Looking for the perfect nude bra and panties? Head to downtown Mesa.
MySkins recently opened at 29 W. Main St. It is the brainchild of entrepreneurial couple Jon and Marla Richards.
The business sells its own brand of nude bras and panties available in three styles and 20 different skin tones, all seamless, both at the downtown location and online. The couple came up with the idea for the business while on vacation.
"I had never been bra shopping with my wife ... but we were on vacation and she needed to pick one up, so I went to the store with her and they only had one color of nude bra," Jon Richards said. "She wanted a nude color bra, and it wasn't even close to her skin tone. I told her this might as well be black or white, or pink, because it doesn't come close."
The most retailers offer in nude lingerie usually is one color for Caucasians, one color for Hispanics and one color for African-Americans, he said.
"They feel like that does it, and we don't feel like that does it," Jon Richards said.
The couple then began planning their own business that sells underwear to match any skin tone. Prior to planning this business, Jon Richards was doing design work for theme parks, specifically architectural ornamentation. One of his projects was the Universal Globe at Universal Studios.
"We started working on this full time in September 2007, and we developed a line of 20 skin-tone colors that covers about 95 percent of the population, so women can truly, closely match their skin-tone colors to their nude color bras now," he said. "There's not really anybody who does the color portion of what we do."
The couple decided downtown Mesa was the perfect location for its specialized lingerie business.
"Downtown is an awesome little unique area," Jon Richards said. "There's a value there that exceeds everywhere else we looked."
Tom Verploegen, president of the Downtown Mesa Association, said the area has become more attractive to Web-based businesses and more speciality-type businesses. It offers ambience at an affordable price, he said.
"Some of the retail consumer products type of thing is down, but ... the speciality-type destination retail and e-marketing-type businesses are up," he said. "I can definitely see some shift. Hopefully more smaller businesses is what we're going to bank on, and then some of them as they grow with employees ... if they end up with 20-25 employees, it will make an impact downtown."
It's tough starting a business in a recession, and store traffic has been light, but MySkins is trying to build its online business and is attracting regular traffic there, Richards said.
"It's not time to quit, it's time to just put in extra energy and effort to make it successful," he said. "Our goal is to service the local community ... but the e-commerce side is really our focus. We're expecting the largest portion of our sales to come through e-commerce."