[two_first][/two_first][two_second]We are so excited to share with you an exclusive interview with Jeanna Kadlec, the fabulous lady behind the Bluestockings Boutique, the LGBTQ friendly lingerie company launching soon! Check out what we learned about curating your own collection, balancing a day job, and how to stay motivated in the startup game.[/two_second]
Introduce yourself to our readers– tell us who you are and what you do! [dropcap background="yes" color="#333333"]T[/dropcap]he three words I use to describe myself lately are writer, entrepreneur, and girlboss. The short version: I’m a 27-year-old lesbian-identified cis-lady who hails from the Midwest. I came to Boston for graduate school and have fallen in love with New England, but I still wear cowboy boots and listen to country music.
I’m also the founder of Bluestockings Boutique, an up and coming alternative lingerie boutique whose motto is “underthings for everyone.” I founded Bluestockings specifically for the LGBTQ community, which makes it the only lingerie boutique of its kind in the United States.[divider type="short"] Your company Bluestocking's mission is to "empower people who have been ignored and marginalized by the mainstream, to offer them an experience that reflects their identities, their bodies, and their values." We think this is fabulous- can you tell us more!
[dropcap background="yes" color="#333333"]T[/dropcap]he mission comes from that desire to give people—especially the LGBTQ community—a safe space to shop for underthings where they know that things like identity, body image, representation, and ethical practices are being thought about.
Obviously, no one can be all things to all people, and Bluestockings is going to be on a steep learning curve its first few months. I’m looking forward to learning more about what our customers want and need.
But it is so vital that people be told explicitly: we care about you. We are here for you. We are listening to you. You are not an afterthought.
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What's it like to have an online store with different brands? How did you curate your products?
[dropcap background="yes" color="#333333"]I[/dropcap] initially envisioned Bluestockings as a brick and mortar store, keeping with that idea of having a safe (physical) space people could come to. However, startup costs are prohibitively large in Boston; it ended up being much easier to go the online route. But I still ended up approaching the boutique like I would a brick and mortar lingerie store—wanting to curate a thoughtful collection of underthings from designers who fit my vision.
A primary issue in founding a boutique “for” the queer community is the issue of queer aesthetic because I am absolutely not trying to define what queer underwear is. Queer underthings are whatever any person who identifies as queer is wearing! Rather, the three things I’ve kept in mind as I curate a collection are style, size, and sustainability.
[well]First, style. Most lingerie boutiques offer exclusively feminine (and lots of “high femme”) styles. I think it’s important to present a diversity of styles. The challenge is that there are very few lingerie designers who are making underthings that feature a more androgynous aesthetic. But for the price point we were going for, I’m pleased with what we’re offering.
Size is self-explanatory. Again: we can’t be all things to all people. The size range of our opening inventory range starts at a 28A (US) and goes up to a 42G (UK). We can’t afford to stock 26 through 50 bands, A to N cups—it’s too expensive, especially for a new business (consider that the wholesale cost of bras is roughly half their retail, and you can see how buying one bra in each size would get really pricy, really fast). However, I’m a full bust size myself, and I think that boutiques could stand to open up their size range significantly. We will definitely expand our offerings in the sizes we can carry as we grow.
The third component is sustainability. Supporting independent designers (like Toru & Naoko), new companies (like UK-based Curvy Kate), and businesses that manufacture locally and ethically (like Dear Kate) is one of our key values.[/well] [divider type="short"]
Is this your 9 to 5 job or are you a lady hustler? Can you tell us what it's like to run your own business?
[dropcap background="yes" color="#333333"]I[/dropcap]'m a lady hustler. When I started Bluestockings last fall, I was simultaneously beginning the fourth year of my doctoral program (in English Lit) and was studying for my qualifying exams. I have since decided to leave my program at the end of this semester in order to focus on Bluestockings and other opportunities. But in the meantime, this is still my side hustle—as I write this, I’m teaching a freshman writing course on feminism and fairy tales.[pullquote align="left" background="off"]Running my own business has given me my confidence back—or perhaps instilled a confidence in me that I never imagined I could have.[/pullquote]
As much as I love teaching, and as much as grad school has taught me, I’m gonna be real for a second (or two). Running my own business has given me my confidence back—or perhaps instilled a confidence in me that I never imagined I could have. Anyone who has been to grad school, or is in grad school, knows what it’s like to get the shit kicked out of you for years on end. It takes a toll. But within a few months of running my own business, my confidence, my self-esteem, my belief in my own capacity to actually get out there and do shit was rehabilitated in a way that was unreal and literally life-giving. It’s been the best possible thing for me.[divider type="short"]
What advice do you have to someone who is interested in starting an e-commerce store but is afraid to take the first step?
[dropcap background="yes" color="#333333"]J[/dropcap]ust do it. There’s a steep learning curve no matter how you slice it, so dive in and get momentum going and whatever you do, don’t stop. Get a wordpress or squarespace website and if you don’t feel like your skills are up to snuff, hire someone on elance to make it pretty. Invest money in logo and branding, because looking professional is important and if your business is online, that’s your calling card. Get your brand on social media ASAP and start connecting with people. Don’t worry about someone stealing your idea—just worry about doing your own thing! And don’t worry about not knowing what you’re doing—I mean, yes, you don’t know, you learn as you go, but that’s the whole point: you will learn. And that is the most rewarding, incredible feeling in the world.[divider type="thin"][divider type="thin"]