WORCESTER – The O Shop is reimagining the way women shop for bras and lingerie.
Founded by Stephanie Ramey, the store was initially a “random idea” that struck her during the COVID-19 lockdowns. What began as a fun concept, turned into hard work and in-depth research as Ramey sought to create a store that was welcoming and addressed the wide spectrum of women’s needs.
Ramey wears many hats. Not only is she the founder of The O Shop, but she is the President of the Worcester Railers Hockey Club, with vast experience in marketing and sales. Through her initial research, Ramey discovered 65% of adult sexual health products were purchased by women, but the majority of shops seem to market to men.
“This seemed kind of backwards to me,” Ramey said.
As Ramey learned more about the lingerie and bra industry, she also began talking to people she knew -- and strangers as well -- to really understand her consumer base and their needs. Through these discussions, she realized that stores often overlooked women who needed specialized help, but who were too afraid or intimidated to ask about lingerie and intimacy products.
From Ramey’s view, the industry seemed to overlook women going through menopause, those who had mastectomies, or even women who experienced painful sex. Ramey even discovered a further void in the market.
“There is a real serious need for size diversity in basic bras, never mind the sexy stuff,” Ramey said.
Any woman knows that having an ill-fitting bra not only affects your confidence, but can physically be painful. As a result, Ramey carefully crafted a space that emulates someone’s living room; a safe space where customers can feel comfortable asking questions, getting help with bra fittings, or receiving advice about lingerie and adult toys.
In the future, The O Shop will be working with a sex therapist to host workshops on relationships, sex education, product introductions, and unique activities like making organic lube.
“I don’t consider this a sex shop, but really a heath and wellness shop, in all sincerity,” Ramey said.
When asked if there is a stigma about women embracing their sexuality publicly, Ramey said “It is important to break the stigma that these are dirty things. What is dirty about owning your sexuality?”
She added, “Women, we’ve been taught to sit and be quiet, and we deserve pleasure.”
Ramey credits her support system for bringing The O Shop to life. Her family was part of every step with her children helping paint the walls during the renovation and frequently stopping in to visit their mom. She also hired Tamara Hampton, Lisa Joseph, and Ally Gago, because they had previous experience in the industry, are upbeat, and can provide one on one help.
“I sort of built up this army of qualified people,” she said. According to Ramey, the neighborhood and surrounding stores have been incredibly supportive and welcomed The O Shop with open arms and she looks forward to possible collaboration in the future.
With its qualified employees and focus on comfort and empowerment, The O Shop is reimagining the way that women shop for lingerie, bras, and intimate products.
Lead image: The O Shop/Sloane Perron for ThisWeekinWorcester.com