A bra-fitting shop wasn’t at the top of Bette Spettel’s retail dreams, but when the opportunity to manage, then own, one arose – Bette’s drive to support other women took a literal turn.
For two years prior to starting her own boutique, Bette learned the ropes of the intimate apparel industry while managing the Bath branch of an existing shop. She quickly realized that bra-fitting was more than just a sales tool. Her welcoming presence, keen listening skills and sensitivity (honed from a previous career in early-childhood education) allowed women to feel comfortable to share their fit issues and needs.
“Finding someone to help you get the correct bra fit can be life-changing,” Bette shares. “Working with women and helping them find the appropriate fit across a spectrum of sizes – this is a service and I’m helping people.” Customers agree with Bette, who reports with great satisfaction that customers follow up from fittings almost weekly to thank her for reducing their pain. It’s no surprise then that chiropractors and mammogram facilities are some of her best sources of new-customer referrals.
One thing that frustrated Bette as a manager, however, was the lack of availability of products for people outside of the most common sizes. Though she had asked the owner to expand the product range, her suggestions weren’t taken owing to the cost and risk of having inventory that didn’t move quickly. Bette decided that if she were going to make bra-shopping the experience she thought it should be, she would need to open her own shop.
It was at this point, Bette reached out to Brad Swanson, a Certified Master Business Advisor with the Maine Small Business Development Centers hosted at CEI.
Brad guided Bette through the development of a business plan, running numbers and helping her identify what her startup needs would be – all with an eye to creating a business that had an expansive inventory and employment opportunities.
Brad also served as a reliable source of encouragement. “Brad really understood my mission,” Bette recalls. “He believed in me; that was the biggest thing.”
When Bette’s employer announced that she was closing her store, Bette jumped on the opportunity to take over the lease and spent a whirlwind month renovating the space, purchasing inventory and reopening as Over the Moon – the name chosen to reflect how women feel after their shop experience. The improvements to the shop included increasing the size of the changing rooms so they could accommodate both a customer with a disability and their caregiver, having plus-sized mannequins as part of the displays and always carrying an inventory that covered a wider range of bra sizes, as well as special needs garments like post-mastectomy and nursing bras. Bette also added accessories as well as a selection of sleep and loungewear – all available in a wide range of sizes — to increase revenue and cover the cost of the extensive bra inventory.
“I know that some stock will remain on the shelves for a long time,” Bette says, “but it means so much to have it available to the customer when they walk in. Having choice is very important. Everyone deserves to have access to something that fits them and makes them feel beautiful.”
With this philosophy guiding the business, Over the Moon won the 2020 Intima Award for “Best Reference Store” – an industry award given to an exemplary North American intimate apparel store with a broad, comprehensive product offering. The Intima trophy now sits proudly behind the register.
“We are offering a model that isn’t typical – where you walk in a store and someone gives you their complete attention. We’re in the role of being a passionate listener. We offer real personal attention to our customers,” Bette shares. True to her mission once again she is putting service at the heart of sales, a for-profit business with the heart of a nonprofit.
Learn more about Over the Moon
- Web: https://www.overthemoonmaine.com/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/overthemoonmaine/
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/overthemoonmaine/
Looking to Start or Grow Your Business?
No cost, one-on-one assistance is provided to potential and existing business owners and managers in Maine by the Maine Small Business Development Center (Maine SBDC) at CEI. Maine SBDC Advisors at CEI are qualified business people with diverse educational and business experience. CEI-hosted advisors are available in Augusta, Bangor, Brunswick, Ellsworth, Machias, Rockland, Waterville and Wiscasset.
For more information about the services available or to make an appointment with a business advisor, please contact the office nearest you or request a consultation
For more information on CEI’s loan offerings, including our Wicked Fast loans, visit: https://www.ceimaine.org/financing/
photos courtesy of Il Leone