Meet The Trained Corsetiere Selling Lingerie in Her Dream Location
The $110 million redevelopment of Coles Norwood signals an exciting new chapter for The Parade. But as construction commences it’s still business as usual for the longstanding traders of Norwood Mall. Wander down the mall and you’ll find a welcoming community of business owners from all walks of life, so there’s never been a better time to get to know the traders of Norwood Mall.
Selling intimate apparel and running a farm might seem like mutually exclusive occupations, but for J'adore Lingerie owner Gay Bawden it used to be all in a day’s work. Before moving to Adelaide seven years ago she was based in the small town of Penguin on Tasmania’s north coast, which meant having two jobs was the best way too make ends meet.
“I was running the shop and trying to run the farm on my own and it made for some interesting days, I can tell you,” she recalls with a laugh. “One minute I’d be moving cattle then going back to the shop and fitting bras the next.”
Bawden, who moved back to be closer to her family, began her career in Adelaide at as time when the industry looked very different. “I did my training at David Jones 35 years ago so I'm trained as a corsetiere,” she explains. “They simply do not give people the training that I got all those years ago... In a department store you’ll be taken to a changing room if you’re lucky, thrown four or five bras and left to your own devices but I go in and I stay with customers the whole time.”
Bawden specialises in supplying women who have trouble finding something comfortable off the rack in other stores and in addition to bras the trained corsetiere stocks a range of controlwear, singlets, camisoles, socks and hosiery. As well as something for every body type, she makes sure to stock something for every occasion too, because “it isn’t just about sexy bras - we all need the unsexy bras too.”
That broad range and dedicated customer service is why many of J’adore’s customers are referred by other stores with a more limited range. “Being the only true lingerie shop in the area means my clientele tend to be return and referred customers,” she says, and describes Norwood Mall as an “absolute dream location”.
“The Parade has always spoken to me as such a beautiful, vibrant part of the city. I never thought I’d be able to open here when I moved back to Adelaide, but when I came over from Tassie I was having a coffee at Uncle Albert's and just happened to notice a sign in this window saying ‘Vacant’ with the landlord's number. I was going to give myself three months to have a holiday but three weeks later I was opening my doors and seven years later, I’m still here.”