The Rack Shack: An All-Inclusive Bra Boutique
The Rack Shack is an all inclusive bra boutique in Bushwick, Brooklyn that carries flirty bra's for sizes 28A-42HH. We spoke with Laura Henny, owner of The Rack Shack, on the shop’s purpose, how to she creates an inclusive environment and the ins and outs of owning a lingerie boutique.
Tell us a little about the shop. How long have you been operating? What was your inspiration?
We’ve been open now for 3 ½ years, and the shop is still growing which is very exciting. I opened because I wanted to create an inclusive space. I’m originally from the Netherlands, and I wear the bra size 32H. I’ve been this size since I was 14, and it was always a pain to go bra shopping. There were some nice stores in Amsterdam, but at 14, all I wanted to do was go bra shopping with my girlfriends and get something cute. Instead, I always had to go with my mom to older ladies’ stores – always resulting in a traumatic experience.
Then, I moved to New York! I was hoping that it would be completely different. And then I arrived, and I found a sort of situation similar to the Netherlands. That’s when I decided to open The Rack Shack. My mission was to create a place where everybody felt good about themselves – where shopping was lighthearted, and not a pain.
So, you say you wanted to create a space where everyone felt good. How do you think that lingerie can affect someone’s self-esteem?
Growing up, I experienced the same interaction over and over. I would ask the salesperson if my size was available in a cute bra that I’d found, and they would reply with something like “Oh no, not for your body.” It was so hurtful, and made me feel like an alien. So, I really try to make sure I have a range of choices for everyone, and that people feel sexy and confident in them.
Lingerie can help a lot with self-esteem. When you find lingerie that fits beautifully, in a style that you love, and you feel good in it – you can feel like a million bucks! But when something fits incorrectly, or you are only given beige or white bras with super-full coverage that make you feel like a grandma – it can really hurt your self-esteem too.
How important is finding the right fit?
Finding the right fit is very important. A piece can be gorgeous, and you can feel sexy in it, but if you’re not comfortable, or if it doesn’t fit, or if it pulls on your shoulders or pokes you with wires – you won’t feel good in it!
What does inclusivity mean to you and The Rack Shack?
Inclusivity is essentially my number one priority in the store. I don’t want any customers feeling like their bodies are weird, or they don’t belong. I treat everyone the same – and with respect – regardless of age, body type, race, or gender. I have cis male customers that just like to wear lingerie. I have plus-size customers. I have core-size customers. I have customers coming to my shop all the way from the Bronx because they feel racially profiled in other stores. I have so many types of customers that inclusivity is essential. It’s my number one priority at The Rack Shack.
Have you seen any improvements in regards to inclusivity within the Intimate Apparel Industry?
Yes, but I think it could be much, much better. I think smaller, younger brands tend to be more conscious of size-ranges and nude-ranges. Some more established brands are conscious as well – like Panache and Curvy Kate. But overall, I think there’s still a lot of room for improvement.
What advice do you have for other retailers, or other people looking to open intimate apparel boutiques?
Well first, start with enough money – ha! It’s much more expensive than you think. That’s what I experienced. I didn’t start with enough money, so it took a lot longer to start up.
Also, be inclusive! Not only will it make your customers feel good, but it’s good for business! There are a lot of shops that only cater to either core-sizes, or fuller-bust sizes starting from a D cup. When they do this, they’re missing a very big group of potential customers who have no idea what their size is. I’ve noticed, especially in smaller-bust customers who don’t realize that it’s possible for them to be a D cup or larger, that perceptions in sizing are very flawed. A customer could think they’re a 36C because they’ve only shopped in core-size shops, when in reality, a 32F would fit them much better. Customers won’t come in if they believe they’re out of your size range.