Our latest Ladies We Love feature is with Fran Rowlands, the proud owner of the successful lingerie business Chez Ma Belle Lingerie, which specialises in professional bra fitting. Since taking over in December 2016 from her mum Adriana, Fran has given the brand a revamp and customers have been loving it.
Fran’s mum Adriana ran the business for over 24 years and with the help of her trusted staff gained an incredible following of women throughout Geelong, Melbourne and also country Victoria. Now, Fran, who was born and raised in Geelong, gives us an insight into what inspired her to own the business in Geelong and how she believes the business culture in Geelong is transforming.
What is it that you love about owning a business in Geelong?
Because mum had started the business and had already created such a great reputation for the shop, when I took it over I could already see how much Geelong was growing. Not just in terms of population but also in industry trends and being up to date with the many changes happening in the world of business. That’s why I decided it was the perfect time to give both our brand and the shop a new look to expand our market of women, who in the past may not have thought of us as their lingerie and fitting specialists. For me, Geelong is my home town and if I can help women just like me be more confident and comfortable, I’ve done my job.
How long have you been in the lingerie industry for?
After leaving the Geelong Football Club in 1998 to have my second child Bridget and to look after my first born, Isabella, who at the time was 18 months old, I began to help mum out when she needed it back in 2005. Believe it or not I’ve been there ever since! I’ve been in the lingerie industry for over 19 years and now as the owner, I definitely realise how many women genuinely appreciate what we do. We love meeting new customers every day and helping them however we can.
Why lingerie? What is it about lingerie that aspired you to takeover the business?
It certainly wasn’t by choice, I definitely would not have thought I would ever work in lingerie. In saying that, if I had worked in fashion I would probably be broke! Having worked in the industry for so long now, I find the lingerie and corsetry aspect of my business to be the most prominent. Both basic and dress lingerie as well as corsetry are the bare necessities for most of us and offer the perfect area for me to grow my business.
What is something you find challenging about owning a business?
Making the right choices in the amount and type of stock I order is definitely a challenge. If you order too much stock, it may not all sell so then we are forced to put it on sale. Ordering the right products is vital for my business to ensure we are turning over product at a steady pace. It’s particularly important for me to know my customers well and to have a good understanding of which product I sell the most of to help ensure they are satisfied when they walk through our doors.
What is the most rewarding thing about having a business in Geelong?
Having been born and raised in Geelong, I have a great love and appreciation for the region. I’ve also found having a business in Geelong is the perfect fit for both myself and my family. The ability to meet new people every day allows Chez Ma Belle to expand via word of mouth and we love all of our new and loyal customers, whose support we are so grateful for.
Where is your favourite place for drinks with friends & where is your go to for dinner?
I do love a good pub. You can’t go wrong with the atmosphere and tap beer of a local pub. Having lived in Barwon Heads for 25 years and with the Barwon Heads Pub just getting redone, I enjoy meeting friends there for drinks. My go to for dinner is anything local. It makes it easy to get home and doesn’t take hours out of my night. When eating in Geelong I do love Frankie on Malop St and Wah Wah Gee on The Pier as it’s great sharing food and the family loves it. I do love a good steak so I enjoy going to Squires Loft in Torquay. It’s a nice, local place to enjoy a great meal and glass of red with our close friends.
Thank you Fran for being a part of our Ladies We Love series, we wish you the best of luck and no doubt you’ll be seeing us in store.