a wire hanger with a paper cover that reads we heart our customers

Your Call Is Very Important To Us

We’ve had some pretty wild adventures in customer service since we opened 3 years ago. Sometimes we feel we never know what is going to happen next so we are very lucky that most of our customers are wonderful. Last week, we received some spontaneous praise before a customer tried the product:

Murphy’s Law: Find out what I have needed all my bra wearing life at 71 years old

Since I know how well it works, I know she’s going to be happy with our product once she receives it. She even promised to spread the word to her fellow “top-heavy grandmas”. We’re grateful to every one of you that shares your opinion of The Strap Saver. (assuming it’s good, of course! Just kidding, mostly. If you have negative feedback, we hope you’ll tell us so that we can make improvements.)

We’ve had customers let us know that their experience was less than stellar, as well. Andrea let us know that The Strap Saver wasn’t working for her.  The conversation lead to the introduction of a new version of the product. It serves another segment of the strap-wearing public and we love it. The 1” Black Extra-Strength Strap Saver is one of our top sellers.

There have been some other, harder to solve mishaps. We have one package sent priority that has been bouncing around Canada since the middle of July. We’re not sure where it is currently. Once we realized it was lost, we refunded the priority shipping immediately and re-sent her order regular mail. If the first package ever arrives (I have my doubts), it’s hers to keep. I’ll also file a claim with the post office in another week. (the joys of owning a business, endless paperwork!)

Our first goal with customers who contact us with an issue is to troubleshoot. Typically, the problem is installation and we’ve found ways to help. We’ve exchanged photos, talked on the phone and offered video chats. So far, no one has taken us up on that!

The Strap Saver doesn’t always work for the intended application. Sometimes the straps are too thick or the customer doesn’t like how it looks. In those cases, the customer returns the product and we issue them a refund. It’s not our favorite end to the story, and luckily it’s a very small amount, but our #1 goal is to make the customer happy. Maybe The Strap Saver didn’t work for them, but we know it’s a quality product, so hopefully they will buy it or recommend it to a friend in a different scenario.

Luckily, when problems do arise, most of our customers are understanding. I think it’s because we operate by the golden rule1.  I think about how I would want a company to treat me and act accordingly. We ship 90% of orders the next day. We try to respond to all questions and concerns within 24 hours (often less). I think we’ve received as many compliments on our service as we have on our product.

Your call IS very important to us. As is your text (914.266.2349). Or any time that you contact us via email. Please, continue to let us know how you’re doing or if we can improve The Strap Saver for you in any way.  If you’re not happy, we’re not happy.  It’s as simple as that.

1no, not she who has the gold makes the rules, but if we ever get the gold, we’re certainly making “do unto others…” the rule!

a storefront of la belle, in Alesund, Norway

Bras Around The World: Norway

In June, I had the opportunity to visit one of the few places in the world that experience the midnight sun, Norway. It is an amazing country, known as the land of the fjords, the Vikings and the trolls. (If you’re looking for Frozen reference, you might as well stop reading right now1).  The trolls didn’t impress me, but the fjords and the descendants of the Vikings definitely did. Many Norwegians are quite tall. And blonde. And beautiful.

Alesund, Norway

I can’t travel somewhere without taking a peek inside of a lingerie store. We stumbled upon La Belle, a pretty shop on one of the main streets of Ålesund. Once inside, it was quite large and looked like any lingerie boutique that I might find in the United States. It was pretty, feminine and welcoming. They had many of the same brands that we find in our small boutiques: Marie Jo, Freya, Fantasie, Wacoal. There was one German brand that I didn’t recognize but I didn’t take a photo or write down the name. I really wish I had, it was beautiful. (I’m also wary of the staff thinking I’ll see it here and then buy it online!)

The woman behind the counter was very friendly although her English was limited, as is my Norwegian. (I know important words, like iskrem! – ice cream) We managed to communicate and I told her a little about the Strap Saver. I can’t tell if she wasn’t impressed or didn’t understand. (you have your answer to that, I have mine) We were able talk about the bra culture in Norway.

