Johanna Bolhoven of See-Saw Lingerie in Hale
So Altrincham recently met Johanna Bolhoven, who took ownership of See-Saw, the renowned lingerie, swimwear and nightwear boutique in the heart of Hale village, in September last year. See-Saw was set-up by Penny English in 1991 and is a much-loved member of the Hale retail community. Johanna has worked alongside Penny for many years and she is the ideal person to take over, allowing Penny to take a well earned break and spend more time with her family down in the South West. In fact, Johanna is uniquely qualified to take on and preserve this established business, combining a background in marketing and public relations with experience of fashion retail.
See-Saw is a much loved part of the Hale retail community
Johanna started her career as a media planner/buyer for an advertising agency, before moving on to take up numerous marketing roles within the creative industries including working for TV, film, radio, digital and tech, retail, museums and art galleries. However, whilst most people have hobbies, Johanna has parallel careers and she has always worked in a freelance capacity alongside her ‘day’ job(s).
Predictably, Johanna’s interest in fashion led her to take on even more! Her keen eye for style had always been appreciated by friends who often asked her to accompany them on shopping trips. Eventually she decided to turn this talent into a career and train as a personal shopper with organisations including House of Fraser. This love of fashion also inspired her to take a course in visual merchandising and buying at London School of Fashion. Seven years ago, Johanna consolidated her various business interests and established Ragtrade Productions offering fashion PR, styling and personal shopping services. Whether it’s a red carpet gown or something to wear for the school run, Johanna has styled everyone from celebrities and high profile business women to normal “everyday” people.
Now as the owner of a successful lingerie shop, Johanna’s knowledge of and enthusiasm for the different brands and styles sold by See-Saw is engaging. She is familiar with the history and unique characteristic of the various lingerie and swimwear houses stocked by the shop - Prima Donna, Empreinte – both producing beautiful lingerie and swimwear for the fuller figure; Marie Jo, Simone Pérèle and Aubade – one of Johanna’s favourite and the oldest French lingerie brand. See-Saw is also proud to be the largest stockist in the North West of Roidal, a Spanish swimwear brand that specialises in high quality, perfectly fitting swimwear.
See-Saw stocks a range of premium quality lingerie and swimwear
In common with outerwear, lingerie and swimwear buying takes place a couple of seasons in advance so Johanna, together with Penny, is buying now for Autumn Winter 2017. The Spring Summer collections are starting to arrive in-store now and most will be available by the end of February. She reliably informs me that for SS17, the lingerie colour palette is awash with everything from pretty and delicate pastels to punchy prints. Colour is provided via soft colours of powder blue, accents of orange and shades of blush. Johanna explains that swimwear colours tend to be brighter to reflect the sunnier climes in which they are worn. This season will see plenty of corals, turquoise and yellow.
Johanna stresses the importance of wearing the right sized bra. Remember when everyone thought that they were a 36B? The most common sizes now are 32D and 34E but more and more 30Es are being sold. The change in sizes is not because women’s bodies are changing but because more women are now getting measured properly. Having said that it is still common for women to come into the shop to be measured and discover that they have been wearing the wrong bra size for years! As we all know women’s bodies come in an infinite variety of shapes and sizes. The range of brands that See-Saw stocks and the experience of the staff ensures that everyone can be fitted with the right bra for them.
Pretty pastel shades are still a feature of lingerie ranges in SS17
Johanna doesn’t plan to make huge changes to See-Saw, she values its tradition of quality and excellent customer service. However, she does intend to further develop the shop’s website so that it tells the story of See-Saw and its values, and encourages more women to come into the shop to be fitted correctly. The use of social media is bringing in a younger clientele and platforms such as Instagram and Facebook are ideal for promoting the beautiful collections.
Johanna is also keen to further develop an events programme for the shop. She is planning to host VIP customer evenings with previews of new collections, fitting sessions, fizz, pampering, and styling workshops. The events will finish with dinner at one of Hale’s restaurants. See-Saw has a tradition of hosting such events to raise money for the shop’s chosen charities, Prevent Breast Cancer and the MS Society. See-Saw is also a centre for collecting used bras that are sent to women in the developing world.
Johanna and Penny have worked together for many years
Former owner, Penny, still plays an active role in the business and as well as attending buying shows with Johanna, she occasionally works in the shop and makes appointments to fit customers. Johanna hopes to continue a tradition that she has developed with Penny of taking See-Saw ‘on tour’! The pair have delivered their talk “Simply Sassy” to women’s groups across Cheshire. Penny demonstrates how a properly fitting bra can make a difference to posture and the appearance of clothing and conveys important messages about breast health awareness. Johanna, with her personal stylist hat on, demonstrates how to choose clothes that fit and flatter.
So, if you don’t manage to catch Johanna in See-Saw, she’ll be elsewhere doing some freelance PR work, addressing a women’s group or on a shopping expedition with a client. You could also try the Cinnamon Rooms where she is learning to dance or perhaps her Kung Fu class – yes, Johanna does manage to fit some actual hobbies into her life as well as everything else!
For a 10% discount off See-Saw's range of silks which includes pyjamas, robes, slips and camisoles, please quote code VALENTINE10 at the till. The offer is valid until 5.30pm on Tuesday 14th February. (Offer excludes beachwear)
See Saw Lingerie
186 Ashley Road, Hale WA15 9SF
0161 928 1072