We fit right in w/ Sherry Ludwig, the owner of Bisou Lingerie as we sit down and discuss her 13 years of being a downtown Kenosha business owner and the success of Bisou in this exclusive Q&A.
Q. You’ve been a business owner downtown since 2009, when you opened up Coco’s Attic, tell us how that evolved in to where you are at today with Bisou Lingerie?
Sherry: We opened Coco’s Attic during the economic downturn because resale/consignment shopping was optimal (and fun) for those looking to keep their clothes budget under control, while still enjoying the thrill of the hunt. We were known for designer consignment – only quality brands were accepted. Our customers would come in and try on clothing, stating they would buy this dress “when I lose ten pounds”. I realized that the only thing they needed was to wear a decent foundation! That was my lightbulb moment for the next chapter of our journey. I brought in six styles and put them on a table in the rear of our almost 2000 square foot store on Sixth Avenue. It took months, but eventually some brave women tried on the bras and loved the fit! I took all the profits from those initial sales and purchased more inventory. Slowly, but surely, the lingerie business started to get traction. Half the store ended up with lingerie products and the other half consignment items. It was at that point that we decided to take the lingerie business on it’s own and opened in our current location over five years ago!
Q. What makes European-inspired lingerie different and desirable?
Sherry: Our products are designed and manufactured in Europe and Canada. The Europeans have a different philosophy about the proper fit of a bra. They increase the size of the cup, making it possible to wear the proper band size for proper fit and comfort. We invite you to come in and show you how your bra should fit!
Q. Why is a bra fitting so important?
Sherry: The value of getting fit by a professional is what sets our boutique apart. Sizes vary across different brands and styles. For example, a 34D in one brand does not necessarily fit the same as a 34D in another brand. Women are all unique in their sizing so we strive to have products to fit almost everyone who walks through our doors.
Q. How can someone book a fitting?
Sherry: You can book a fitting on our website, www.bisoubras.com or call us directly at 262-653-0112. Appointments are recommended, but not required. We do recommend appointments for Saturdays to ensure that you will have ample time to be assisted by one of our professional fitters.
Q. How do you stay up to date on all the latest lingerie trends?
Sherry: Most lingerie trends start in Europe. I attend several lingerie conventions every year in New York City and other fun locations, including Paris. I have close relationships around the industry and stay on top of all trends.
Q. Bisou just doesn’t have lingerie, can you tell us some of the other products you carry?
Sherry: We are a full service lingerie store carrying bras, including nursing, sports and post mastectomy bras, panties, slips, shapewear as well as robes, chemises, active wear and lounge wear. We also carry several quality lines of soaps, lotions and essential oils. During the holiday season, we also carry pajamas, socks and jewelry.
Q. You have a fantastic team at Bisou, what can you tell us about them?
Sherry: I tell everyone that I have the best team in Downtown Kenosha! Rita has been with me for over four years. She has a full time job so she doesn’t work the floor anymore, but she does all of our social media and event planning. Anne has over thirty years in the lingerie industry and bra fitting experience; you couldn’t ask for a more knowledgeable, capable, person to help you navigate your fit challenges! Our newest find, Nancy, has been a friend and supporter of the shop since we opened; she just retired from a corporate job and has found joy and fulfillment helping women be their best selves. We also have two college students that work part time in the summer, their main responsibilities include inventory, e commerce and are fitters in training. I believe in a collaborative workplace – every team member brings their own strengths and experiences, making a very strong, enjoyable workplace!
Q. What is the perfect holiday gift to get someone at Bisou Lingerie?
Sherry: There is no better gift, then giving the gift of fit. Every year, we see husbands, mothers, daughters and partners purchasing gift cards because they care enough to give their loved one the experience of feeling their best! If you feel like gift cards are too impersonal, we have a beautiful selection of silk, cashmere and microfiber robes, not to mention special occasion lingerie! Try our oil blend fragrances, rich lotions or goat milk soaps. We offer something for everyone!
Q. How did you come up with the name Bisou Lingerie?
Sherry: The original name was ZouBisou Lingerie, meaning lots of kisses in French. We cut the name to Bisou (kiss) Lingerie for simplicity and also to move up the alphabet where you have a better chance of being seen.
Q. Can you walk us through a typical day at Bisou?
Sherry: You never know what awaits you when you unlock the doors in the morning. After checking voice mails, emails and immediate communication that needs to happen, you usually have a few appointments. Sweeping the front door and straightening stock are two duties that never seem to end. We carry over 200 discreet sizes, so the racks that house the bras are always in need of organizing!
We then welcome customers who are there for a fitting. The first thing we do is ask you about your lifestyle and what you like/dislike about your current bra. Next comes two quick measurements over your clothing. Once we determine what styles/size would best work for you, we bring you a trial fit bra to ensure that we have the right side. We show you the proper way to put the bra on and show you the benefits of a good fit. We continue to bring you bras until you tell us to stop! No one leaves the dressing room without a thumbs up from the fitter. We enter your information into our computer system to make sure we keep your size on file. We also have a wish list that we add to, in case your partner wants to purchase one of your favorites!
Q. What makes Bisou stand out from other stores?
Sherry: Our breadth and depth of product is what sets us apart from other stores. Also, our customer service and friendly staff.
Q. What one word would describe your business?
Sherry: There are many words to describe Bisou, however the consensus seems to be TRANSFORMATIONAL!
Q. What do you love about having your business in Downtown Kenosha?
Sherry: It is very gratifying to see the growth and change in downtown Kenosha.
Q. Where do you see Bisou Lingerie in the next couple of years?
Sherry: We will continue our quest to bring the most innovative, quality products to our customers without sacrificing the fabulous service and knowledgeable expertise that we are known for! We are expanding our marketing into northern Illinois and have had some success bringing women to our boutique for a little Downtown Kenosha hospitality! We are always open to expansion, while keeping an eye on the larger picture, and if the opportunity is right.
Q&A by Donny StancatoPhotos by Donny Stancato & Bisou Lingerie
Edited by Jason Hedman
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(This article first appeared in the winter 2022 Downtown Kenosha Magazine)