Sightseeing in Geirangerfjord, an hour from Alesund. It was a long day!

She said that fancy bras were popular but that she found that many Norwegian women often wore a size too small. She wasn’t sure why. The saleswoman also said that the customers who came in from other parts of Europe, especially Eastern Europe, understood their size and were able to find what they needed quickly.

When asked the hand-wash vs. washing machine question, she emphatically said hand-wash. I wonder if putting bras the in the washing machine is something only Americans do. Maybe European machines don’t have the “delicate” cycle that we claim works just as well as hand washing (but, doesn’t). Is having a washing machine with enough buttons to launch the space shuttle is also only for Americans? Europeans don’t tend to be as concerned with bells and whistles – and space is at a premium.

I did notice the boutique prices were similar once converted into USD, which surprised me given that the cost of living in Norway is much, much higher. (2 burgers, fries and a soda at a walk-up counter was $25!) I wish I had thought to find a department store or even a discount store, to compare the quality and cost. I was too busy staring at the fjords, eating cheese, and driving on some pretty crazy roads (well, riding and navigating, Marc did the driving). It is hard not to in such an amazing place.  If I’m ever lucky enough to go back, I promise to find more information.

Have you ever been to Norway?  What was your favorite spot?

1Yes, Arendelle is loosely based on Norway but even the 8-year-old girl traveling with us got caught in the beauty and forgot the Disney story – you know, the one where the sister without the magical powers, cool dress, or song is the true hero….

one woman in four different phases in a dressing room with the text searching for your perfect fit

The More Things Change…

Lately I’ve noticed that my clothes haven’t been fitting quite right.  I couldn’t  put my finger on it, but they were looking a bit…  frumpy.  I have one friend who insists that I’ve been losing weight. Although my posture had been better since my back problems, the number on the scale hasn’t moved more than a pound in either direction. I finally narrowed it down to my bras. They weren’t giving me the same support that they once did. The bands were loose. Maybe this was the result of the mythical weight loss that my friend kept insisting was eluding the scale?!?

As luck would have it, during that very same week, I got an email from my favorite bra store, Sweetest Sin advertising that they were having a BIG SALE.  Who doesn’t love a BIG SALE? Angela, the owner, had done a wonderful job of fitting me the last time I’d gone bra shopping. She helped me through the process of accepting my new body, 40 lbs lighter.  Taking a trip to her store is always something special – it is beautiful, feminine and full of possibilities.

Angela’s first step was to measure me. Zero change! The mythical weight loss that I thought had translated to loose bras turned out to be simple wear. I hadn’t realized how long it had been since I’d last shopped, so I check the blog.  It was September, 2015, almost exactly two years ago. Bras do not last forever, even with Strap Savers.

It turned out I was in same spot almost exactly two years later.  Except – HURRAH! – this time, I hit the BIG SALE! Unfortunately, I was in a rush and didn’t have time to browse.  I relied on Angela’s picks based on my previous choices and she delivered quite nicely.  Thanks to her, I probably tried on some things I might not have normally considered. (ask your sales associate, you never know what you might find!)  I have 4 new bras – including a sports bra, now that my back is healthy enough for more exercise! – and I’m marking this weekend on the calendar.  I have a feeling they do this sale at this time every year. I’m not missing it again.

And – an added bonus is that Sweetest Sin accepts bra donations for domestic violence shelters, so I did many good deeds – gave some help to women in need (arguably the most important), cleared space at home, shopped locally, and did something to take care of myself.  Woo hoo!

So how long do bras last?

According to my bra guru, Erica of A Sophisticated Pair, a bra should last approximately 130 wears (I like this much better than an irrelvant time period. The demise a bra is directly related to how many times you wear it – and how you wash it, of course).  I have 7 bras, but 5 get worn most often and those appear to be less resistant to gravity. After doing the math: (365X2)/130=5.6153846154. I basically should have worn out somewhere between 5 and 6 bras. That sounds about right.  One is complete toast and I’m on the last hook with 3 of them.  The other 3 are definitely showing wear.  Ladies, do not fall into the same rut that I did.  Keep an eye on your support, you  deserve to look your best!

two envelopes, one black and one hot pink, a strap saver glued to a card and a satin package with the text change can be good

Check Out the Size Of Our Package!

