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Heather Swenson is the owner of The Crystal Corset Bra Boutique, which is located at 2551 45th St. S. in Fargo. Dave Wallis / The Forum

The right fit: Crystal Corset celebrates new location, crowdfunding campaign

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FARGO - Owner Heather Swenson said she has found the right fit for The Crystal Corset Bra Boutique in its new location in a south Fargo strip mall.

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The new location offers more square footage, increased parking and great foot traffic from other stores, she said.

The Crystal Corset sells bras, nursing bras, panties, shapewear, sleepwear and accessories. Certified fitters also provide bra fittings so customers can find the right style and fit for their body.

The strip mall is also home to resale stores like Once Upon a Child, Plato’s Closet and Clothes Mentor. Swenson said the fact that these stores predominantly attract women has been a boost to her business.

Swenson jokes that women can sell their used clothing to any of those stores and bring the cash over to Crystal Corset to buy something new.

Swenson moved in April after the store outgrew its location in the Black Building downtown. The increased square footage will allow her to carry additional inventory.

Until now, she only had room to carry one or two of each size. With the average price of a bra ranging from $68 to $78, she is seeking help to increase her selection through an online crowdfunding website.

Friend and former co-worker Jessica Heilman, of the Dakota Certified Development Corp., suggested she try the website Kiva, which distributes interest-free loans to small businesses through funds collected from outside supporters.

How it works

Business owners must first obtain the endorsement of a financial institution like the Dakota CDC to legitimize their business to Kiva.

Their loan request is then reviewed by Kiva representatives. Approved requests are uploaded to www.zip.kiva.org, where supporters can loan $5 or more through a PayPal account.

The initial fundraising goal is $5,000. If a business secures that amount, Kiva will distribute the money to the owner. If not, the money is returned to lenders.

The business owner then repays the loan and Kiva distributes the money back to lenders’ PayPal accounts. They can then choose to make another loan, donate to Kiva, or withdraw the money through their PayPal account.

Unlike other crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter, supporters are not donating money. Their funds will be returned once the loan is repaid.

According to the Kiva website, the nonprofit was founded in 2005 with a mission to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty.

To date, over 1.2 million people have made over $601 million in loans.

Every dollar loaned goes directly to the business owner. Kiva does not take a cut. The nonprofit is primarily funded through donations to the organization itself or through grants, corporate sponsors and foundations.

Swenson has 40 days left to reach her $5,000 goal. As of Friday, she had already secured over $1,000.

In addition to adding inventory, she plans to use the money for additional signage to improve the store’s visibility.

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