Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Starting a Family with a Brand New 2 Year Old Retail Business

Matt (my husband) and I have been trying for a baby since the beginning of 2015.
Me and my better half, 2015.
I'm two years into my business and I have created a great foundation for my business, I have the staff I need (and LOVE!) that will allow me to step away for a couple months. Notice I said couple months? Business owners don't get paid government maternity leave, and to be honest I don't know any business owners that can be away from their business for a year, let alone have it run successfully without them.

New York trade show, Matt and I go twice a year to do the buying for the store.

Merchandise levels are good, clientele is growing every month, social media and marketing is taken care of by my new store manager, we are launching an online store commercial this month. I have crossed my T's and dotted my i's, as far as I can plan!
We really want more then 2 kids so age was starting to creep up. A lot of people think I'm too young to own a business let alone start a family (I still get ID'd for lottery tickets, which to be honest is more of an annoyance then a compliment). But I am almost 32 and its time to really start thinking about this stage of life!

Like I said in my last post, I am a planner. So to have a minimum of 3 kids with at least a year break in between we needed to start now. As most women know things don't always go as planned, so an early start allows for some problems to arise and hopefully still have 3+ kids before I hit 40.
The American family dream. White picket fence, 2.5 Children, a dog, working dad and a stay at home mom. Fast forward to 2016 and things are a little different now!
I do understand kids and babies can't be "planned", everyone tells me this... But its how I work and it helps give me an idea of what step I need to take next. I also understand I may change my mind after having my first child that I may not want as many children as I anticipate (haha). I've just always wanted a big family, the more people to love and the more people to love you back! Like my favourite saying from Moulin Rouge says "The greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return".

A big happy, loving family with a successful business to pass onto my children is what I dream of. Que the laughs, sarcastic "yeah rights" and "wait until your first". I'm sure I will read this back after my first and join you in those laughs, but hey, a girl can dream!

In March 2016 my husband and I found out we were pregnant. (Now 23 Weeks)

It has been a long journey to get here and now that we are pregnant it's time to put the real planning in motion!
Our pregnancy announcement

Saturday, 21 May 2016

My First Two Years of Business

As you can expect (or maybe not?!) The first two years of owning my business I worked upwards of 57 hours a week, 7 days a week. My first day off was 4 months after opening my store. PHEW!
What some may think, is that owning your own business allows you to have employees work for you any day you want! While that may come in the future, it certainly doesn't happen in the first year, and for me it is only starting to happen now into my third year.
My husband is very handy and does most of the work around my store. He helps make my visions come to life!
First of all finding a passionate employee that you can trust is seriously the hardest part of owning a business, even harder when you are only looking for someone to work 5 hours a week. When you start a new business, you can expect to be in the store 90-100% of the open hours, you usually haven't built a huge clientele yet so the funds coming in pay for your merchandise restock, rent, utilities etc. You are lucky if you are able to hire an employee to work more then 5 hours a week. I would rather that money stay in my business or be in my own pockets!
57 hours, 7 days a week really eats at you though and sometimes you need to do whats best for your body and sanity, for me I really needed to start taking 1 day off a week.
On went the search for an employee! Most people that applied for the job wanted full time or 15+ hours which was not doable for me.
Side note: Did you know an employer add on monster jobs costs $500+?! That was totally off my scale of happening at that moment.

I decided to ask friends and family if they knew anyone looking to work 1 day a week. I managed to have a friend who knew someone and she worked out perfectly. She was mature, hard working, good with customers and only wanted to work Sundays! YESss!

One of the first bras I took home with me, Marlies Dekkers! I still have it, wear it, LOVE IT!
Building a bookshelf in the background for my office, my husband doesn't do all of the handy work ;)

Then came the "BEST" part of hiring, TRAINING!

This was my first time training an employee in my store and the only thing she knew about lingerie was that she wore it and could never find a size to fit her! There was no hand book to follow, just my personal expertise. But being the owner you really take pride in your store and nothing gets missed. You want that employee to represent your store the way you do and treat your customers with the utmost respect and gratitude. You will never find anyone as passionate about your business as you are, but are damn lucky if you find someone who really cares about you and your business. ( I am proud to say I now have a fantastic team. It has taken me 3 years to build it, but my staff are AMAZING, fantastic... seriously amazing! )
For the first summer I took Sundays off from June - September. Then I closed Sundays through September-February so I no longer had an employee until the following summer (my second summer) when I hired two new employees and now took 1-2 days off a week. YAHOO!
Winter Hours: 50 hours, 6 days a week (just myself working the first 2 winters). A little break!
The first couple years I really pushed myself hard so I could kept putting the extra money back into my business instead of paying anyone else. I didn't spend much on advertising, I mainly used social media as my advertising tool which was (and still is!) big for us. We use the free events that go on in our downtown as a huge leverage, they are always super busy. The sound of music festival closes down our street and there are concerts going on directly in front of our store. So needless to say, we get a lot of foot traffic! We always have good window displays to draw attention, and also get involved in community fashion shows.

