunity to meet new customers and invite people to come along to the store and take part in our events.
I like what Katy and Kat are trying to achieve, when I asked about online sales Kat pointed out that the products they sell need to come with the opportunity to have a personal fitting service, so the internet isn’t a major focus for them and it is an approach to business I find quite refreshing.
Words: Paul Chapman