Bliss Fashion Lounge is resizing its business and leaving Forest Park after more than three years on Madison Street.
“People want more of my service and not my store,” said Carmen Rivera, owner and head curvologist at 7439 Madison St. In addition to providing a bra fitting and shapewear styling service, Bliss also sells lingerie, vintage fur and jewelry and sexual enhancement items.
“It makes me sad,” Rivera said, “but I know there’s bigger things on the horizon for me. I know if I keep providing a service that people want, it will still grow. It’s just changing, and change is good.”
Rivera, who is an employee of the Forest Park Review’s parent company, opened Bliss in August 2015, after studying retail by selling vintage furs and purses at the Forest Park Emporium. She was looking to transition into a new niche and had always dreamed of helping women the way salesgirls at the now-shuttered Marshall Field’s department store fitted her as a girl.
“With the Field’s service I remember that old lady with the tape measure around her neck, and the way she carefully made me comfortable and helped my mom and me find that I needed a certain size bra or whatever. She didn’t make me feel weird,” Rivera said.
She opened Bliss on the premise that no area retailer provided expert bra fitting and shapewear styling, and aimed to offer comfortable, beautiful products for women of all sizes. Rivera soon made friends with the other retailers on the street, like Scott from Hallmark who would always wash her windows, or the boys at Vapors by iTEO next door, who acted as her unofficial security guards.
But by the time her third holiday season approached, Rivera had gained a better understanding of her high and low sales seasons, with prom, weddings and new school years serving as her prime time, and the winter holidays representing a slow period.
“Once that girl gets that ring over the Christmas holiday, that’s when I start pushing, around Valentine’s Day,” Rivera said. “People aren’t shopping for their gowns for Christmas, so they’re not shopping for things to make their silhouette look better.”
Rivera realized she didn’t need to stay open seven days a week, and began only opening the store by appointment and on the weekends. Her appointment service boomed — Rivera connected with dressmakers to become their exclusive sizer, she travelled to women’s homes to expertly fit and empower those coming out of divorces and helped brides get fitted for their big day. A few months ago, when she met with her management company about renewing her lease, she told them she didn’t need such a large store.
She cleaned out the shop on June 24 and plans to be out by the end of the month. She will transition to private and digital appointments for the time being, while she looks for a new, smaller office in the area. Those interested in keeping up with her business should follow Bliss Fashion Lounge on Facebook and Instagram, and can get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org
“Change is ultimately really good, so I’m happy to change,” she said. “In hindsight, I like being able to look back and say that’s where my shop started. So I hope everyone knows I loved being here, and I will miss Forest Park, and hopefully I will be able to open up again when the time’s right.”