*Some advice to anyone who is a new business or planning on opening a business, understand that there are slow days, even for accomplished retail stores. Use those days wisely and update your social media and online presence. Its a free tool that every small business should take advantage of.

XOXO Brenna Finucan
Happily ever after, one of our bridal social media posts

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

My Journey to Opening my Lingerie Boutique

The journey to opening a business doesn't just involve a substantial savings in your bank account or a hefty bank loan. You need to have the education and background in the field to succeed...

Hi! My name is Brenna Finucan and I'm the owner of Lingerie D'Amour. Lingerie D'Amour is a gorgeous lingerie boutique located in Burlington, Ontario, Canada, which specializes in custom-sized bras and bra fitting. I designed the store and filled it with my hard work and passion... Ok my Husband may have helped (if he's reading this...)

Lingerie has been a passion of mine since fashion design college 13 years ago. I started designing lingerie in College because I love the feminine side to fashion and lets face it with out proper support and foundation even the most tailored top wont fit right. 

I am a planner and always plan backwards. I decide what I want to achieve and then plan my way to achieving it from end to start. Once I decided that lingerie was what I wanted to design, my plan was to work for La Senza, then move to Montreal to design for La Senza.

So there I was in college excited to begin my journey working for La Senza.

My notebook and name tag when I first started
at La Senza, 2003. Shown with a Heidi Klum bra
(sold at Lingerie D'Amour)
By the way, I applied to La Senza at least 5 times before getting an interview. Retail is not an easy job to land without experience, so I showed that I had passion and was eager. During my interview, with no retail experience, just a passion for lingerie and less than 1 year of fashion design college education, I told the manager my career goal was to design for La Senza! It was a high goal but I was right where I needed to be at that moment in time to fulfill my dream.

If my manager is out there reading this I want to say Thank You for encouraging me and believing in me; You were absolutely amazing!

It was that store manager that mentioned to me that La Senza paid for any education that would benefit the company, so I decided to take extra courses in bra design and corsetry construction. The college I attended did not teach those in the fashion design classes I was taking and it was absolutely crucial for my career plan to work.
The bra and corset I made in lingerie design 101. The details that go into making a bra and corset are unbelievable!

About 3 years of working for La Senza, I went into work one day and my manager had a printout of a job opening in the Montreal head office for an office clerk. She thought it would be great for me to get my foot in the door. Just finishing my college education, it would be perfect timing. So I applied for the job and had great references from my manager and district manager, but didn't end up going for the interview because I could not afford the move. With a student loan to pay off and a minimum wage starting position, it wasn't physically doable to rent an apartment and live in Montreal. 
I graduated from Fanshawe College with a 3 year diploma in 2006. College photos include, bottom right: pattern making 101 class with my best friend 2003, top right: technical illustrations class 2003, left: College graduation photo 2006

Hard decisions needed to be made... I knew I had to move on to get more experience in the industry so I wouldn't have to start at an office position in the company to work my way up. I stayed at La Senza for a few more years to become a team leader and bra fitting manager before I applied for a job at a lingerie design company in Cambridge, Ontario called Coquette. It wasn't exactly the high-end kind of lingerie I was hoping to design - it was more sexy lingerie - but needless to say it would be an amazing experience and a fantastic job on my resume.

There was a design competition (ELBOWS OUT) to get the job and it was narrowed down to me and one other girl (who ironically went to college with me and was in all of my fashion design classes). We both ended up getting the job and started our journey into the lingerie design industry.

One of my designs at Coquette. This photo was used
worldwide on billboards and other forms of advertising.
I designed top sellers that were seen on billboards worldwide and made front page covers. But after two years of designing, it started to get tough. I'd used all of my amazing designs for the first two seasons (in lingerie there are two seasons, fall/winter and spring/summer) and it seemed I had run out of designs. This was terrifying for me and a big red flag. It was stressful to not produce a design, sometimes to go a whole month without thinking of a winning design. It was discouraging - it made me feel like I was incapable of doing my job.