Things are always evolving in the Strap Saver Think Tank – we’re always trying to improve our product and our process. Today, it’s all about what the product looks like when it arrives in your mailbox.

It started with rogue Strap Savers. Yes, these are tiny parts and it’s easy to forget to slip one in an envelope or to have one go astray when open the package. To combat this, instead of just popping them inside of our signature pink bags and sending them on our way, we are now securely attaching them to cards sealed inside of plastic bags.  Now the packager and the customer can double-check that their order is complete. If there are any discrepancies, we can fix them ASAP!1

Once we attached them to cards, the entire package was much flatter, which made me wonder if we could use paper envelopes instead of bubble mailers. The bubble mailers are pretty, but it’s so much plastic. It felt icky for mother earth and since our new packaging added a layer of plastic around the card, I had hoped that we could do better.

Ask the internet and ye shall receive! (this time, anyway…) We found these beautiful #7 coin envelopes in 80 lb paper that come in sexy black, just like our bubble mailers.  Even though the new envelopes are much smaller (6.5” X 3.5”), compared to the bubble mailers (7.5” X 5”), they still fit up to 3 pairs of Strap Savers. Overall, it feels like a win-win-win! (us, the customers and the environment!) Don’t worry – each package still comes with our hand silk-screened pink bags for Strap Saver storage. After all, this started because these things are easy to lose!

I was nervous when we realized we’d have to make these changes.  I was concerned that it would take a long time to figure out, that it would cost a lot of money and/or that I would be unhappy with how the solution looked to the customer. Overall, it took us a few weeks and I think we have something even better at a comparable price. One more obstacle conquered on the road to success!

1Our Return Policy is the same. Customers can always exchange their Strap Savers for any size/color/strength if they have ordered incorrectly, or return the product for a full refund – minus any additional shipping – within 30 days – if they aren’t 100% satisfied

A woman crossing her fingers and the text the wait for good news

Behind the Scenes at a Breast MRI

In February, I had my first breast MRI. At first, I thought it would be like the one that I had on my back, which was almost relaxing (minus the clanging of the machine). I was wrong. A few days before, I started to do some research and while I found some clinical descriptions of what was going to happen, I didn’t find any first-person accounts. So, if you’re on this page because you’re about to have a breast MRI – this was written specifically for you.

My breast MRI was part of the R.I.S.E. program at Memorial Sloan Kettering. To recap: I do not have breast cancer. I’m at high risk due to my family history. They watch me and make personalized recommendations for testing.

First, I’ll share a warning that my doctors gave me. An MRI gives very detailed photos. It’s very likely that it will pick up things that they might want to test further that will turn out to be benign. (known as a “false positive”). I was told to expect follow-ups and biopsies but to understand that it would likely not lead to a cancer diagnosis.

I was not given any special instructions for that day. They only wanted to know if I had any metal inside of me. (I do not.) Unlike my back MRI, I was not able to wear my own clothes of yoga pants and a t-shirt. They handed me scrubs and a robe and told me to get changed and wait. (I did ask if I could bring my phone with me to take photos for this blog, but was told no.)

My next stop was get an IV line put in my arm so it would be easier to add the contrast solution later. I was anxious at the idea of walking around with a needle in my arm but the nurse explained that they remove the needle and only leave plastic tubing. I could bend my arm as I wished. Although I couldn’t feel the tube and it did not hurt at all, I kept my arm straight. I’ll admit it, I’m such a baby at times. It was the idea of something in my arm. Very mature.

Now it was time to go to the (freezing) MRI room. I was put through 3 different metal detectors. One looked like a pole attached to a wall. I stood next to it and slowly spun around. Next,the technician checked me with a wand. The third was like the old-school airport security ones – walking through a doorway.

