Barbara Wilson believes that beauty begins on the inside, but she also knows that looking beautiful begins with how a woman feels underneath – underneath her wardrobe, that is.
Owner of Christina’s Luxuries in Boulder, Barbara is a third-generation lingerie boutique owner and an expert in helping a woman feel comfortable before she ever dons that classy dress, a pair of hot jeans or that stylish pantsuit. She was only 11 years old when she began helping in her grandmother’s and mother’s lingerie boutique in New Jersey, and now lingerie is in her blood.
“Lingerie is fundamental to life – the first bra, wedding night, nursing bra,” she says. “It encompasses life, it is self-expression. It’s the first thing you put on in the morning.”
In the five years after her husband was transferred from New Jersey to Boulder in the late 1970s, Barbara worked at Denver Dry Goods. But her true calling was to continue her grandmother’s lingerie legacy, and she opened Christina’s Luxuries next to McGuckin Hardware. And Boulder was the perfect location for a lingerie business.
“It’s a part of me,” she says. “It just seemed so natural to continue the bra business wherever I went; the mission is to fit every woman in the right sized bra and make her comfortable and happy. In Boulder there wasn’t anything like that – only the department stores.”
Barbara named the business for her daughter and only child, who was around 7 years old when the store opened, “because the sun rises and sets with my firstborn daughter.”
Christina’s Luxuries offers not only undergarments, but a full selection of women’s clothing, from sportswear to dresses, sweaters, jeans, a few accessories, perfume and toiletries, so ladies need look no farther to outfit themselves.
Barbara moved the business to 2425 Canyon Blvd., in the RE/MAX of Boulder building, 23 years ago – and many of her employees have been with her that long, with experience in lingerie and women’s clothing ranging from five to 33 years. All of Christina’s Luxuries employees are trained in helping customers find the correct bra size and the perfect bra, and their ability to do so is guaranteed.
In fact, Barbara attributes “the chemistry of the girls” to her store’s success.
“Everyone’s got their specialty,” she says. For instance, Ann McCauley, who has 20 years’ experience, has written two books on knitting and is “very knowledgeable” about fabrics. “They’re all such ‘people people.’”
Christina’s customers start with young women buying their first bra to men looking to purchase a gift for their wives, Barbara says.
“From the first bra to the last, we’ve got the whole gamut,” she says. “You know everybody in town. It’s so nice to help them buy beautiful clothes and feel good and look good.”
Barbara’s daughter, now 40, followed in her mother’s, grandmother’s and great-grandmother’s footsteps: she owned a lingerie store in Berkley, Calif., for five years. Christina recently had to sell her store and move to San Diego in a similar situation to what brought Barbara to Colorado. She is now taking a break to raise her daughters, who are 3 and 5 years old.
Although Barbara’s husband passed away in 1996, she considers Boulder home, and she can’t imagine doing business anywhere else, she says.
“If I was anyplace else, I wouldn’t have the success I do,” Barbara says. “Boulder loves its community and we support each other. It’s a good place for a woman to own a business. I’m not sure I would feel as comfortable in Denver or someplace else.”
When she’s not working – which is rare – Barbara enjoys reading and traveling as well as spending time with Christina and her family, whom she sees frequently despite the miles that separate them.
“This is the most fun a girl can have and call it a job,” she says of owning Christina’s Luxuries, noting she gets to travel to New York, Florence, Paris and Los Angeles to shop for her business. “This is fun. This is the best job. I love my job, I love my life.”
Christina’s Luxuries is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call (303) 443-2421 or visit www.Christinasluxuries.com.