This put my whole career plan into perspective and made me rethink my whole plan. I wasn't enjoying design anymore but I still loved lingerie and everything to do with it. I wanted to stay in the lingerie industry but needed to find a new career goal. I made my way to the internet and searched Kijiji using words like "lingerie job", "lingerie design" and found a job listing for a sales representative job in Toronto. At this point I had no idea what I wanted to do with my career, but I knew I wanted to stay in the lingerie industry so why not try something new! There was nothing to lose applying for this job and I wanted to learn more about it.

My route while working as a sales representative. Long lonely
drives, I sometimes would drive 6 hours to one location,
then drive 6 hours home in the same day.

I ended up getting the job and left coquette, onto new adventures. This job was terrible! I had to drive across all of Ontario selling lingerie brands that, I later found out, didn't sell. I literally had to be a car salesman (which I was not!) to get clients to take on the brand.

I am very educated in the lingerie field. I could tell you how an item was designed, the fabrics and components, the design and fit. But I could not sell a brand that had a bad reputation. To be honest, I didn't like the brand myself - it was uncomfortable and itchy. The fabrics were terrible and the construction was cheap. It was a European brand that retailed at $120 - it was not worth the money at all. There were a couple other brands in swimwear and mastectomy that I sold that did well, but it was still a tough job having your boss breathe down your neck when you don't bring in a sale for the brand she is trying to sell.

So, given the facts that I didn't believe in the lingerie brand, plus I wasn't a pushy salesperson, I didn't do so well at this job, although I lasted just over a year...

BUT! I found out exactly what I wanted to do with my life!

About a month into the job I realized I wanted to own my own boutique just like the people I was selling to.

It would be everything that I wanted to do in the industry. I could be a buyer in the lingerie world, (hello! amazing!), I would be back into retail where my roots started and I absolutely loved, and if I ever decided to give designing a try again, I could carry my own brand in my own store!

I ate up as much information from my clients as possible. I asked questions and picked their brains and left out no detail. It was like a shining star that hung in my view for the next 3 years. My goal, and it was only a stone's throw away.

The last piece of the puzzle was finances.

I had my new plan, I had the experience, now I just needed the money. I took jobs at Boston Pizza and Kelseys serving and bartending, and saving up my money while making my plans for the next 3 years until I'd earned enough to open my store.

On March 1, 2014, I opened my Lingerie Boutique at 374 Brant Street in Burlington.

Lingerie D'Amour Grand opening day, March 2014

Friday, 29 May 2015

Empreinte Kaela Bra Review in 34E

“As close as you can get to a custom made bra”

Beauty and fashion combine with amazing support and quality in the Empreinte Kaela bra. Full busted women won’t have to sacrifice style to get an incredibly supportive fit, with gorgeous detailing.

The Empreinte is incredibly versatile and can be worn under almost anything in your wardrobe. Not only will the cup help you create and maintain your shape, but the detailing is beautiful and there are no unsightly seam lines. You’ll have a smooth, natural shape under a t-shirt and will still be able to show off some sexy cleavage in a clingy blouse.

A master of details, the Empreinte Kaela (like their other styles) is designed for both fantastic fit and style. It is possible to have both and the Empreinte proves it. The bra features intricate embroidery and delicate detailing, but not at the expense of comfort and support.


Empreinte is the only brand of bra that offers a well-fitting, seamless molded lace cup that lifts and pushes your breasts in for a minimizing and slimming look. Rather than enhancing your shape, other molded soft cups can create an unflattering wide, low-chested look. The cups are made of sturdy, durable fabrics, such as tulle, lace and microfiber, which ensure comfort and support. The rigid fabric is cut to create flat side panels. This pushes the breast towards the front of the bra, creating a flattering “up and in” shape. If you look closely to the pictures you can see the vertical internal seams designed right into the lace. The "seams" in bras are what give support pushing the bust up and in, empreinte designs their "seams" into their lace design so the bra is completely seam free with unbelievable support. 

Back material and straps

At some point, you’ve probably worn a bra (either the wrong size or well-worn), which rides up in the back. Not only is this uncomfortable and unattractive, it’s also unhealthy (check out our bra health post). The Empreinte’s fabric is a German material, made of lycra, not Elastane. The benefits? Strength, support and longevity. Even with regular stretching and wear, the fabric reverts back to its original size.