The next was the hardest part of the MRI – getting situated on the table. I was NOT going to be on my back, as I originally thought. I had to lie on my stomach over an odd contraption called a “breast coil”. It has holes for the breasts to hang down, the opposite of a mammogram – they want pictures uncompressed. I was then to lay my face in one of those massage-table-like donuts (not. even. close.) and extend my arms over the top of my head (think superman, flying). It took several minutes for them to position me just right.  Then, they were kind enough to pile blankets on top of me.  I rarely get cold, but the thin robe and scrubs were no match for this room. (If you have a pet polar bear, feel free to bring them!  They’ll be right at home…)

I was stuck there for about 45 minutes, without moving, while they took some photos, stopped, gave me the contrast (which may or may not feel very cold going in) and took more photos. The machine was very loud and I wish I’d brought better-fitting ear plugs. I tried to go to my happy place (vacation!) and breathe deeply until it was over.

Then, it was over. I was very stiff and it took me a few minutes to get up. The technicians were very nice – everyone I’ve encountered at MSK is always very nice – and helped me off of the table. I took my time getting back to the dressing room, changing, and heading to work.

Nothing overwhelming happened after. My day went on as usual. I wasn’t stiff from the awkward position or nauseous from the contrast. The Breast MRI was annoying, uncomfortable, and then it was done. I think will go much easier next time because I’ll know what to expect. (and hopefully your first will as well, now that you know one person’s experience)

As much as it wasn’t a big deal, I wish I’d done something nice for myself after – maybe a new shirt to change into? A breakfast treat? (my appointment was at 8:00AM!) It was anxiety-inducing for me (I always think of my mom in every aspect of these tests + the whole thing is awkward) and a little kindness afterward would’ve put a smile on my face a little faster.

As for the results, much like the DNA test, I spent the next 24 hours trying to keep myself calm, and not think that THIS time it really was the one. An MRI is some of the best imaging that money can buy. This is where they will find whatever it is I’m convinced is growing inside of me. But, Dr. Mangino called the next day (!!) and told me that the scans were clear. There was nothing they wanted to test further. She’d speak to me more at my follow-up appointment.

In addition to the joy of knowing that the best imaging showed nothing, I realize that I need (more than) a bit of an attitude adjustment. Having been around breast cancer since I was a child, it’s been a dark cloud that’s followed me around.  Probably more so since I’ve lost my mom. From the results, it doesn’t look like I’m moments away from being admitted for surgery. (when an active imagination turns into a curse) Maybe my fate isn’t already determined. While it’s serving me to stay on top of my health and get all of these extra screenings, it’s not useful to add stress to my life!  A Breast MRI is for not everyone, so if you are unsure, talk it over with your doctor.  As for me, I consider myself lucky to have access to the best equipment and doctors in the world and these results are helping me walk through life a little lighter.

A frog in a planter with pepper plants

Waiting for the Summer Harvest

Lately, it’s becoming been harder and harder to keep up with this blog. It’s not that I don’t have things to say – we all know I never am lacking words. It’s just that the ones that I do have don’t feel right. I try to take care to speak in a light, funny (at least to me!) way, even for more serious topics. Right now my jokes feel flat.

It’s not because the business isn’t going well – it is. I’m caught up on the books! (promise kept, so far anyway!) We’re moving forward with new ideas for social media and paid search campaigns. Our communications channels are strong and we’re sharing important messages that we think will interest our customers. Saving straps is a way of life! (nope, not really… but caring enough about how your clothes make you feel IS a way of life and The Strap Saver can be part of that.)

I’m definitely not done speaking. (Stop laughing. I might actually stop talking someday…) There are still so many subjects to explore. We’re working on the Top 10 Straps to Save. I have another blog about what it’s like to have a breast MRI (spoiler alert: my results were clear) I am working on a few additional installments of “Bras Around the World” but I’m not sure I’m doing this with my usual joie de vivre – and frankly, I don’t want risk boring either of us.

