“It’s really important to me to be encouraging to women, and feel good about ourselves,” said Winona Collier as she stood near the entrance of her new lingerie store, Bellie Beth.
Next to her is a display of undergarments for young girls, with a T-shirt that reads, “Drop Dead Confident”.
Empowering women is at the heart of Collier’s entire business model.
Bellie Beth was named after her daughter, Annabella Elizabeth, who Collier said is “one of the main reasons I started this business.”
Collier, who lives in Mount Pearl, home-schooled her three children for eight years before they went to public school. With her children in school, she found herself drawn to the idea of starting her own business.
Bellie Beth opened at the Glenhill Plaza in Mount Pearl on June 12.
“I didn’t want (my daughter) to ever feel uncomfortable about something as simple as shopping for a bra, or to ever think she isn’t perfect exactly as she is,” said Collier of the inspiration behind her new business and its name.
“Her strength and confidence inspire me every day, and is the essence of what I wanted as the heart of this store.”
Collier’s mantra shows in the brands she carries.
To the left as customers enter the store is a display of colourful, patchwork-style slips and undergarments. They’re shipped from Argentina where the designer and owner, Mariana Cortes, teaches women in need of employment how to make the hand-printed, one-of-a-kind, environmentally friendly and no-waste garments.
To the right is a line designed for younger customers.
Yellowberry was founded by Megan Grassell when she was 17. The brand was born after a frustrating experience taking her younger sister shopping for her first bra.
On Yellowberry’s website, Grassell explains that it started when the sisters couldn’t find anything that wasn’t full of padding or had push-up features.
“I thought to myself, ‘If no one else is going to make cute, comfortable and appropriate bras specifically for girls, then I will find a way to do it myself,’” Grassell wrote on the website.
Collier prides herself on stocking such socially-responsible brands with strong female CEOs.
“I love strong, confident women and I know that we only get that way when we support and encourage each other,” she said.
Also in stock at Bellie Beth are mastectomy bras, swimwear, bridal wear and colourful pajamas, among other products.
Collier said what sets her store apart is that she’s particularly focused on offering one-on-one service with fittings and a personalized shopping experience.
“I really try to make a connection with everyone that comes through the door, and with time hope to build relationships with my customers, because that’s really what it’s all about — you could buy a bra anywhere really.”
While she said people are obviously welcome to browse and shop for themselves, many women aren’t wearing the right size or fit and her service can help shoppers find the perfect undergarments for them.
“That was a huge factor when planning and designing the space, too,” she said.
“I wanted a lounge area where people would feel encouraged to sit and have a coffee and chat.”
Collier set up comfortable chairs and a coffee station and cooler near the store’s entrance.
She said she also wanted “encouraging and empowering quotes everywhere.”
Indeed, they’re on the walls and even on the mirrors in the fitting rooms.
Later this month on July 21, Bellie Beth will host a mother-daughter shopping day featuring the Yellowberry line, with prizes and snacks.
Collier plans to host a variety of monthly events and is also finalizing details for the grand opening later this summer.
People can stay up-to-date on those and future events by following Bellie Beth on Facebook and Instagram.