Lorraine Roy Designer Apparel and Bridal Boutique has been a fixture in Danvers square for over 59 years, but owner Jeannie Hennessey wants you to know, “This is not your mother’s bridal store.”
Hennessey, who purchased the shop three years ago, has worked tirelessly to appeal to a wider demographic by bringing in fashions from top designers for everyday and career-wear, in addition to the fine formal wear Lorraine Roy has always been known for.
“We want you to come in even when you don’t have a wedding to go to," she said. “What we’re trying to do, and I think what we’ve achieved, is to bring the age down to the 45-65 set. These are fashion conscious ladies, who want to come in on a Saturday morning for a fun outfit to wear that night.”
To get the word out about their new products for young women and moms, Hennessey is announcing an opportunity for someone to win a new outfit from Lorraine Roy with their new campaign starting August 15: “Chic Mom Makeover.”
To enter the contest, send an email to Lorraine Roy with your response to, "Why I need a chic mom makeover," in 200 words or less. You must be willing to share your responses with the public who will vote for their favorite online, once three finalists are chosen. The winner will receive up to five separate pieces or an outfit ensemble worth up to a $1,000 retail value.
The winner will be announced September 30.
“We want to let chic moms know we have a great collection for them to wear to work or for a night out on the town. We’ve got great sweaters and trench coats, as well as rehearsal and cocktail dresses," she said. "My daughter wears my outfits to work and she’s a teacher. This is really not your mother’s Lorraine Roy, anymore, you don’t need to have a wedding coming up to come in, that’s what I want ladies to know. It used to be a mother of the bride store, but now it’s really fashion forward, so everyone will find something in here.”
Hennessey explained why she opted to feature Mom's for her give-away contest: “Moms work hard and maybe they want to want to spruce up their wardrobe or have a little fun dressing for a night out. [There are moms] working from home, which I did for many years telecommuting - they wind up working in their puffy slippers; or others are working in scrubs all day; let’s give them a little dress and new shoes to get out for a night. The kids are going back to school, so we want one mom to win this wardrobe and give them a little boost.”
Hennessey attends four to five fashion shows in New York City a year to bring in the latest in high fashion couture. While she admits that owning the boutique has been a dream of hers, she is quick to credit her team for their professionalism and expertise.
“I’m surrounded by very competent women, it’s certainly is not just me. Amanda Smith is my store manager... she does the buying with me and she’s right there with me with every crazy idea I have, she’s been fantastic. Diane Brinkley actually went to school for fashion merchandising, so she says she living her dream- she does all the inventory and since she’s a former business owner (of the former Murphy’s Fruit Mart), she is also on the sales end; Cheryl Gould is my social media person, so she keeps our website and facebook page updated, and Grand Bourque dresses up the front windows, which catches everyone’s attention. Those four ladies just bring it everyday. It's where we all want to be- so its very rewarding.”
Soon after entering semi-retirement from a family business, Hennessey admits that she was looking for the next thing when she took a job working at Lorraine Roy. She soon realized she loved the business, and since she had always wanted to open a boutique “someday,” she decided to make a move and buy the business.
A lifelong philanthropist, the boutique has provided an outlet by which Hennessey can work her charitable causes and give back. In just three years, she raised $30,000 for Ovations for the Cure of Ovarian Cancer in 2009 and over $50,000 for the Huntington's Disease Society of America in 2010 with high-profile events that featured spectacular fashion shows, celebrity guests, and sell-out crowds. “Its been such a blast. I love it, I just absolutely love it. I’ve always been involved in philanthropic events, and always participated in anything I can do to raise money for charities, so this is a really good fit for me.”
What’s next for Lorraine Roy?
Currently, Hennessey is in the process of starting a sister boutique for plus sizes that will be it’s own entity. Although she carries sizes up to size 28 at Lorraine Roy, her passion is to expand it to allow women who are not a size 8 to enjoy the optimal boutique experience. “I have plus sizes, and it’s very popular because other boutiques do not," she said. "Everyone who comes in can try something on, and not have to wonder what it will look like on them. It’s impossible when they see a size a size 12 and try to imagine how it will look on them."
“I’m still trying to come up with a name for it, but it is for women who wear a larger size than the usual samples carried by most boutiques,” she says. Hennessey continues, “Its got to be done, our average customer is a size 14, not a size 8."
What do customers think of the new direction of the store?
Almost everybody who comes in says, “Oh, I didn’t know you carried these things; and most of them are returning customers."