the LuluLemon experience

You all know that capturing joy is a main focus of mine, as well as delivering an amazing overall experience. When I come across other companies that do this quite well, it makes me want to applaud wildly and do happy cartwheels across the floor. Here is a recent experience I’d like to share… (Disclaimer: I am not a paid sponsor of the companies/products mentioned below… I’m merely sharing my happy experience as a satisfied consumer.)

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I need to get back to the gym. My body is craving it. But I still required a bit of motivation to get me there. In preparation, I first treated myself to a new FitBook (because I’ve noticed that I do better when I write things down).

And then, I decided to take a trip to LuluLemon for some new workout gear. I’d never been there before, but had heard a lot about this company and its products. I’d read newspaper articles, blogs, facebook and twitter postings about them, and have had people tell me in-person how wonderful they were. But I’d still avoided them thus far. Why? First of all, a designer name means little to me. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only woman in Southern California who can’t tell the difference between a Coach bag and one from Target (and I admit that I am ducking my head in shame a bit at this admission).  But that brings me to my second reason for never paying a visit to LuluLemon before… their prices.  Let’s just say that the price of one pair of workout pants from there is a lot more than my usual workout gear purchased from Old Navy or Target. I’m a bargain shopper, and am not interested in spending my hard earned money for the right to wear a logo.

But I have finally learned the difference between being just a designer name and having a high-end product.

I’m sure you all know what it’s like… You pick up some item in a store and wonder HOW in the world they dare charge that price for it, when you’ve seen something just as good at Target? That’s the designer name you’re paying for.

But I’m hoping you’ve had this other type of experience, too… the discovery of a high-end brand or product, where the item itself is soooo worth the extra money, and shopping for the item is a wonderful experience in and of itself.  Enter, LuluLemon…

Like I said, I needed some new workout clothes. I had a couple pair of workout pants from Target and Old Navy, and both needed to be replaced.  My pants had shrunk up to become “highwaters” (and not the cute, fashionable height, but the kind of pants that you can look at and immediately know they’ve just plain shrunk).  Both pairs of pants had random holes in them where the fabric had given out. And both pairs of pants were made of thin material, to where I was embarrassed to stretch in front of others, lest others be able to see the design on my underwear.

I went shopping and quickly got frustrated with my normal spots (Target, Old Navy, Macy*s), as I was running into the same issues as I had before. I was tired of looking frumpy during my workouts. I wanted to celebrate the discovery of new muscles and a leaner body, not make my body appear worse than it already was.

So I gave into my curiosity. I looked at the LuluLemon website and was impressed by all the information there. But then I saw the prices… eep! Breathe, just breathe… I told myself that I’d just go visit the store, that I didn’t necessarily need to commit to buying anything... and that maybe once my workouts got going again, I would reward myself with something small from their store.

I visited the new LuluLemon location at the Irvine Spectrum, and tentatively stepped inside. It was a lot less flamboyant than I’d been expecting. In fact, it was nice and cozy. The place was definitely neat and orderly, but I still had no idea where to start. Thankfully, I was approached by a salesperson at that moment. And this chick knew her stuff. She explained how everything was organized (from tight fitting to loose, and tops from least supportive to most). I still wasn’t sure where to start (other than grabbing one of each). But as soon as I told her my concerns, she narrowed things down further for me by fabric type (no underwear peeks). Sweet! I grabbed a few items, and she started a dressing room for me… even asking if I spelled my name with one or two “L’s.” That scored bonus points with me, especially when I wandered back and was easily able to locate the correct dressing room by my name written on a chalkboard on the door. Inside the dressing room there were surrounding mirrors so there was no need to step outside to see how things looked. Even more bonus points. And the bench inside the dressing room included a shelf so I could quickly stash my purse and street clothes without them ever touching the floor. Awesome.  I even noticed that they had a bucket of toys stashed back there for keeping the little ones entertained. I appreciate it when people take the time to think of little details like this that make the overall experience an even better one.

I was in and out of the dressing room a few times, trying different colors, fits, styles, etc. And each time, the salespeople were ready to help me in any way possible. At one point I was crouched down, carefully looking through a stack of pants to choose my favorite color/patterned waistband. Having worked in retail before, I was trying my best to create as little mess as possible so they wouldn’t have to clean up after me. But one of the salesgirls saw what I was attempting to do and pulled the entire stack out for me and placed it on the nearby counter, telling me to get messy and dig right in. And she reminded me to peek inside each one, as these pants were reversible, so they had a different waistband on each side. Neat-o!!!

I chatted with a few of the salespeople while I was in there. Like a casual conversation between friends… and definitely not a sales pitch. It was refreshing.

The clothes themselves… absolutely ah-MAZ-ing. I won’t go into everything about them (since I’ve already rambled on long enough, and you can find all the detailed info on their website), but here are a few highlights:  Fabrics with 4-way stretch. Moisture-wicking fabrics that spread the sweat evenly to help with evaporation. Pre-shrunk fabrics, meaning no more highwater pants!!! Flattering seams in all the right places (and seams that are kind to the nether-regions). Little pockets to stash your cash, key or card. Reversible pants & tops for versatile looks. And the cuts and fits are very flattering, as well.

Originally not intending to purchase anything that day, I actually walked out of there with TWO new pairs of pants (the “groove” crop and the “still” pant). I was incredibly happy I had made my purchase, and am already looking forward to a return visit (maybe for some tops next time).

And the finishing touch… my purchase was handed to me inside of an uber-cute, environmentally-friendly bag, the back of which is covered with inspirational messages.

Imagine my surprise when one of the messages on there is my newest mantra, which I even blogged about last week!

Other tidbits that piqued my interest (and my business-y mind) while I was there:

  • From start to finish, it was an entire experience, not just a sales transaction.
  • They offer free exercise classes inside their stores. Not only does this help build a community of sorts, but it’s a great way for them to cross-market, and also a chance for the consumer/client to test out something/someone new.
  • The sales people wear the items from the store. That’s right… they are selling workout clothing while in workout gear. What a novel concept.
  • The sales people know their stuff inside and out. (Ex: I had commented how the heather pants seemed to hide my, um, not-so-flattering parts of my legs a bit nicer than the black pants in the same style did. The sales person commented that not only did the heather pattern help with that, but that fabric also contained a bit less lycra than the black fabric… so these were a bit less clingy than the black ones might be.)
  • Their branding and overall message is phenomenal.
  • Even if you can’t visit a physical location, you can still have a similar experience from their online store.  The website echoes the look of the physical store, with not only plenty of information, but also a good sense of community and motivation.

All in all, I was thoroughly impressed.  Not just with the product itself, but also with the company as a whole. You can bet that I'll be sporting THEIR logo for years to come.