EMERGING ENTREPRENEUR: Offering Something Special for Every Woman
When you’re an entrepreneur, you have the passion and drive to write your own story. It’s not a question of why you should start your own business; it’s a question of what and when. Lauren Palmer, owner of Curvaceous Lingerie, may not have known she was destined for greatness, but something inside of her has propelled her forward. In fact, it took the unsuspecting, familiar voice of a friend to give her the idea that would kickstart her now successful and growing Old Town Lansing business.
“Lingerie wasn’t my idea originally. My friend and I were shopping in Cincinnati at a small boutique, and it took us over an hour,” explained Palmer. “My friend said to me, ‘You could do this,’ and I said, ‘Absolutely, I could do this.’ My background was actually bridal salon management and consultation, women’s ready-to-wear purchasing and formal wear, merchandise management, etc. When I got home, I started writing my business plan.”
That pivotal moment was in April of 2012, but she’s spent most of her life working in the bridal and lingerie. Palmer’s first job as a bridal consultant at age 16 solidified her career path — It was back then that she knew she wanted to have her own store.
Palmer earned her bachelor’s degree in merchandising management from Michigan State University in 2005. She studied abroad in Russia and Poland in 2014, briefly comparing their retail industries. Then in 2008, she earned two yoga-teaching certifications and started a DBA as Sundog Yoga, acting as a teacher and therapist. She was recruited as a business and product consultant in 2012 for a yoga and disc golf store in East Lansing (no longer in business) and witnessed the process of opening a retail location.
In November of 2012, Palmer opened Curvaceous Lingerie, operating as a mini boutique inside of the Okemos-based bridal salon, The Wedding Bell. In June of 2014, after outgrowing the existing space, she moved her business to Old Town. Curvaceous offers professional bra fittings in sizes varying between 28-48 bands and A-O cups. Inside of the bright violet pink boutique, shoppers will find delightful products from lingerie, shape wear, swimsuits, nursing and maternity, pajamas and more in sizes small-3x. Bridal and boudoir consultations are also available.
The company itself has seen its sales double from 2015 to 2017 and is up 857 percent since its first full year in business. The physical square footage of the store tripled with the Old Town move, and in 2016 another 350 square feet was added.
When asked what she most attributes to her success, Palmer said, “It’s offering a product that almost everyone needs in combination with very strong, positive messaging and product availability that can serve everyone. We treat all our customers as celebrations when they come in. We want them to have a fun, positive and uplifting experience.”
Palmer is thankful for the loyalty of her customers and the referrals they make.
“It can be a personal experience for our customers. When they come in, they are nervous to come in for a bra fitting. For a lot of people, they are at the end of their rope and don’t know what else to do. They’ve heard from their friends and coworkers that ‘it will be fine … they will take care of you.’”
Palmer has four employees on her team, including one manager and three support staffers, that take care of their customers. “It’s their lingerie store. We’re here to empower every woman, to make her feel sexy and great about herself,” said Palmer.
In 2015, Palmer received the Ten Over the Next 10 Award given by the Lansing Chamber of Commerce and Grand River Connection. She is a member of the ATHENA WIN women’s organization and co-chair of the Old Town Promotions Committee, as well as a new wife and a mother to an adorable little boy named Stanley.
In May of 2017, Palmer had the honor of participating in the Goldman Sachs program of 10,000 Small Businesses; an accelerated business course designed to boost business growth and aid in new growth opportunities. From this program, she created a new business plan to launch an online store (projected for 2019) focused on a new private label line, to be rolled out within the next couple of years.
When asked what winning the Emerging Entrepreneur Award meant to her, Palmer reflected, “It felt great! The Lansing community of entrepreneurs are a really special, supportive community — it felt like I was being given this award by my peers.”