Retailer Profile of Susan Storm J. Bruce-Steinbrink
One of the best things about attending a trade show is the opportunity these venues create to meet people. I’m convinced that the Lingerie industry has some of the most interesting, creative, caring and driven individuals in the world. At the last edition of the International Lingerie Show we met retailer and entrepreneur Susan “Storm” J. Bruce-Steinbrink. We were immediately struck by her great attitude and energy. Even though she was pressed for time and had appointments, she stood and talked to us about her views on the industry, her involvement with breast cancer fundraising and details about her businesses. To say that Susan stays busy is an understatement. In addition to running her own lingerie retail store and website, she does custom design lingerie and is actively involved with the Save the Tatas campaign and other fundraising events for breast cancer awareness and research. She also has a rich history with the International Lingerie Show. Needless to say, this was a story we had to share with our readers. So please enjoy this Q&A with Susan!
TLJ: Storm, when we met at ILS last month, one of the things that jumped out at me from your marketing materials was your boutique’s involvement with “Save the Tatas”. Could you tell us a little bit about that organization and your boutique’s involvement?
Susan: I have been personally involved in fundraising efforts for breast cancer research & awareness for over 15 years now. I have lost loved ones to breast cancer and I have supported other family and friends who had to face breast cancer head-on and are now ‘Survivors.’ I eventually become involved with a very strong and diverse bunch of people; this group was “Save the ta-tas.”
In 2004, they launched their ta-tas® brand of clothing, pledging to donate a portion of every sale to fight cancer. Their first donation check was $32.20, but the ta-tas® brand went on to contribute hundreds of thousands of dollars. In 2008, they introduced The Save the Ta-tas Foundation and invited some of their authorized retailers to become a member of the ta-tas® brand’s Retailer Matching Program Founder’s Club.
This new nonprofit public charity was created for the advancement of cancer awareness, education, prevention, and to aid in the fight to find a cure. I am honored to be one of the first inaugural members of this program, as I share their passion to end this devastating disease.
TLJ: What are some of the reactions from customers when they learn of your boutique’s involvement?
Susan: I’ve received nothing but praise and positive feedback. For many years it seemed that breast cancer was a ‘hush-hush’ topic, but today, nearly everyone has been touched, in some way, by breast cancer. Researchers depend upon our continued support. Advancements that are made today could lead to more effective treatments, and eventually, to a cure. America’s 2.5 million breast cancer survivors, the largest group of cancer survivors in the U.S., are a living testament to the progress that has been made, as well as the power of both society and science to save lives.
TLJ: Is there a cross involvement with Storm Erotica Creations?
Susan: YES. When Storm Erotica Creations was first launched in 2001, my main focus was on lingerie, clubwear, swimwear, costumes, and so much more, but with time, it grew into offering ‘custom designs’ of my own. It is through the profits from these new product lines that I have supported breast cancer fundraising (with my involvement in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk for Breast Cancer). Additionally, I have sponsored many events throughout the years for breast cancer research.
Through my recently opened Pink Angel Boutique in Sarasota, Florida (www.PinkAngle.org), I’m able to sell ta-tas® brand clothing & accessories, along with custom design ‘team logowear’ for breast cancer fundraisers & walks (as well as all other forms of cancer).
This past March, I was excited to sponsor a group of 80 tennis players to benefit the Sarasota Memorial Breast Health Center. I am currently part of a team called The Pink Pirates and together we will be walking in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure this October. I have many other events on the calendar for 2011, all of them benefiting breast cancer research.
TLJ: Are there any lingerie brands out there that you work with because of their involvement with breast cancer research and support?
Susan: Yes. I work directly with Nearly Me® Technologies, they design mastectomy products to help women look and feel beautiful after breast surgery; as well as The Mastectomy Boutique, an organization that provides local fitting specialists for my customers. The newest addition to my boutique is Brami’s by Kelley.
TLJ: What kind of products will be offered on your site, pinkangel.org?
Susan: Ta-tas® Brand Clothing & Accessories, Brami’s by Kelley, Wigs (especially the pink ones that symbolize the pink cancer ribbons of hope) by Estetica & Risque, Swimwear (again…lots of ‘Pink’) by Chica Rica, Crystal Jewelry by Western Fashion & Desire Fashions, Pink Satin Ribbon costumes by Rasta Imposta, custom hand-painted designs by Bahiye Fashions, and so much more…
TLJ: Are you planning any events or fundraisers of your own to help Save the Tatas or breast cancer research in general?
Susan: Beyond the fundraising efforts of my team, The Pink Pirates, for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure event in October 2011, I will be sponsoring events all year long in support of breast cancer research in the form of either a direct sponsor donation, boutique giveaways for raffles, or donating my time in support of the event. In early Fall, I am hoping to put together a fundraising event with the Bare Buns Bikers, of which I am a long-time member, and the Bikers Battling Breast Cancer, Inc.
TLJ: If someone wanted advice on how best to help or donate time or money for breast cancer research, where would you point them to?
Susan: I would first direct them to any local events for breast cancer. Keeping their fundraising local, allows their efforts to benefit their own community, but I would also encourage them to volunteer some of their time and energy for one of the larger national events such as Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk or the Avon Walk. The experience will definitely raise their awareness about breast cancer and touch their heart in a very special way.
TLJ: Before we go, you also have a rich history in the lingerie industry, could you tell our readers a little bit about what you’ve done?
Susan: Oh my….where do I begin on this one….here goes…
For years I was introduced to the International Lingerie Shows as a model known as ‘Storm’ from the Windy City, and to this day, I consider the vendors and management to be part of my extended family. Over time, and with my creative mind twirling at each & every show, I felt the urge to venture out and find my own innovative niche in the world. With the help of my growing list of supporters from the Lingerie Show, I resigned as Human Resource Director for Protégé IT Consulting Co. in Chicago, moved to Florida, and Storm Erotica Creations was finally born.
In 2001, at the young age of 49, I opened my first brick and mortar boutique in a little tiny strip mall in Lutz, Florida. Then, as my interests, designs and inventory grew, a much larger space was required, so I opened a new shop in Land O’ Lakes, Florida. Here’s a little more background—I have been a nudist my entire life and my first home in Florida was built within the walls of a very elite nudist resort in Land O’ Lakes. My second boutique was located directly across the street from my home, meaning that most of my clientele were nudists.
Now, you are asking yourself, “How do you make money selling clothing to naked people?” Actually, very easily!!! The only way that a nudist can express themselves is through their ‘sexy’ clothing & accessories. It may be a see-through-dress, or just the right rhinestone necklace, or belt; a killer pair of high heeled shoes, or maybe a wild feather boa to drape around their neck while dancing away in the resort’s nightclub; but when it comes right down to it….they love to dress up!
My business card states: Storm Erotica Creations, “Where Your Fantasies Begin”. Unique Fantasy Designs for Adults that take their dressing up seriously! Outfits that are Wicked, Wild and Playfully Fun to Wear…Anytime! Dressing up is not just for Halloween anymore…Share the Fantasy!
Simply said! Nudists definitely take their dressing up seriously!