One business on the Kenai Peninsula has filled a gap in the market, and it’s a perfect fit.
Lea’s Boutique in Sterling, which started as a lingerie and adult gifts shop, has increased its target market after opening a an underwear department and certified bra fitting service.
An alternative entrance to the underwear department is available behind the building for clientele wishing to bypass the more risqué products found elsewhere in the shop.
Steve Stuber, owner of Lea’s Boutique, said it was important to offer quality products, particularly bras, which he said can help alleviate some physical problems.
“Bras are a lot bigger deal than most people realize,” Stuber said. “Proper fitting bras keep people from having neck pain, headaches, and upper back problems.”
Lea’s receives new products from brands such as Freya, Curvy Kate, Coquette and Elomi on a weekly basis.
To help women find the right bra size, Natasha Mallett, the store’s manager and certified bra fitter, is on hand to assist women.
“The big thing is, you can go anywhere to get fitted, but to be actually be certified to do it and do it properly (is another thing),” Stuber said.
Mallett, who was certified last March in New York by the lingerie company Eveden, said that most women she meets at the store have the wrong size bra.
“It happens all the time,” Mallett said. “Girls come in and think they’re 36 inches around and I measure them and they’re actually 32-34 (inches).”
Mallett explained that when buying bras, many women usually try them on over clothes, which can give the incorrect size. She said that she’s one of only a handful of women in Alaska that does bare fittings. Despite the intimate nature of bra fitting, she said people don’t tend to be nervous.
“I’ve been doing it for so long that I’m pretty good at making people feel comfortable,” Mallett said. “I’m behind you the whole time. The only thing I can see is your back.”
Lea’s has bras ranging from B to N cup, with band sizes 28 to 56 inches. Stuber said it was important to have sizes for all women.
“Bigger women want to be beautiful, too,” Stuber said. “You can be normal and be beautiful.”
Aside from bra fitting, Lea’s is always trying to offer more products and services, including boudoir photo sessions. Recently, the store has started selling sports bras, swimwear and maternity bras, while breast pumps will be available in the future.
“It’s been a way for us to be a good service to the community,” Stuber said
As far as what the future holds, Stuber said he hopes to open a Lea’s Boutique in Anchorage with shops in Wasilla and Fairbanks to follow later. In order for his products to stay cheaper than the same ones online, his profit margin is smaller, but Stuber says he can make up for it with customer service.
“If we take care of people in the right way, the money will be there,” he said.
Reach Ian Foley at Ian.email@example.com