Annapolis Valley Register
‘Bra Doctor’ named one of the Top 5 lingerie boutiques in North America
“We all need to look into the mirror and love who we see. This life is short, love it and love yourself to the fullest.” Lisa Barrie Essentials Lingerie
It all started 22 years ago when Lisa Barrie was going out to get a coffee.
She took her bra off in the car and tossed it into the backseat. It was killing her. She couldn't help but wonder why only women have to suffer while wearing uncomfortable underwear.
With that in mind, Barrie wanted to help other women be fitted in the right way with the right bra for their body, not just a size.
So, she decided to open Essentials Lingerie in 1999.
The store was the original and only bra-fitting boutique in the western part of the province for many years, Barrie said.
“I did a lot of my own research and courses, then began the quest to open Essentials Lingerie and become Nova Scotia's only ‘Bra Doctor,'" she said.
Essentials Lingerie specializes in professionally fit bras, sizing from AA-N cups, mastectomy bras and prosthetics. Barrie believes her store has been able to inspire women to feel their best and be comfortable in the “right” bra, not a “sized” bra.
“This is very important to us (that) everyone feeling comfortable in their own skin, not the skin that society has told them to be,” she said.
Essentials is a gender-neutral store with a wide diversity of customers, Barrie said.
“They trust us with their utmost privacy. It is important that people know everyone is welcome in my store and that I can help all.”
Essentials also caters to those who have gone through breast cancer, Barrie said. By fitting them in a beautiful mastectomy bra and prosthesis, she hopes to take some of the pain away.
“It is so gratifying to be able to help these ladies on their journey feel better and whole again,” she said.
“It truly brings tears to my eyes when they look into the mirror after they are fitted and they are overwhelmed to see that everything looks like it did before the surgery.”
Besides selling underwear items, Essentials specializes in doing boudoir photoshoot fittings, where women pose for photographs in lingerie or partially clothed. The photoshoot helps women step out of their comfort zone, be in front of the camera to document beautiful moments of their lives, Barrie said.
“I encourage everyone to do it; it’s truly exhilarating and rewarding for your self-love. Peace and happiness within is what we love giving to our customers.”
Essentials has only four employees, including Barrie and three other “Bra Nurses” — Sue Rose, Tara Cormier, and Krystle Drover. Having only a few sales associates in the store allows them to maintain a closeness and privacy for her clientele, Barrie said.
“My 'nurses' show my customers the utmost love and attention to each and every one of their needs. They go out of their way to help my customers see their bodies in a positive way.”
In the beginning of June, Barrie
was nominated for the fourth time and made it to the Top 5 of the Best of Intima Awards, an annual awards event that originates in Italy and is showcased in New
York City, recognizing the top finest lingerie boutiques in North America.
“It was like a living dream come true,” she said.
Barrie was also showcased in the Intima magazine, an Italian magazine, for the nomination.
Each nomination is as exciting as the first one, she said.
“It is a moment that I will never forget. I am truly humbled and grateful for such an amazing experience and to be nominated in such a huge way.”
COVID-19 lockdown has challenged Essentials to figure out ways to sell its products, but Barrie is thankful for the support of her customers. Many were eager to contact the store to make purchases when knowing it was closed due to the pandemic restrictions.
“I did curbside pick-up, free deliveries in the Valley and I also shipped a huge amount,” she said. “My heart was overfilling with joy knowing that my customers were thinking of me while we were experiencing the utter chaos of a pandemic.”
It also gave her some time to revamp the store and prepare plans for reopening, aiming to keep both her customers and employees safe when they come into the store.
“To this day, we still have some of the most rigorous cleaning and safety protocols around. I take great pride in that,” she said.
Women are too hard on themselves in this day and age and it needs to stop, Barrie said.
“We all need to look into the mirror and love who we see. This life is short, love it and love yourself to the fullest.”