Hope Suhr, owner of Hope’s Chest Co., a bra boutique located at 31630 Railroad Canyon Road #15, Canyon Lake, California, has been selected to receive the Small Business Administration’s 2013 Region IX Women in Business Champion of the Year Award. Suhr was nominated for the Award by Nicole Kinney, Director of the Inland Empire Women’s Business Center in recognition of her efforts to improve opportunities for women in business. According to District Director Adalberto Quijada,
The idea for the business came from her own brassier fitting experience which changed her look, comfort, and life. Following that experience Hope studied the culture of the brassier and its proper fit and function in everyday life. She started the business as a home-based business selling bras in the evening at private parties while employed as a lead sales agent for a manufacturing consulting firm.
When she was laid off from that job in 2011, she decided to go all-in, opening the retail boutique her business currently occupies and hiring several employees.
Hope’s Chest Co. has been featured in the North County Times, the Californian, Southwest Riverside Lifestyles magazine, and also in the Temecula Valley based Business Scene magazine. Hope has been a guest speaker and exhibitor at a variety of events including Loma Linda Medical Center’s Speaking of Women’s Health, Fallbrook Hospital’s Healthy Woman’s program and other women’s wellness groups. She’s currently in the process of writing a book on bras and bra fittings.
Some of Suhr’s efforts to increase business and financial opportunities for women include hosting and conducting a sales training series; training her employees through Hope’s Chestology University, where they undergo a 3 month training process learning professional fitting techniques in addition to skills such as purchasing, inventory control, and QuickBooks POS software; conducting outreach and sharing information with women’s wellness groups; hosting an in-store educational series for women where local female business owners share their knowledge and increase the exposure of their businesses; and fundraising and advocacy for breast cancer awareness through activities such as a recycled bra art show; making donations to Michelle’s Place during breast cancer awareness month for every pink bra sold in the store; and supporting organizations such as Race for the Cure and Reality Rally.
Suhr, who sits on the board of the Inland Empire Chapter of the National Association for Women Business Owners (NAWBO-IE), has also built relationships with other tenants in the shopping center where her business is located allowing her to partner with other female-themed businesses in creating a focal point and coordinating activities to drive foot traffic such as blood drives and other activities.