Many of you know local entrepreneur Molly. You may have been classmates at Hickory Flat Elementary, Dean Rusk Middle School, Cherokee High School or Sequoyah High School.
At Reinhardt College, Molly was preparing for a career in music. Then her life took another direction. Deciding that a music career was not what she wanted, Molly enrolled at Bauder Fashion Institute in Atlanta.
She already knew some things about sewing. Her grandmother, Elizabeth Hopkins, sewed and taught Molly some of her skills when Molly was growing up.
Molly and Cynthia worked in an upscale lingerie shop at Phipps Plaza. Molly noticed that for many women who shopped at the store there was nothing that was a perfect fit. They had to settle for something that was not quite right for them.
Having been amply endowed since she was a young teen, Molly identified with them. She had the same problem.
It was Molly who suggested she and Cynthia should leave their jobs and open their own store. It was only a few months later when LiviRae Lingerie opened at Town Center Mall located near David Bridal. It is named for the owners’ daughters.
Like Molly, Cynthia was experience working in lingerie. In fact, Cynthia had worked at Rigby and Peller in England. Queen Elizabeth II and other members of the British royal family purchase their unmentionables there.
The co-owners’ roles in LiviRae are well defined. Molly said Cynthia is the most creative and is like the Thomas Edison of design. She is often at a sewing machine.
Molly handles the business end of LiviRae. As you would expect, she does more than that. She works helping customers in the store.
Some of the employees think she may be too nice. They call her Molly Teresa. She counsels customers who share a problem. Among other things, she goes to homeless shelters to donate lingerie.
When LiviRae opened there was little money for advertising. But luck was with them. LiviRae was considered, along with about hundred other lingerie stores, to be featured in a television reality show — “Double Divas.” They were selected. Filmed mainly in the store, it quickly gained a viewing audience.
More publicity came their way when television star Rachel Ray invited the twosome to be on her show — twice.
Their big break was when they were guests on Barbara Walters’ tremendously successful “The View.” That was nationwide exposure. It was a gigantic boost when Whoopie Goldberg told them she thinks “Double Divas” is funny.
You might be thinking “sexy” because of LiviRae being a lingerie shop. For some, that is the case.
But you might be amazed at many of the women who shop at LiviRae. They are people of all ages and all sizes. No one is too small nor is anyone too large.
Molly and Cynthia, with their 20-plus employees, take their customers’ measurements and fit them all. From a 92-year-old lady with breast cancer to women who have just given birth, they find their way to LiviRae.
Others come from far and near to be fitted for special occasions like the high school prom or their wedding day. Men shop at LiviRae, too. They are usually with a special lady or shopping for a gift for her.
In one case, a church choir called to get fitted so their more amply-endowed members would look better when they were performing.
It is not unusual for LiviRae to get orders from out of the country. When some of these ladies do not know the size they need, they may send a picture of themselves. From that, Molly and Cynthia estimate their size and fill the order.
Whoopie got it right. Molly and Cynthia are fun people and they are funny. At the same time, they are serious about their business.
Molly says they have a mission. That is to make lingerie for ladies that fits properly, makes them feel good about themselves and is comfortable to wear. She believes it can change their lives.
Several months ago, the television show, “Family Feud,” asked 100 women to name what they tug at most. The number one answer was their bra.
Perhaps those ladies need to shop at LiviRae.
You may notice I have not used the word “underwear” in this column. That is because my 3-year-old granddaughter, Lillianne, thinks people who say “underwear” have a “potty-mouth.”
Marguerite Cline is the former mayor of Waleska.