Alumna founds boutique focused on LGBT community

In August 2014 Jeanna Kadlec ’10 was sitting on her porch with a friend when she shared an idea—starting a lingerie boutique to serve the LGBT community.

Jeanna Kadlec ’10

Kadlec said it had dawned on her that many in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community, especially people who are transgender, didn’t feel comfortable in a traditional lingerie boutique. Not long before Kadlec shared her idea, she heard the story of a transwoman in Texas who was denied service at a lingerie store.

“People who are transgender or non-binary feel like their needs aren’t being taken into consideration,” she said.

Non-binary refers to people who identify as neither exclusively masculine nor feminine.

After she shared that idea, it wouldn’t leave her mind. Within a week, she said, she had a domain name registered and had opened a twitter account for the project. And so, Bluestocking Boutique was born.

Kadlec, who triple majored in English, politics, and women’s studies at Cornell College, has always been passionate about LGBT issues. She identifies as queer, and, for her, starting the business was a way to put the critical theory she learned at Cornell and in graduate school at Brandeis University into practice.

“My work at Cornell was absolutely integral in laying the foundation for my worldview,” Kadlec said. “I don’t think you can find a more activist-driven intersection than my majors. Starting Bluestocking Boutique was a way to use the theories and ideas I’d developed and take practical action.”

It took eight to nine months to go from the first idea to the launch of the business. Now, nine months after launch, the boutique is starting to come into its own. It’s been featured on ABC News, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and other media outlets. For now it’s an online-only business, she said, but she is hoping to start holding pop-up events—short term sales in temporary locations—in New England and New York City.

Kadlec is focused for now on growing her business but also using her business to help improve representation. In October 2015 Bluestocking had its first photoshoot.

“The shoot is entirely LGBTQIA+,” Kadlec wrote on the company’s blog. LGBTQIA+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer/Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, and other categories. “All models identify as LGBTQIA+. The photographer is a queer woman. The makeup artist is a gay man.”

She wrote that she’s hoping for a time when it’s not just businesses focused on the LGBT community that take representation of this population seriously.

“I believe that more people should represent us, reach out to us, but until the rest of the world catches up, I’m happy to be a drop in the bucket, helping raise awareness and validate the reality of our everyday, lived lives,” she wrote. “At the end of the day, I want to help people feel seen. Heard. Cared for. Thought of. Valued.”