“It was a big fluke,” said the proprietor of Leslie’s Finery.
Carroll was the manager of a local ladies wear store when a customer approached her about buying the shop she was selling. My Secrets Lingerie was in the same place where Leslie’s Finery is now located, and Carroll was also a customer there as well.
“She asked me if I was interested in buying the business. At first I thought ‘no,’ but within a couple of months, I was in business. It wasn't something I ever aspired to, but I’ve enjoyed every minute. It’s been interesting.”
Carroll’s shop, located in downtown New Glasgow, was recently nominated for an international award, which she said is acknowledgement of their expertise and the type of service provided for customers.
“It’s validation that we’re doing something right. It’s exciting and a real honour.”
The Best of Intima Awards recognize the achievements of independent lingerie retailers from the United States and Canada, honouring best practices within the intimate apparel, beachwear and loungewear retail business. Shops are nominated for various reasons, such as product knowledge, fitting expertise, customer service, and unique sales abilities.
Nine finalists are nominated in each of five categories, but Carroll isn’t sure which group her shop is in. Leslie’s Finery was selected by Wacoal Canada, one of its suppliers, and she said she was surprised to receive the nomination.
“When you live in a small town and have a small business, you don’t think you’re going to receive international recognition. It’s certainly very humbling and very satisfying to think we can compete in the world market and succeed even though we’re in a small place.”
Leslie’s Finery sells lingerie, swimsuits, sleepwear and a line of dresses, as well as mastectomy wear. Carroll said her boutique also carries hard-to-find sizes. “They’re very much needed. Most people have no idea what cup size they’re supposed to wear.”
The store specializes in sizing, with all five staff members certified as fitters. Opened in 2002, Leslie’s Finery serves customers in Guysborough, Antigonish and Colchester counties, Cape Breton island, and as far away as Moncton.
Along with the specialized and diverse product line, Carroll said an important ingredient for success lies in service. She said from the shop’s first day, she never thought of it as a retail outlet, but as a service provider. “We provide a necessary service to women.”
“Probably the key component that makes a business successful is listening to customers’ needs and trying to satisfy them – plain and simple.”
Carroll is planning to attend the Intima Awards in New York City at the end of July, along with her store manager.
“Regardless of whether or not we win, just being nominated and knowing we made the finals is tremendous recognition for a small business in a small town,” she said.
“Hopefully it will bring recognition and awareness to women who have never bothered to have a professional fitting before – that it’s something they can do in the local area.”