Tara Lai is the founder of Avec Amour Lingerie Boutique, one of the few lingerie boutiques we have in Hong Kong that stocks designer lingerie from all over the world. Designed like a little boudoir tucked up on the 8th floor of VPlus Building on Wellington Street, it is a place where you can let your sexy self out and try out all their lingerie to your hearts content. Tara is originally from Melbourne but while in Hong Kong 10 years ago, started a waxing salon called Nude Beautique Waxing & Beauty Salons and launched Avec Amour Lingerie 5 years later. Ever the entrepreneur, she is a master at juggling business and family life. We speak to her to learn about the lingerie business and how she does it all.
Tell us about yourself, where do you live and what do you love about your city?
I’m originally from Melbourne, Australia however have lived in Asia for the past 16 years. I’m an entrepreneur, I started my Company 10 years ago with Nude Beautique Waxing & Beauty Salons in Hong Kong and then later Avec Amour. Lastly and more importantly I’m a mother of three wonderful kids who amaze me every day.
We are currently based in Singapore and we are loving it here. There is so much greenery and open space which is great for the kids as well as plenty of entertainment for me and my husband for date nights.
When did you start Avec Amour and how has it evolved today?
I started Avec Amour in 2011 branching out from my established beauty business Nude Beautique (Waxing & Beauty Salons in HK). Nude is most famous for Brazilian waxing so I thought bringing lingerie would complement both businesses.
Since I did have a strong established business that I could leverage from, I had the capital to start Avec Amour on my own. In the beginning, it did feel like a shopping spree which was so much fun. However, with all businesses, it’s a fast learning curve and plenty of ups and downs especially when you’re new to the industry.
It has been over 5 years now and Avec Amour is proud to be growing from our boutique in Central to also having our online lingerie website.
How is Avec Amour different from other lingerie boutique and how do you decide what to buy for the boutique?
I believe we are different because we try to be more approachable and accessible to all women. By having a range of sizes, styles and prices, from fashion-forward and sexy to everyday and practical pieces. We cater to a wide range of women from the high flying fashionista, university student and stay-at-home-mom.
Lingerie is intimidating as it is and there are plenty of lingerie boutique that look very glamorous but most women would not feel comfortable walking into (not skinny enough / not big bust enough, not rich enough). So, with Avec Amour, we try to be more approachable and accessible to all women. Our online lingerie site also allow our customers, both women (and men) not to feel judged or embarrassed about what they buy.
How big is the lingerie market in Hong Kong?
The lingerie market in Hong Kong is still fairly small however I believe that it is growing with more people being aware of designer lingerie and appreciating beautiful lingerie not just in style but quality too.
Avec Amour lingerie are quite seductive, racy cup-less, sheer panties, suspender belt? How popular are these items?
We have a great line-up of sexy lingerie and they do really well. I have found some amazing innovative lingerie pieces that are unique, luxurious and eye-catching to both men and women. A couple of our most popular items would be L’Agent by Agent Provocateur Lace Playsuit that has an open back and Bluebella Emerson set that has cut out cupless bra and matching harness panties..
You seem to know a bit about seducing with lingerie. Tell us is it more for the women or for the men?
Both! For men, it’s obvious but I believe it should be more for the women. Wearing sexy lingerie is a confidence booster even if the woman doesn’t have a man to view. It’s like when a woman puts on a pair of high heels- all of a sudden she stands taller, and oozes confidence. So a woman who wears sexy lingerie that she is comfortable in makes her feel confident and sexier which is attractive to men.
What works and why in your opinion?
Black lingerie always works, its safe, it suits everyone and its sexy. When selecting sexy lingerie I suppose it’s a bit of both, I would have to think it’s sexy as well as if it is sellable. Items that are too extreme, intimating or too complicated don’t usually work.
Who buys these racy sexy lingerie?
I can’t tell the usual type of person who buys racy sexy lingerie as a lot of orders are online. In general, women have a larger variety of styles that they go for from a bra & panty set or slip to something more adventurous and daring.
Men on the other hand are quite similar, they go for black and see-through pieces.
Describe your typical work day from when you get to office till when you leave? What do you spend the most amount of time on?
My usual day would be catching up on emails first, jumping on a few calls then working through whatever needs my attention which is usually between marketing and operations. For me marketing probably takes the most about of time for me as there is so much to consider from our website to social media to in-store displays.
3 biggest trends in your area that you have seen and will impact your business in 2017 and beyond?
Biggest trends I foresee is bralettes, sporty swimwear styles and brighter hues in lingerie in 2017.
What are top qualities you look for when hiring?
Hiring good people is tough and for me the most important factor is attitude. Technical skills are trainable however a poor attitude or bad ethics is not.
From there it is a matter of trial and error and within a month you can usually tell if the person is right for the job or not.
Best advise you ever got? (from whom) that shaped you, that contributes to your success
The best advice would have been at the inception of my business idea. I was extremely nervous, full of doubt and just scare about taking the plunge as most people are, and I got a book called “Screw it, Just Do it”. Funny enough it was just what I needed to hear.
I would give similar advice, if you truly believe in your idea you should go for it and not be held back by doubt or discouragement.
What do you belief is true about money and success…
Money is a means to get by but is not the source of success. For me, I feel at this point in my life successful because of where I am professionally and personally.
If you can change 1 thing in the world today in a instance, what would it be?
The 2016 US election. That Donald Trump did not become the president of the United States of America.