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Future Makers 2012
By Oliver Milman
Business name: The Lingerie Boutique and Sheer Novice
Just three years ago, Costabir was a 21-year-old with absolutely no business experience. Now she owns and operates two firms – The Lingerie Boutique and Sheer Novice.
The genesis of both businesses was similar – Costabir saw there was a gap in the market and moved quickly to fill it.
With The Lingerie Boutique, the Victorian realised that Australia lacked high-quality, luxury lingerie, especially in the online retail space. She promptly jumped on a plane to Paris, attended a round of fashion shows and convinced a handful of designers to supply her.
With sales rapidly gathering pace, Costabir then decided that another niche needed to be filled – a site for men who want to buy lingerie for their wives or girlfriends.
“With The Lingerie Boutique, a good proportion of our customers were men… Men and women have different kinds of questions. I was finding it hard to talk to them in the same space,” Costabir says.
“I saw an opportunity to do something a bit different. Currently, there aren’t any lingerie stores specifically targeted for men, so I saw an opportunity.”
After initially struggling to differentiate the two offerings, Costabir rejigged Sheer Novice to make it more male-friendly and has subsequently seen a sharp rise in sales, ahead of potential expansion overseas.
“With a business, you should be able to look at it and immediately identify what the point of difference is and what message they’re conveying,” she says.
“There wasn’t a distinctive difference between Sheer Novice and The Lingerie Boutique. Now, Sheer Novice is extremely simple… which is what it needs to be and what differentiates it.
“With whatever your next venture is, make sure you have a point of difference because they are going to be competing… That’s something people need to consider.
“It would be a bad thing if The Lingerie Boutique customers were buying off Sheer Novice because the whole idea is to keep your customer base and build customer loyalty.”
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