By Elaine Anne Watt
Sometimes it’s timing, sometimes it’s providence, and sometimes it’s a little of both. In the case of Kayse Small and Sara Crutcher, somehow it was meant to be.
Kayse fell in love with lingerie while living in France for four years. Socializing meant spending time with European women eating delicious food and visiting lingerie boutiques when not handling her responsibilities as President of the Parent/Teacher Organization (PTO) of Marymount International School.
“I started out feeling very uncomfortable because I wasn’t taught to think about myself,” she says. “I had six kids. It was supposed to be all about them. My time there was a great influence on reframing my mindset about being a beautiful woman. I learned about feeling confident about your body, whatever your body type, style or size.”
Fast-forward to 2009, and Kayse started working at Jos. A. Banks. Although only there for three months, she realized that she was good at sales and wanted to get more training in retail. She was living in Haymarket and started a position at Market Salamander learning all she could about events, catering and retail services. After one and a half years, she joined the opening team for Salamander Resort & Spa, managing the gift shop for the past 4 ½ years. She remembers dreaming about opening a lingerie boutique in Middleburg about seven or eight years ago, but she didn’t think it was a viable option for the town at that time.
Meanwhile, Sara’s passion for lingerie started early. By the end of her first semester at Hampton University, she was working at Victoria’s Secret over breaks and even during the school year. She loved the colors, lace and textures. Graduating with a degree from the School of Communications in Advertising, Sara worked with advertising agencies in Atlanta, New York and Chicago, the hubs of that world.
Simultaneously, while in Atlanta, Sara worked at a high-end lingerie boutique, Blue Corset Company, where she was introduced to quality brands like Cotton Club, La Perla and ID Sarrieri. She then joined Intimacy, both in Atlanta and then New York, which is now Rigby & Peller, where she was trained to be an expert bra fitter. Sara took classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, and she gained valuable online retailing experience with Freshpair. In Chicago, she worked at one of La Perla’s premier locations on the famed Magnificent Mile.
What happened next could be considered coincidence or something more. While visiting Middleburg, Sara’s mother, Dr. Betty Neal Crutcher, went into Salamander’s gift shop and met Kayse, becoming friends. Later, both Sara and Kayse happened to visit Sara’s Mom in Richmond on the same weekend and discovered their mutual love of lingerie.
“We started to go to trade shows together and bouncing off ideas,” says Sara. “I was living in Michigan, and Kayse was here in Virginia, both of us doing our own lingerie mobile service and pop-up businesses.”
Over one and a half years, they made connections with vendors while attending trade shows together every six months. Then, Kayse found available space to rent right on North Pendleton Street in the heart of Middleburg, and they were ready to act.
Kayse and Sara officially opened their boutique, Le Boudoir, on November 24, Black Friday. The Town held a ribbon-cutting for them on December 15, and the Grand Opening was the next day.
The women feel they complement each other. Sara is more about the fashion and is very comfortable with wearing lingerie for the personal joy it brings. She understands, however, that for some women it is not a passion but a necessity. “I want them to know that they can have both,” she says. “The right fit, style and color can make you feel amazing and confident. Nobody may know what you’re wearing, but you have more pep in your step when you know you look great.”
Kayse is more about women “accepting our bodies for what they are and adorning them the way we want to. I can always tell how a woman feels by looking at how she carries her body, sits or moves. I want women to feel the freedom to be able to wear whatever they want to wear, not for their partner, or for someone else, but for themselves as a woman.”
Sara points out that women “never think of lingerie as a source of confidence as we go through life’s processes. Our bodies and lives are always changing. It makes you feel good to have something on underneath to make you feel better.”
And, it’s all about the fit. Most women don’t wear the right size or style. Think you do? Well, you might want to make an appointment or stop in to Le Boudoir. If experience is a good measure, then I can attest that the results won’t disappoint.
Sara summed it up: “We feel just so blessed, fortunate, excited. Every emotion. It’s a dream for both of us.” ML
Located at 10 North Pendleton Street, Middleburg, VA. For more information, visit www.leboudoirfits.com or call 540-883-3129.