Jeanne Emory, owner of Bra Genie (2881 Highway 190, Mandeville, 985-951-8638; www.thebragenie.com), DRAWS ON her many years in the bra industry to make women feel their best. Born and raised in Michigan, Emory graduated from Louisiana State University with a degree in fashion merchandising and has been working in the bra industry since 1999.
In 2005, Emory started a by-appointment bra-fitting business from her home, and it grew mostly by word of mouth. She opened the flagship Mandeville location in 2008.
"When I opened my first store in 2008, I'd already had 2,000 clients come through my door," Emory says. "We have 45,000 clients now. We aim for customer loyalty. We love new clients but those loyal, tried and true clients are golden."
Bra Genie provides a free fitting for each prospective client.
"It's kind of like shopping for blue jeans, where you really need to get your body into the bra," Emory says. "We have regular everyday bras, we have beautiful lacy bras, we have sports bras, nursing bras, post-mastectomy bras, [and] we do bra-sized swimwear."
Emory says women often pick the wrong sizes for themselves because size and fit varies by brand. Bra Genie's expert fitters guide the process. The store stocks A–K cups with half sizes, and bands between 28 and 50 inches.
"We're a little different. You walk in and look around and you'll see shapewear, and panties and swimwear, but you don't see the bras because we keep all the bras in the back, in the vault," Emory says.
The Mandeville store has almost 10,000 bras in stock, and the Baton Rouge location has about 8,000. Emory refers to the back stock as a kind of library that fitters can access. Each bra is selected by Emory.
"We like to say that every bra that we carry in our stores earns its place on the rack," Emory says.
She goes to the manufacturing markets two or three times a year to choose bras. After the bras are selected, she and her fitters track the store's sales history of each selection, to see what works for customers and what doesn't.
"We say that there is no one perfect bra because you need a variety in your wardrobe," Emory says. "You want a few everyday bras, a couple date bras, and some sports bras."
Emory advises customers that the band of a bra should be firm and snug, but shouldn't pinch, and should lay flat against the chest wall. Breasts should be encased by the underwire.
"Straps don't need to be tightened up all the way; that's not what's lifting you," she says. "Only 10 to 15 percent of the support comes from the straps."
Emory also emphasizes the importance of maintenance in extending the life of a bra.
"No bra should go in the washing machine," she says. "It cuts the life of the bra. Also, you should rotate your bras so that they have time to regain their shape before you wear them again."