Six months after making a big move, not just from one location to another, but also to becoming the sole owner of her business, Carol Hiebert couldn’t be happier.
Things at Undercover Secrets, located at the Kootenay Crossing Mall, are going great. Hiebert and her staff have been helping Kootenay women with their undergarment needs since 2007 when she first opened Fashion Foundations in downtown Castlegar.
After nine years with Fashion Foundations, Hiebert decided it was time to branch out on her own. “Now it is all me, I don’t have anyone to answer to,” she said. She is enjoying making decisions herself without having to check with someone else first. “You have more freedom.”
It is a decision she wishes she had made sooner and she encourages others who are thinking about starting their own business to do so. “Should I have done it in the beginning by myself? Absolutely. I should have started it on my own, right off the bat,” said Hiebert.
“In the beginning I was scared, I thought, ‘There is no way I can do this — I can’t do this on my own.’ I was so wrong,” she said.
But her advice is also to believe in what you sell, believe in what you are doing and have the passion to do it. “The biggest mistake people make is that they do something because it’s about money. It’s not about money, it’s about what makes you happy at the end of the day.”
“Having someone walk in with a question and leave with a smile on their face is the most gratifying thing. That is what makes this business what it is,” she said.
The store’s motto is: “Our business supports your secrets.”
“There shouldn’t be a woman walking around town, uncomfortable in her bra,” said Hiebert. That is part of the reason that the store keeps detailed customer records. Records of sizes and previous purchases help to simplify future purchases. She also emphasizes that confidentiality is of utmost importance to all of the staff.
Hiebert also believes finding good staff is a key element to success. “Your staff is number one for your business — if you don’t have good staff and you don’t have that good customer service, you don’t have a business,” she said. “These guys are great, I am lucky.”
Another gratifying aspect of the business is the mastectomy services. Hiebert has been a mastectomy fitter for 17 years. Her right-hand woman Randi Rye is also a certified fitter. “When you get someone that gives you a big hug afterwards, and they have tears running down their face because they feel so much better about themselves — that’s what it’s all about,” said Rye.
Undercover Secrets carries underwear, bras (including sports and yoga varieties), swimwear, sleepwear, slippers, lingerie, and about any kind of foundation or undergarment you can think of. They also carry Saxx underwear for men and Thymes bath, body and candle products.
The store is opened Tuesdays to Fridays, 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.