Leaving a Lacey Legacy: New intimates store supports women of all walks of life

by Lauren Fisher, photos by Andrea Paulseth

ALL LACED UP. Larissa (Lacey) Ashwell is the proprietor of Lacey’s Lingerie in downtown Chippewa Falls.
ALL LACED UP. Larissa (Lacey) Ashwell is the proprietor of Lacey’s Lingerie in downtown Chippewa Falls.

Larissa (Lacey) Ashwell slid a black lace panty onto the mannequin, completing the display ensemble. “This is one of my favorite parts,” she said of dressing the dummies. Her mother, Lynn Liedl, leaned over to comment, “Kind of like when she was young with her Barbies.” The pair, with the help of Ashwell’s father, Rick Liedl, husband, Zach, and the property manager, have been transforming a 4,000-square-foot shop in downtown Chippewa Falls into a classy, feminine space since August, preparing for the grand opening of Lacey’s Lingerie.

The store, which opens Dec. 1, offers a selection of products to meet every woman’s needs. Ashwell doesn’t stop at offering a large range of sizes – she also stocks sexy styles for breast cancer patients and survivors, post-surgery patients, expectant mothers, and more.

“If you’ve got it, flaunt it, and if you don’t, I’m gonna help you find something to help you flaunt it.” – Lacey Ashwell, owner of Lacey’s Lingerie

“I’m trying to bring options, not just boring beige clinical bras,” Ashwell said. The Pink Ribbon Room features lacey numbers with space for prosthetic inserts, soft front-clasps with fun patterns for heart surgery patients, and bustiers designed to accommodate use of drainage bags. Also on display are frilly pink slips and more designed by Dana Donofree, a breast cancer survivor.

Ashwell’s dedication to serving women through their medical experiences arose from her connection to family members she lost to cancer.Her grandmother battled breast cancer, and in 2014 Ashwell lost her aunt to breast cancer and her mother-in-law to endometrial cancer within months of one another.The portraits of these women hang in the store as an inspiration to her and others.

Although Ashwell works to raise awareness of breast cancer year-round by working with local health care providers to educate women about their insurance coverage and how it applies to breast support, she has some special plans for next October. She hopes to organize a fashion show fundraiser in the store to raise money for local cancer fighters. She also intends to work with local photographers, makeup artists, and boutiques to create a calendar to sell to raise funds for local breast cancer causes.

“Lacey is all about sparkles and girly,” Liedl said of her daughter. And sparkle, this store does.Glitter flashes up from the floor – Ashwell buys it in bulk to sow into the carpet – and crystal accessories shimmer from the displays. Her husband worried that people might leave the store twinkling. Ashwell, whose eyes and cheekbones were dusted with gleaming minerals, doesn’t see that as a problem.

What she does see as a problem is the often uncomfortable and frustrating process many women face when bra shopping. Fittings are handled on the fly, if they’re offered at all, and women often find that their size isn’t available at national chains. According to a 2008 study published in the journal Chiropractic & Osteopathy, 80 percent of women aren’t wearing the correct fit. “I don’t want a woman to leave my store feeling the way I’ve felt leaving stores, defeated,” Ashwell said.

“My goal is to bring back what our mothers and grandmothers grew up with,” Ashwell continued. She offers fittings for bras and shapewear, and is a certified mastectomy fitter. She wants to offer old-fashioned customer service in a comfortable environment to assist women in finding not only the right fit, but the right look.“If you’ve got it, flaunt it, and if you don’t, I’m gonna help you find something to help you flaunt it,” she said.

But it’s not all about flaunting.Ashwell believes that lingerie can be a boost to a woman’s own confidence.“You are the only one who knows what you’re wearing under your clothes,” she said, “but if it fits good, you feel good.”

Ashwell also aims to make her store male-friendly. She offers gift cards, and is happy to help a spouse or significant other select a gift for their partner.

Lacey’s offers camo-print products and concealed-carry undergarments for its “northwoods” clientele. Ashwell is also working on setting up a “vintage room,” which will stock vintage-inspired intimates. In the back of the store she has a referral board to local makeup artists, boutiques, and photographers for women who want to pamper themselves or their partner with a boudoir session.

Many women have insecurities about their bodies, and all women experience struggle at some point during their life, according to Ashwell. Her store celebrates women and their ability to overcome obstacles both minute and momentous. Liedl, who experienced a cancer scare years ago, recalls the fear she felt when she learned she might be ill, and the relief when she found out her growths were benign.“If I was to go through it, I would want to come to a place like this,” she said.

Lacey’s Lingerie •101 N. Bridge St., Chippewa Falls • (715) 226-0775 • facebook.com/lacedbylacey

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