Molly Hopkins and Cynthia Richards are like a Southern-flavored “AbFab” routine, sassing each other while fitting women for bras at their lingerie shop LiviRae in Kennesaw.
They truly love each other as friends and Lifetime hopes that bond will draw viewers in with a show that evokes a bit of both “Say Yes to the Dress” and “Pawn Stars.” It debuts in sneak-preview form tonight at 10:30 p.m., then starts in its regular time slot at 10 p.m. on Thursday, January 10 after “Project Runway: All Stars.” The network will air 14 episodes for the first season.
Each episode focuses on the women solving customer’s image issues. In one sample episode I viewed, Cynthia creates customized bras for a North Carolina woman with gargantuan breasts, even bigger than they’ve ever seen before. In another, they visit a Decatur church and fit bras for a gospel choir that help reduce the amount of “bouncing” on the dais as they sing.
“They’re so willing to let you see their human side and their vulnerable side,” said show runner Kathleen Blake. “They let the walls down. They don’t have a lot of filters. They’ll tell you what they’re thinking.”
Cheerful Molly has a knack for identifying women’s bra sizes without a tape measure and will often comment to strangers if they are wearing ill-fitting bras.
“I’ve probably seen more boobs than Hugh Hefner,” she cracked on the show.
But remember: this show is on Lifetime, not Spike. So while the cameras spend a lot of time with women wearing lingerie and Molly uses the word “boobs” every five seconds, the show is not lascivious or racy.
“We change people’s lives every single day,” Molly said. “You can change the way someone feels about themselves. Comedy works. They may have had too much holiday turkey. Letting them know they’re not alone helps.”
Molly’s the business-minded busty brunette from Canton. Cynthia is the creative, hyperactive blond from Marietta. Both possess syrupy Georgia accents.
“I’m left brain, she’s left brain,” Molly said. “We’re both great salespeople. We may go in different directions but we get to the same spot. It’s symmetry.”
Cynthia, who Molly calls a “mad inventor,” loves to create new types of lingerie in her sewing room, which is packed with clothing, fabric and experiments. “I’m a bit of a hoarder,” Cynthia admits. “I can’t throw anything away if I feel I can use it. I make corsets, chaps, you name it.”
She marvels that the cameras are all over the place “to watch me and Molly talk about stupid stuff. We come up with rap songs. We think we’re funny. We don’t think about it. That’s who we are. We’re crazy!”
The ladies met working at a high-end lingerie shop at Phipps Plaza called Intimacy. “I was bending over to pick up a panty. My Spanx were right in her face. It was love at first sight,” joked Cynthia, in explaining how they became friends. They catered to the Buckhead Betty types with $150 bras but felt folks with lesser budgets and bigger bra sizes needed help, too. They also liked to work with mastectomy patients. To fill that void, they decided to open their own store.
LiviRae Lingerie debuted six years ago with start-up cash and credit cards since banks weren’t keen about giving loans for a store like that. “Nobody understood the concept,” Molly said. And they struggled early on to even get bra inventory because their former employer made sure her suppliers blackballed them. (That owner eventually sold to another buyer.)
Even today, with the store doing much better, “we still have to go through crazy stuff to get a loan,” Cynthia said.
Their store’s primary business is bras and accessories that go with it. They have 85 bra sizes with an average bra price is $68. They also mend and repair bras as a complimentary service.
They hope to eventually expand by franchising and creating mobile fit units.
Given how sensitive women are about their bodies, not all of them want to be on TV. “Our goal is not to expose and exploit,” Molly said. “If they don’t want to be on the show, that’s fine.”
Here are photographs I took last month from the store while the production company was shooting: