Emily Constantine Doren ’04
At parties five years ago, Emily Constantine Doren ’04 wasn’t by the punch bowl. She was in the bathroom, fitting other women for bras.
Today, Doren and her sister, Holly Constantine Ortman, own Lace & Day, a lingerie store in their hometown of Buffalo, N.Y. The pair aim to provide women with quality pieces for their wardrobes and, most importantly, quality fittings — a skill Doren learned while taking a break from her previous career in marine science.
“My sister and I had a lot of soul-searching conversations about our desire to work together and to do something different,” Doren says. “We both have strong entrepreneurial spirits, so we decided to follow this passion and leave our career-track jobs.”
Rewind to Doren’s time at Colgate. A geology major, she conducted Antarctic research with Professor Amy Leventer, then landed an internship and, later, a job that would keep her on the southernmost continent. All in all, she worked in Antarctica for about two years after she graduated.
But then, something changed.
“I decided I was done going out to sea,” Doren says.
After moving to Denver, she stumbled upon a bra store called SOL and loved it so much she accepted a job there. Though it was meant to be a short-term gig, she ended up staying for two years. She eventually relocated to Washington, D.C., then Buffalo, to work with a firm focusing on environmental permitting for natural gas pipelines.
Even though she worked in the science world by day, she still used her SOL skills to help women discover their true bra sizes at the occasional cocktail party and ladies’ night. So, she decided to take a leap of faith and make it her full-time job. In 2015, Doren opened Lace & Day alongside her sister. In addition to bras — sizes 30–44 and cup sizes from A–I — the lingerie boutique offers swimwear, panties, and sleepwear.
The concept for the store comes from the idea that “every woman is a little bit lace and a little bit everyday,” according to Doren.
“We can go out in the woods at our parents’ house and collect firewood, and then take a shower and put on a cocktail dress, feeling just as comfortable in that setting,” she says. “All women have both of those sides, just in different ratios.”
One of the main goals of the shop is to give women access to brands unavailable in the Buffalo area. Doren is in charge of buying for the shop, and while some of her decisions are financial, some are more heartfelt.
“If we see something, and it just takes our breath away, we know it’s also going to take our customers’ breaths away,” she says. “If we’re excited about it, our customers will get excited about it. We try to not get so analytical that we’re not appreciating the aesthetic, but we have to constantly check ourselves to flip-flop between the two [budget and aesthetics] and make sure that one’s not outweighing the other.”
Doren and her sister share the responsibilities, and they are constantly working together. It’s worked well for them because their relationship is built on trust — and their bond is so strong that they have a knack for having entire conversations without using words. Like many small business owners, Doren juggles many tasks, but enjoys her work.
“I work harder than I’ve ever worked, and I love it every day.”
— Rebecca Docter