I think I need a slightly less demanding blog schedule while I find my voice again. (unless you’re out there, Cindy, and you have a moment to ask Santa when you see him…) I don’t want the blog to go unattended and not say why. For now, I’m going to keep tending to the business – much like my newly planted container garden – and publishing when I can.  More to come once the flowers are in bloom and I fully reclaim my verbose, sarcastic self!

a woman on a dock looking at the water during a sunrise with the text get ready for fun in the sun

How To Find The Perfect Swimsuit for 2017

It's time for 2017 swimsuit seasonI spent a considerable amount of time this afternoon trying to curate a decent article on swimsuit styles this season for our social media feeds. Considering it either is, or soon will be, hot enough to wear one in most of the northern hemisphere, I thought I’d have no problem (here comes the assume thing).  All I found were slide shows of teeny bikinis and one-pieces with more cutouts than fabric. The one common factor is that most would require you to become BFFs with a very skilled waxer. I even found an article that classified bathing suits by age.

Oh, FFS1, people.

I know it’s intimidating to go out with half of our body showing – especially when there are others who are very comfortable with most of their body showing (and look lovely doing it!).  It has never been easy for me. (swim shorts = best swim invention ever)  When I was younger, I worried about the size of my butt and my thighs. Now, it’s gravity. (cruel, cruel gravity!)

It took a lot of re-framing (and the wisdom of age) to change my perspective. Unlike all of these fashion articles, I now treat my swimsuits like a vehicle to fun. If I want to get in the pool to cool off, I need one. If I want to go to the beach to hang with friends and surf the waves, I need one. If I want to go snorkeling and see the pretty fishies, I need one. It’s not about being on display for anyone, it’s about getting to the good times.

I guess putting that in print  or on the internet doesn’t make anyone money. Fashion magazine would be out of business if they admitted that we are not the sum of our clothes. Since the “experts’ couldn’t do something that I felt I could pass on to you, here’s my real world bathing suit shopping advice (my expertise: being a woman and shopping for 30+ years):

  1. Buy something pretty/in a color your like.  If not, black works!
  2. If you truly are having issues with how you look, ruching is a fabulous invention.
  3. Try to find something that isn’t wedgie-prone (unless, of course, that’s your thing)
  4. Look for a zipper pocket. My swim shorts have these, I never realized how useful it could be…
  5. If you aren’t about a bikini, try the tankini – merely for ease during a trip to the bathroom (some stores sell tops in extra-long, so it looks like a one-piece without getting fully naked in a public restroom when nature calls)
  6. Don’t be afraid to buy separates – even from different stores.  Black bottoms go with everything.
  7. Do not wait!  By July, most of the selection is gone.
  8. If you hate the way that it looks and ruching doesn’t help, try to imagine all of the fun you’ll be having when you’re wearing it. If anyone judges you, isn’t it really on them?  Who are they to decide what you get to wear and how you have fun?
  9. If your straps aren’t adjustable, check out The Strap Saver for a custom fit without sewing.

What are your favorite “real world” swimsuit shopping tips?

Happy warmer weather everyone!

 

1This is officially the first time I’ve cursed in this blog. It takes fashion sites and swimsuit season to do it!

two stainless steel strap savers, perfect because it's strong, and safe for sensitive skin

What’s the Deal with Stainless Steel?

We had many choices when it came to materials for The Strap Saver. There are a plethora of metals and plastics at several different price-points. Our options felt endless but our goals were clear.  We wanted our product to be:

  • strong (after all, boobs are heavy!)
  • for everyone, even customers with sensitive skin.
  • made of something that would hold up to sweat, salt water and chlorine. (we’re active people and we need a product to keep up with us!)

When our smart engineers explained the benefits of stainless steel, it became the obvious choice. It’s light, strong, resistant to corrosion and plentiful. It was not, however, the cheapest but building the best product possible was the more important. We chose the most popular type – 304. It is also known as 18/8, which is imprinted on the back of most silverware.

