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Interview with Tomima Edmark

Interviews with the “movers and shakers” behind the great lingerie sites you see online!

I really believe it is important to know who you are dealing with. That is one reason I put my name, picture, and background information on this site; so you know a bit about me.

I also go deeper into the lingerie sites I am recommending, to get more of their background, for you. So, you have not only my personal experience with them to guide you, but also their own “story”, to fill out the picture.

For January, I am pleased to post an interview I had this month with Tomima Edmark, founder of HerRoom. I hope you will find it as interesting, and useful, as I did!

Tomima_EdmarkMs. Edmark, you have an amazing history of creativity and business! You were born in Seattle in 1957, and graduated from the University of Texas with an MBA in 1983. After that, you had a successful career in marketing at IBM. Then, you boldly stepped out on your own, and began your entrepreneurship life. You invented several different products, over the following years, the best known of which is the Topsy Tail, which makes those beautiful pony tails and hair styles.

Along the way, you found time to write 12 books on subjects as varied as kissing to cigar chic for women!

In 1998, you founded HerRoom, and brought your skills and creativity to a whole new area of focus.

1. I am curious, what personal characteristics did you call upon, and where do you think you got them, to make the leap and start out as an entrepreneur? For most women, and men too, the loss of security would hold us back from stepping out from “Big Blue” into the wild blue.

I would say a couple of things. I’m one of 6 children, and the other 5 are brothers. I was a good girl, so pretty much was left alone to do my own thing.

I just always remember being alone and entertaining myself. I had very little parental involvement.

I also always wanted to be a success. When the bus I was on would go over railroad tracks, I put my two fingers on the roof to make a wish and it was always “To be a millionairess by the time I’m 30.”

I made it.

2. In 1998, the internet was vastly different than it is today, and online businesses were popping up and fading away daily, competing for a very small customer base. Starting any internet based business was another great risk.

What factors led to your decision to start HerRoom, an online lingerie site?

I wanted to prove that I wasn’t a one-hit wonder with the TopsyTail.

I also put a lot of weight on being naive about the journey. I was naive about the TopsyTail and the same with HerRoom.

So, I just think positive and go. I don’t listen to everyone telling me all the problems. I hit the problems when they arise.

3. How did you choose the name?

Originally, HerRoom was going to be powderroom. But, the URL was taken. Upon reflection, it would have sounded too much like a bathroom.

I knew I wanted two sites and wanted the names to sound married. HerRoom and HisRoom were available so I grabbed them.

4. How did you promote/market HerRoom, to build it to its current level?

The site has grown steadily. Basically PPC campaigns have been the marketing of the sites.

Early on I spend $35K to buy a list of email addresses to market to. The result was only like $5K in sales. I learned an expensive lesson – lists are a joke.

5. Concerning your business ventures, including HerRoom; if you could do it again, would you? And if so, what would you do differently?

Yes. I would probably hire some different people in the beginning. Some of the hires were mistakes and cost the company for their mistakes. But, you don’t really know this until you hire them.

6. You have a huge selection of over 200 brands of lingerie. How do you select these brands for HerRoom?

We select brands that have a trademark that people recognize, or a company with a new point of view to their products that I believe in. For example, we had Hanky Panky, Commando (HerLook) and Booty Pop before anyone else.

7. What, in your opinion, are the basic items (must haves) of lingerie for every woman?

See “The Bare Necessities of Lingerie”

8. What are the specific most popular items that ladies are buying?

In bras, one of our top sellers is the stunning Felina Harlow Demi Bra.

For panties, a favorite is the Barely There Flawless Fit Boyshort. Tyra Banks raved about this panty, on her show.

In hosiery, women prefer the Hue Clear Control Pantyhose.

For shapewear, Miraclesuit Real Smooth Support Camisole is very popular, for good reason.

In camisoles, our lovely Sliminizer Color Match Tank in 10 different colors, is also a best seller.

9. What items do men buy (for women) most often from HerRoom?

This is a challenge with being an online retailer. We don’t actually see our customers. From our customer service feedback, men are searching our sexy lingerie department the most. They also buy a lot of full slips with lace.

10. Can you tell us about lingerie trends you have seen; changing styles, times, and fashions?

Women have gone from white to nude lingerie. Seamless contour cups bras are a must, shapewear that allows you to wear your own bra, pantyhose are back, shapewear that you can be seen in and not be embarrassed, the rise of boyshorts, and the leveling off and slight decline of thongs – I think women have thrown in the towel with thongs and decided to only wear on special occasions. They just aren’t that comfortable.

11. What innovations have you seen in lingerie (new construction, materials, etc.) and what benefits do they provide women?

Annette has the newest shapewear innovation with this hidden belt inside that can change the level of support. I think this is brilliant.

Commando was the first to come out with the seamless edge on panties.

Bras with spacer foam in the cups.

Cosabella now has shapewear made with bamboo so that it breathes.

Panties with wonderful edge seem to be popular, but I’m not a fan of them personally.

12. What time of year do you sell the most lingerie; Valentine’s, Christmas, or some other time frame?

Business is very steady.

13. Please tell us the “behind the scenes” process from the time an order is placed to final delivery?

The entire process is rather lengthly to describe, but I will say that if you order with us by 1 p.m., your order will ship the same day. Our orders are triple checked for accuracy, and arrive beautifully wrapped. We are very proud of our packaging.

14. What sets HeRoom apart from other online lingerie sites?

Best customer service, more information on each item. Owned by a woman who really cares about getting you into the right underwear.

15. What are you looking forward to, in 2010, for HerRoom?

Some very exciting things that I can’t talk about now. Today, we launched our new product page. Take a look, it’s fabulous.