Finding a fit at Esprit de la Femme Lingerie

For owner Cheryl Côté, building relationships and helping women find confidence is just a day on the job

Cheryl Côté is the owner of Esprit de la Femme Lingerie in Nelson, B.C. Shown here with her staff Jody Deverney (right) and Katherine van der Veen (left).

Cheryl Côté (centre) is the owner of Esprit de le Femme Lingerie, shown here with her staff Katherine van der Veen (left) and Jody Deverney. — Photo coutesy Jody Deverney

For Cheryl Côté, owning Esprit de la Femme Lingerie is about providing her customers with quality undergarments and exceptional customer service. She opened the store in Nelson, B.C., in 2002 and has been fitting her clients and specializing in European lingerie ever since.

Côté and her staff, Jody Deverney and Katherine van der Veen, recently completed bra-fitting training through the Fab Fit Academy. Having certified fitters makes the store unique—there are only a handful of Fab Fit-certified professionals throughout Canada. The program gave the women the tools and confidence to even better inform their customers about all aspects of finding an appropriate and well-fitted bra.

“What the Fab Fit Academy does is it goes beyond just the bra,” said Côté. “It really focuses on helping women feel amazing, because all of our bodies are unique. So we really delved into the psychology and physiology of bra fitting, where a bra is more than just your bra—it’s your confidence, it’s your posture and the way your breathe. . . . Some women can be shy or intimidated just because they’ve never had the intimate fitting experience before, but I think our training has really helped us to not look at it from so much a clinical perspective but to really look at it as a specialized service.”

It's a fit

Every time a customer purchases from Esprit de la Femme, staff is on hand to ensure she is professionally fitted. There are no consistent size standards in the lingerie industry, so the ladies working at the store don’t focus on numbers, but look at fit. The process is all about open communication and trust. Staff never use a measuring tape. They might ask questions about style and colour and will use their training and knowledge of inventory to help the customer find the right item. Côté emphasizes that while she’s glad to provide expertise, shopping at Esprit de la Femme is ultimately about allowing the customer to be comfortable and discreet while enjoying the experience without pressure or judgement.

Nothing but quality

Esprit de la Femme keeps a diverse mix of products that serves every gender identity and any undergarment need. Côté has chosen companies that stand behind their products.

“Some companies we’ve been with since we opened,” said Côté. “One of those companies is Chantelle—they are one of the premier bra companies internationally. So we have companies like Chantelle that know what they’re doing—they’re cutting edge with their fabrics and design, they’re working with the fashion industry and they really stand behind us. To know that these companies back us and they stand behind their product really allows us to stand behind our customer.”

And whether it's hosting a private party, keeping the shop creative and fun or helping someone find the perfect fit for the first time, Esprit de la Femme is all about those customers. Côté is thankful to everyone who has supported the shop throughout her years in business. She looks forward to continuing to offer professional bra-fitting services and specialized products to the people of the Kootenays.

“I think the thing I enjoy the most is realizing that what I’m doing really does make a difference,” she said. “I’ve seen the transformation in the way people see themselves. And I’ve seen people go through a lot of their own lives—through surgeries or injury, childbirth, weight gain, weight loss—I know how women’s bodies can change and how unique we all are. And to see the positive difference that we make and the relationships that we’ve made over the years, it gives me a lot of joy. I feel very honoured. It’s a huge level of trust that people put into me.”

Kristen Mitchell

Kristen studied at College of the Rockies in Cranbrook and has worked in a variety of industries, from agriculture to construction, retail to restaurants. She now brings her understanding of the area to Kootenay Business magazine. View all of Kristen Mitchell’s articles

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