For the science nerds, stainless steel usually contains 18% chromium and 8% nickel. It’s the chromium (mostly) that keeps it from rusting. (that’s the short answer, for more information, here’s the long answer.) For the history geeks, stainless steel has been around in some form since the early 1800s. (for the record, I’m all nerd and geek…)

It’s the perfect material because it helps us to build a quality product. We hate that so much that so much that we buy is disposable. Stainless steel will outlast several bras and bathing suits.1 The Strap Saver should not wear-out or be affected by sweat, the ocean, or the pool.

Bring out your shineAlthough it does contain some nickel, all stainless steel is classified as hypoallergenic.  The process of making it involves chemically binding the nickel so tightly that it cannot leach out.  Customers with sensitive skin should feel comfortable giving us a try.  (If there are any issues, we do have a 30-day money-back guarantee)

Stainless steel can also be beautiful and shiny (see: top of the Chrysler building) in addition to strong. We think it’s a great symbol for those of us behind The Strap Saver and those of you that use it.  (minus the susceptibility to fingerprints!)

 

1We cannot guarantee it against if they are misplaced, which is probably the #1 reason they’d need to be replaced.  Strap Savers are small.  The best we can do is offer those pretty pink bags to keep track of them!

two blue footed boobies, birds that are native to the Galapagos Islands

This Place is for the Birds So We’re Flying the Coup

The blog is going on Spring Break! Until we return, please enjoy these Blue-Footed Boobies. (The store, however, remains open and all orders will be shipped out on our regular schedule!)

The Golden Gate bridge of San Francisco with a small cross section showing the cables tightened with Strap Savers

The Strap Saver Rescues San Francisco

Supoort San Francsico With The Strap SaverOne of my favorite symbols the left coast (in addition to the Space Needle) is the Golden Gate Bridge. Some say it represents the entire country and our success from east to west. Although I’ve only been to San Francisco once, it was a wonderful trip. I have great memories of a beautiful city and sourdough bread, which is why I didn’t hesitate when Mayor Lee called and asked for our help.  

Construction on the Golden Gate Bridge began in 1933 and it opened in 1937, 80 years ago.  It was completed ahead of schedule and $1.3 million under budget.  (It’s possible that money could have been used for better materials?) It has a cable-suspension design and, although elegant against the San Francisco skyline, it has begun to wear. Decades of weather, seismic activity and pollution are taking its toll.  The support cables are stretching.  If they fall much further, it could cause permanent damage to the structure. There could be injuries and the 100,000+ cars that cross it every day could be stranded.  The city and the country would lose a treasure.

They needed a quick fix. After a consultation with our engineers, we suggested that Mayor Lee used the Double Saver Solution.  After all, the cables on the bridge do not come with adjusters! They sent us measurements and we made parts to their specifications.  We even commissioned an extra-large pink bag for safe transport across the country.

We worked with the Army Corps of Engineers, showing them the installation videos and demonstrating on tank top straps.  Once they were confident that they understood the process, they got to work.  As we’ve explained, it takes mere minutes to install (although, we’re not working with a cable made of 27,572 strands of wire).  Once the gear was in place, they tightened the stretched suspension cable with ease. The Strap Saver saved their stretched suspension wires* and the Golden Gate Bridge. The best part was the adjustability  If the cable stretches further, the city would be able use The Strap Savers to adjust the cables the desired length. The bridge was once again safe for all San Franciscans and there was much rejoicing.

When we started The Strap Saver, we had no idea how far it might go.  It’s exceeded our wildest expectations!  Mayor Lee is going to be presenting us a key to the city next week.  Don’t worry, we’ll post pictures!

*DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.  We can neither confirm nor deny if the Golden Gate bridge is in trouble…  simply because we don’t know.  We sell lingerie accessories.  And, The Strap Saver does not save bridges.  It cannot carry more than 10 lbs each in it’s present EXTRA-STRENGTH form.  This may change in the future, but not yet. We’ll let you know if it does! Happy April 1st!