Talking Small Biz: She's offering Hope for Valentines

Jennifer Rosen of Hope Chest says her products are handmade. (Alejandro A. Alvarez / Staff Photographer)
Jennifer Rosen of Hope Chest says her products are handmade. (Alejandro A. Alvarez / Staff Photographer)
Posted: February 14, 2013

J ENNIFER ROSEN, 28, of Bryn Mawr, owns the Hope Chest lingerie shop at 20th and Chestnut streets. Rosen, a former manager and buyer for the company's flagship Haverford store,opened the Center City boutique in September. It features fine lingerie, sleepwear, shapewear and slippers.

Q: What made you decide to step out on your own?

A: I always wanted to open my own store but didn't want to totally separate myself from the Hope Chest. I knew there was a niche [in Center City] because we were at the Bellevue for 10 years and people missed us.

Q: What's the backstory behind the name?

A: A hope chest was something that a mother or grandmother gave the bride-to-be, a trousseau with all her needs and wants for the wedding day and honeymoon.

Q: What's the biggest challenge you faced opening your shop?

A: It's a totally different clientele from the suburbs. Suburban women are into the basics; they want warm pajamas and slippers. But here they want colors, a little bit more sexy and edgy because it's Philly.

Q: What's a typical customer?

A: Young, fashionable, hip and confident. I get all ages, but I'd say mostly between 22 and 35.

Q: What's the best-selling item?

A: A sexy bra, something that can be worn every day, but a little bit more fun. We have two types. One I call the T-shirt bra. It's a smooth top and goes under a fitted shirt. That's my bread and butter. And then there's the fun bra, a little spicier, more colorful.

Q: What's a typical bra cost?

A: An average bra costs $80 and a bra-and-panties set would be $150. You can certainly get a bra for $60 or one for $200, but our best-seller is around $80.

Q: What distinguishes Hope Chest from other shops?

A: A wide variety of choices at all price points. We're a specialty store with luxury items, but you don't have to spend $300 or $400 before walking out. I'm asked: How are you different from Victoria's Secret? It's quality. My products are handmade. The lace is fine fabric and not made in China.

Q: Valentine's Day a good day for the lingerie biz?

A: There's so much hype to buy your special someone lingerie, get her out of that shabby T-shirt or boyfriend's boxers.

Q: I see you had a "gentleman's night" Feb. 7 to gin up sales.

A: I was actually shocked but impressed by the turnout. They wanted to buy something she liked, that she was going to wear. They were not cheaping out.

Q: A night for big spenders?

A: Let's just say, on average, 50 guys bought, and they were spending about $150 each.

Q: Tell me about this brand you carry called Hanky Panky.

A: It's an iconic, very-underwear brand. They're known for their thongs.

On Twitter: @MHinkelman

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