Raenice Gray is your typical millennial fempreneur with dreams of building her own empire.
Highly driven, she’s a full-time accountant and full-time business owner. While her first business, Gray’s Accounting and Consultancy Services, is in line with her skills and experience, the other, Runway Panties, isn’t the typical go-to business idea for most, especially in a conservative island like Tobago.
Based in Canaan, Runway Panties is a space where women can feel confident and sexy, offering lingerie, undies, swimwear and more.
We spoke with Raenice about Runway Panties, where she explained why she decided to open a lingerie store in a traditionally conservative society, what’s driven its success and most importantly, why it’s important for women to embrace their sexuality.
How did Runway Panties get its start?
The idea for Runway Panties began in October 2017 while thinking about my personal experiences in high-end underwear stores and the need for a such a store in Tobago. We started off as an online store but quickly realized that relying on an online presence only would not provide the experience we were dreaming of. We opened the physical store in December 2018 and three years later we’re extremely proud and grateful for what we’ve accomplished.
Why open a lingerie store as opposed to…any other business?
Runway Panties was created to fill a gap in Tobago. At the time (and even to this day) there aren’t many physical stores offering the kind of items and service that we offer. It was strongly influenced by my experiences in underwear stores overseas. It was the feeling of bliss after you made your purchase of a sparkling, brand-new underwear and imagining just how it was going to accentuate your curves and make you feel like a WOMAN. I wanted other women in Tobago to experience that exact feeling.
So, what’s the Runway Panties experience like?
We want women to feel welcomed as soon as they walk through our doors. We want them to feel confident about their bodies and reassured that they are going to get exactly what they’re looking for. The experience we hope for each time we receive a new or existing client is one where they are satisfied, feel joy, excitement and bliss. It’s also a space where men can come to shop the perfect gift. We are here to make it easy for each and every customer. Whether you want a hands-on approach from us or you need space to look and time to think.
Tobago can be traditional in some aspects, was it difficult getting buy-in when you started?
It was difficult to get buy-in at first, but I think that’s the case for most new businesses. I remember feeling accomplished when the Instagram page hit 500 followers. Today we’re seeing steady growth with over 5,600 followers. There were people who supported with little to no persuasion because they were longing for the products, the experience and the service that goes with Runway Panties.
How have you been able to grow the business in such a niche industry?
One of the strategies we implemented from early was to ask our customers for their permission to take their photo while in the store. Some customers send us images wearing their purchase. We wanted to not only market the brand but to build our community. This encouraged potential customers to see themselves in the items and this made customers more comfortable to contact us and visit the store.
Why is it important for you to have women embrace their sexuality?
Whether we want to admit it or not, looking good changes our mindset. It builds our confidence and self-esteem. When we look good we can conquer many of the obstacles before us. Embracing our sexuality as women brings out the best in us. We do have hesitant customers however after a couple of minutes in the changing room they become more confident. They come to realize the changing room is a safe space. They recognize that there are many options to choose from to suit their body type. As they look into the mirror and see how sexy they look, that hesitation quickly goes away and they become more confident.
Shop the look for Christmas when you visit Runway Panties on Instagram and use our exclusive holiday code SEXYXMAS20.