Twenty years ago, Sarah and Michael Wiener decided to open a specialty bridal accessory shop in Vienna, yet quickly realized there was a larger market in need of attention here in the region: the lingerie industry.
Today, the duo owns Trousseau LTD, one of the largest independently owned specialty bra stores in North America, consistently recognized as a leader in the industry both locally and internationally. In addition to carrying more than 160 variants of bra sizes from primarily Europe, you’ll find lingerie sets, pajamas, lounge wear, bridal accessories and exclusive beauty products at the site in Vienna.
“He’s just a little bit proud,” Sarah Wiener says with a laugh, while her husband yells tidbits of information through the background of the phone line.
Here, Sarah shares what it’s been like to turn a boutique shop into a household name both in NoVA and beyond over the course of the two decades.
How does it feel to have been in business in NoVA for 20 years?
Sometimes it feels like yesterday and sometimes it feels like forever. But you know, I get up and go to work every day just like everybody else. We’ve met lots of great people who are now loyal customers and we’ve had tremendous support locally. On the day of our actual anniversary, people kept coming in saying things like, “I remember when you first opened and I thought, ‘Oh wow that would never work.'” It’s really crazy.
How has your business model changed over the past two decades?
When we started, we were offering primarily bridal accessories with a lingerie add-on. Because there were no lingerie stores in the area, we decided to make that our main focus. We went from having sizes A to J, to increasingly growing and now we have 160 sizes. We have 4,500 bras on the floor at any one time and we sell an average of about 20,000 bras a year. It’s a matter of listening to our customers. We are one of the largest independently owned, specialty bra stores in North America and it’s all through one brick-and-mortar location.
What are your thoughts on selling your products online?
We feel that we really need to see you and fit you. We could accommodate you over the phone, but there’s no online site. There might be a segment of the business online for people who have shopped us previously in the future, but to start we have to at least see you. There’s engineering, geometry and also a little magic and experience to bra fitting.
How is your shop unique to this region, specifically?
In the U.S., everyone is from somewhere else. But traditionally, bra manufacturers are European, and they all have a body type that’s fit with their population. We have everybody from everywhere intermarrying, so body types are really different. Also, women in the DC area spend a lot of time in the car or in front of a computer, and a bra fits differently when you’re standing compared to when you’re sitting, so it needs to work for all aspects of life. We work with a number of design companies to make recommendations of how the bras should fit, which makes our job easier and ultimately makes for better products for the customer. Plus, we offer complimentary alterations, so if we have to tweak a fit to make it better, we can change that for free.
Do you have plans for growth in the next decade?
There’s always room for growth, but it really depends on what the options are. We will just have to wait and see.
For more information on Trousseau, visit trousseaultd.com. // 306 Maple Ave. W., Vienna