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Lingerie Boutique With Personal Touch

Journelle, an upscale lingerie boutique that opened in December in Manhattan, has a certain hominess, from its interior design to its sales philosophy.

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Journelle, an upscale lingerie boutique that opened in December at 3 East 17th Street in Manhattan, has a certain hominess, from its interior design to its sales philosophy.

Greeted by a waft of the shop’s signature fragrance, linden flower, and personal items from founder and chief executive officer Claire Chambers, such as Nancy Drew books from her childhood, customers can leisurely shop for lingerie by category, not brands.

The strategy behind the merchandising philosophy is to facilitate the shopping experience by finding the exact style each client is looking for without dealing with endless racks of merchandise. Chambers noted that the name of the shop in French means “daily,” and her objective is to give customers a daily lingerie fix.

“I come from a management consulting career, but I’ve always loved lingerie,” Chambers said. “There aren’t that many lingerie stores in Ashland, Ore., where I’m from. When I was 14, I would go shopping with a girlfriend and bring home these brightly colored string bikinis. My mother, who’s an anthropologist, thought I was insane. My inspiration to open a lingerie boutique was personally not being satisfied with the offerings out there.”

Chambers, who worked on design, programs and store development for Starbucks at Katzenbach Partners, is projecting sales of $1.4 million the first full year.

“We are currently looking at additional stores in Los Angeles and Miami, and have already signed leases for multiple openings in 2009,” she said.

Her 1,500-square-foot boutique, designed by Kramer Design Group, can fit 4,000 units on the selling floor that features frosted glass panels on fitting room doors, as well as walls lined with purple linen panels to be “luxurious, not precious.”

“Our top sellers are perennially brands that marry fashion and fit, like Huit, Simone Pérèle and Elle Macpherson Intimates,” she said. “What sets my boutique apart is the way we approach customers. Our goal is not to sell as much as possible, but when customers leave, we want to make them feel special, whether it’s a special order or having them try on every bra in the store.”

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