The straps are a wide set Chimney back, which helps the girls to stay in place and keeps the whole bra balanced. There is limited elasticity in the straps which supports the larger cup sizes and makes your bra last longer.


Do you have a love-hate relationship with underwire bras? You love the support they provide, but hate how uncomfortable they are when they dig into your skin? You’re not alone! Empreinte has designed the ultimate in underwire comfort. The wires are made of galvanized steel and covered in a recyclable plastic material. Then, there are four layers of fabric between the wire and breast. The wires are flat and designed to hold weight (more good news for full busted girls!) and won’t twist when you move. The wires won’t dig or move, but simply give you amazing support.

Why should you buy this bra?

       You have a wide/shallow bust
       You like detail on your everyday bras
       You like sexy, natural cleavage
       You need full support
       You love your natural bust size and don't want to add any volume or bulk
       You don’t want to compromise on quality, support or style


Comfort: Extremely comfortable, right from day one.
Fit: Fits true to size. Normal stretching with regular wear.
Look: Sexy, creates cleavage, pretty styling and sophisticated trim, with traditional bobbin lace edging at the neckline
Price: $162
Size Range: 30-46 C-G
Colours Available: Black, blush, caramel, muscade
Quality: The best quality you can buy! The price is high, but this bra is worth every penny
Fabric Content: 57% Polyester, 31% Polyamide, 12% Elasthanne
Overall D’Amour Grade: A+ Phenomenal comfort, support and style

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Why You Need Sexy, Feel Fabulous Lingerie

In our recent blog post, Bra Wardrobe Essentials, we talked about sexy, feel fabulous bras being an essential part of your lingerie wardrobe.

Now this is a category some ladies skip, but you shouldn’t! Here’s why.

Being a woman is something to celebrate! A woman’s body is a beautiful creation, no matter what your size, shape or skin flaws. It’s how we hold ourselves. Sexy lingerie is, simply, lingerie that makes YOU feel sexy. It doesn't mean lingerie that you only wear on a date. When you feel sexy, your attitude shows it, and what’s sexier than a body-confident attitude?

Women are gorgeous creatures with all different body shapes and we have a huge variety of options in lingerie. Lingerie has come a long way since the ’70s, and yes, it's possible you may need a lingerie specialist to help show you what is best for your body shape today.

What to wear?

Try a silk or lacy bra that hugs and enhances your body and makes you feel sexy, or a low plunge neckline, push up bra, sheer lace, bows, ruffles, or frills! Oh my! It might be as simple as a print and a higher cut panty that enhances your curves. Wear what makes you feel sexy and shows off your body best.

A matching panty is a must in my opinion with sexy, feel fabulous bras. There is nothing sexier than a matching lingerie set. Grabbing two pair of panties allows more wear out of your sexy, feel fab bras because when one is in the wash, you have the other to wear. It also keeps your panties looking new and fab, because we wash our panties more than we wash our bras. 

 Scupltress Chi Chi

Empreinte Grace

Wear it for yourself! Wear it for your man! If your man tells you he doesn't care about lingerie, I beg to differ. Show him option A and option B, men love a tease!

Why we need sexy, feel fabulous lingerie in our wardrobe

It’s not about the size you wear; it’s about how you wear your size.
When you feel confident about yourself, it shows in your personality. Your lingerie is your foundation to the clothing you wear every day. When you throw on a bra and panty that doesn’t flatter the shape of your body, or is old and worn out, you can feel frumpy and naturally your confidence goes down.
Remember, confidence is sexy! Body confidence is empowering; let’s teach our children, and
ourselves, to love our bodies. And you can’t teach something you don’t believe!

Freya Pansy

Your sexy, feel fabulous bra can be:
  • Something sexy: lace, coloured, animal print!
  • Something that enhances your body and makes you feel rockin’: this might be a high-waisted panty and bra set or a support bra set that gives your body a great silhouette
  • Shapewear: shapewear can be sexy! There are many options in shapewear - it doesn’t have to be plain beige. Shapewear not only helps smooth and perk up the body, it can create a vintage, pin-up look (so sexy). Try to get this set in anything but smooth microfibre beige; plain beige is a staple but most of the time isn’t very sexy. If you want to keep it practical, black is practical yet still sexy!
Sculptress Pure Lace

It’s always nice to have your sexy, feel fab lingerie in a set. Adding a matching panty makes it that much more sexy. 

Embrace being a woman and bring out your best body positive attitude. Embrace YOUR body and feel amazing in it!