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'One person at a time': Curvaceous Lingerie empowers everyone in their bodies

September 23, 2022
Items are displayed inside the store Curvaceous Lingerie located in Old Town on Sept. 22, 2022. The store offers intimates in an inclusive and broad range of sizes.
Items are displayed inside the store Curvaceous Lingerie located in Old Town on Sept. 22, 2022. The store offers intimates in an inclusive and broad range of sizes. —
Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

Lauren Palmer always knew she wanted to open her own business. The idea for her store, Curvaceous Lingerie, came to her while shopping with a friend for a birthday trip in Cincinnati.

The two of them were in a lingerie shop when Palmer's friend suggested that, with the fifteen years of experience she had working in the bridal industry, she open something like the store they were in. 

“I was familiar with the world of lingerie and bras, and I had always liked it,” Palmer said. “It was just this combination of a love of it, plus a little bit of knowledge ... Once the idea landed, it was like, 'Oh, there's a huge demand for this and a huge range of sizes and Lansing doesn't really have it.' So, it all kind of came together.”

Curvaceous Lingerie, now located in Old Town Lansing, began operating out of a sublet space inside The Wedding Bell, where Palmer was working at the time.

Palmer said this setup came with both advantages and disadvantages. While she had her own window, it was difficult to gain traction and for people to understand that it was a separate business from the bridal salon. Palmer also said that when she opened, she experienced a learning curve, since she didn’t want to be a bra store.

"I just wanted to do lingerie,” Palmer said. “But it became very apparent very quickly, one of the main challenges was that people wanted bras. So, you learn to adapt … But it was that initial thought that, 'I don't know what I'm doing with this, I don't want to do this, but this is what everybody wants of me.' Then it evolved, and now bras are 75% of my business.”

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Palmer said that clothing and lingerie plays a huge role in making someone feel confident and sexy. She said that if someone is wearing the wrong size bra, they will look and feel terrible.

“Bras work very hard for you,” Palmer said. “If you want them to actually support you, you have to do it right. You have to invest in them. They can still be cute -- I'm not saying you need to wear your grandma's bra. They can totally be cute and colorful and fun.”

Bra fittings typically last 40 minutes and require an appointment. Bra fit specialists do not take measurements but rather go through a long training process to learn how to work with customers to help them find the right fit. Palmer said that she recently had a woman come into the store who she had helped five years prior. This woman told her that after getting fitted for a bra all those years ago, she left the store with an entirely new outlook on herself and her body.

"I had no idea that day that I had just completely changed everything about the way that she felt about herself,” Palmer said. “Everything. It sounds stupid, but we have a lot of people that cry in our store. I have 70-year-olds that just stand there in awe because they've never had a bra that has ever fit them in their whole life.”

Amy Phillips, who now works at the store, shopped at Curvaceous for years. She said while she was a customer, her favorite part about coming into the store was knowing she would receive personal service and walk out with something she really liked. 

“I love when people find their curves again,” Phillips said. “We've all been in our loungewear for the past few years. They decide that they're going to venture out and get some new lingerie or a bra or underwear. They figure out that they have those curves, and they've had them all the time ... We're always into empowering everyone who comes to feel wonderful.”

Since opening in November 2012, Palmer has always had the mission of being as inclusive as she can. She carries sizes small through 3XL and has been working to offer a wide selection suitable to different skin tones as well.

“Everybody should feel comfortable with their body,” Palmer said. “Everybody should have empowering experiences with their body. We have too much media these days, we have too much crap out there circulating in the world, particularly with women, about our bodies.”

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Palmer said that her mission since opening Curvaceous Lingerie has been to be welcoming to men and the trans community. While she believes the lingerie industry as a whole has started to be more welcoming to the trans community, even offering trans lines, there are still strides that need to be made.

“It's empowering, I think, on both sides," Palmer said. "There are a lot of bra stores out there that still won't let men try things. Which is very unfortunate.”

Phillips said that it is refreshing to be able to help the transgender community and provide personalized customer service to everyone who walks in.

“My youngest son is transgender,” Phillips said. “I think it makes me more approachable for anyone who comes in who is in that situation. To be like, 'It's okay, come, we're going to get you something that you're going to feel fabulous in.' No matter if you're just starting out on your journey or if you've been on this journey for a long time … I don't know about the industry in general, but we're trying to make a difference. And it's one person at a time.”

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