How to Start a Lingerie Shop in the US

The lingerie industry is a very happening, profitable, and prevalent one in North America, especially the USA.  Those interested or those who have the skill of fashion designing can choose to run a lingerie business in the United States. 

Research shows that now is the perfect time to start a lingerie shop as the clothing industry is booming. After the tremendous increase in online clothes selling, fueled mainly during the pandemic, the retail eCommerce industry is expected to explode to an all-time high of $153.6 billion by 2024. You surely don’t want to miss this chance, do you?

Below we take you on the journey of setting up a lingerie shop in the US. 

Know Your Target Audience

Like any other business, you have to know your audience. Decide on who your audience will be. The best way to go about it is to create “buyer personas” or customer profiles.

A buyer persona basically depicts a theoretical presentation of a buyer’s characteristics, daily life, work life, and buying habits. 

Profiles also help us understand the age group, nationality, cultural influence,  income, and hobbies of the target customer or group.

It can also include the education level and location of the residence that may be important for your business. This sets the tone for the development of a business plan. 

Write Your Business Plan

Perhaps the most important document of your business, the business plan outlines and elaborates how you will go about your business. This is the written material that could be used to persuade investors or banks in giving you funds or loans to start your shop.  

This plan usually covers the details of the company’s background (including mission, vision, and core value, if any), market research and analysis, management and organogram, the products or services offered, marketing plan, operational plan, financial projections, and a request for funding, if deemed needed.

An executive summary usually occurs at the beginning and an appendix may be attached at the end. 

In the case of retail businesses like lingerie shops, your business plan should answer the following:

  • Company image
  • Pricing strategies: Markup policies should be explained. 
  • Calculation of your annual inventory turnover rate. This should compare your shop’s rate to the industry average for your type of store.
  • Customer service policies: it is expected that these should be competitive and in accord with the company’s image.
  • Location of your shop and its convenience to customers as well as reach to suppliers.
  • Methods of promotion and relevant costs. Do your promotional activities align with the company’s image?
  • Credit:  Do you extend credit to customers?  If yes, do you really need to, and do you factor the cost into prices?

Register Your Business

Whether you have to register for your business or not solely depends on the type of business you are running.

In the US, there are three types of business structure: sole proprietorship, partnership, and corporation.  

The first two types have limited liabilities. You don’t need to submit taxes separately for your business and it ends when the owner(s) passes away. 

More often than not, retail shops are sole proprietorships.  This means you are a small business that is simply registered via your business name with state and local governments.

In fact, you don’t need to register at all in some cases. If you conduct business using your legal name, you are not required to register anywhere. But in that case, you would miss out on personal liability protection, legal benefits, and tax benefits.

Some small do register with the federal government, mainly to trademark their business or product names. And other small businesses may register for tax-exemption availing.  Basically, to become a legal entity, you just need to file for a federal tax ID in most cases. 

Source Your Products

After you have gone through the registration and planning formalities, it’s time to choose an authentic undergarment supplier. If you want or have the capital, you may start making your own lingerie and sell it via your shop, offline or online. Or you may start contacting wholesalers and buy bulk quantities.  

In case of selecting the latter, you can go for domestic suppliers or overseas suppliers like SM Basic. Overseas suppliers provide the multi-range of materials and supplies that in-country suppliers may not be able to.  Plus, importing from less developed countries gives you the advantage of cheaper raw materials or bulk orders. 

If you are wondering about the communication hurdles that you may encounter, then we would suggest you surf them very carefully over the internet.  Most businesses, regardless of their location and financial standing, have websites, emails, and social media accounts. Websites do cost a few dollars due to hosting and parking matters. But opening an email or social media accounts or pages is free. So, reaching vendors is no problem nowadays. 

It is a different matter that once you contact vendors or suppliers, they may or may not respond according to your liking.

In evaluating the selection of suppliers, especially for lingerie shops, we suggest you have a look at 8 Mistakes to Avoid When Purchasing Wholesale Panties.

Price Your Products

After you contact your supplier, collect or buy the wholesale lingerie as per your need and liking, now it’s time to set the all-important, PRICE!

Ensuring the right price for your product is vital. If you want to make a profit soon, you have to ensure that the selling price is marked up appropriately so that your operating costs and fixed cost are at least covered. Also, you would want to go over break-even as much as possible so that you can make some profit of your own. 

Importing in bulk means a good possibility of currency fluctuation. Make sure managed and purchasing costs don’t overtake or equal selling costs. 

Set Realistic Sales Goals

Finally, make sure your sales targets are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timebound.

Find out the market trends of shops in your industry. set the prices according to market trends and strategize sales so that your customers want your lingerie.

Be realistic, don’t expect high profits within months. Profit will come eventually if you can handle your operations and promotions well.

Final Thoughts

If you want to enter the apparel industry with lingerie, you are most welcome.  This industry is booming tremendously.

However, make sure you do it in a well-planned, documented, researched, and timely manner. Your shop will make huge profits; you just need to make sure you source the right products and from the right sources (like SNM Basic) at the right time. 

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