Written by Shauna Stewart, Founder
I often get asked how the idea of LINGER Boutique came to be. It’s a long story, and I have yet to figure out a quick and quippy way of sharing it in a 90-second-or-less-elevator-pitch format. But I’m okay with that. Because, around here, we like it slow.
So, if you have the time, and you’re interested in knowing… here's the story.
I Got Sick
In May of 2020, my body started to experience weird symptoms. What started with a patch of hives and a thumb cramp turned into a list of crippling symptoms so long, I needed an old-timey scroll to document the whole list. A roll of toilet paper would have done the trick, but those were hard to come by at the time.
I Saw All the Medical Professionals
My scroll-length list of symptoms stumped and confused everyone. I went to two different naturopaths, a nutritionist, dermatologist, rheumatologist, hematologist, hepatologist, chiropractor, acupuncturist, and on and on. I regularly gave vials of blood and good chunks of my body to various tests. Still nothing. We knew something was wrong, but we couldn’t figure out what it was.
The crippling pain of this mysterious illness caused me to quit my dream job and rely on my husband to walk me to the restroom. I couldn’t lift my kids… I could barely lift my arm.
I Googled All the Things
As we all know is best practice, when feeling lost and confused, one turns to the internet for answers. I’d type in my newest symptoms to Google then scroll and scroll. Depending on the day, I would diagnose myself with anywhere between 14 and 117 different conditions, and they were all awful. But then… I began to see this common denominator, a common link between both the cause and the solution to all these different problems: stress.
I learned about the impact of stress on our immune and nervous systems and began to understand how critical those systems are to our overall health and well-being. I learned that our body holds onto stress, often without us knowing it. I learned that we can be stressed, without even feeling it. I learned that women are most impacted by stress, and that our fast paced lifestyle contributes to it.
I Learned to Prioritize Pleasure
As an Enneagram 3 (Achiever), I’ve spent my whole life on-the-go, chasing big goals and ambitiously pursuing my dreams. In my mind, “feeling good” was unproductive and, therefore, unnecessary…until I was in pain. All the time. For a year.
With an uncertain future, and a body that didn’t work, I suddenly recognized that I had normalized my pain at the expense of my pleasure. With a jam-packed calendar and internalized nonsense cultural messages, I had thought I was winning, but I almost lost everything.
So I started to change my mind. First, I started letting go of some beliefs that I had once thought of as empowering (such as: women who do it all are amazing, and if I'm strong enough, I can achieve/fix/have anything), then I began to find new ways to experience joy and pleasure. I did the predictable things: spent more time with my husband and children, wrote in a gratitude journal, re-committed to my yoga mat, crafted a beautiful morning routine, and spent time admiring nature.
We also rearranged our bedroom to wake up with a better view. I swapped junky joggers for buttery-soft pajamas. And I started to pay attention to little details, from the twinkle in my son’s eyes, and the smile on my daughter’s face, to candles and room sprays, these details served as simple reminders to enjoy the beauty and pleasure of life. I also reconnected with my husband who had been my caretaker, reclaiming the more intimate parts of our relationship.
He Took A Wrong Turn
Fast forward several months, I’m symptom free and we’re heading to Walla Walla for my husband’s 40th birthday. His birthday wish was for time with me - a wish he probably regretted about 15 minutes into our drive out of Olympia when he turned North on Interstate 5 because GPS told him it would be 15 minutes faster. GPS lied; it was Friday afternoon.
I had planned a well-researched wine tasting trip and had reservations lined up of which I immediately knew we would miss as we slowed (read: stopped) in traffic. So, being the new and improved version of myself (joyful and present), I got grumpy (I mentally-divided assets in a fantasy divorce where the judge sides with me because WHO GOES NORTH ON INTERSTATE 5 ON A FRIDAY WHEN THERE IS ANOTHER OPTION???).
I was hot and sweaty and stuck on the freeway. As I tried to avoid hitting the birthday boy with eye darts, I looked around at the cars and buildings. As I scanned South Tacoma’s cement-scape, I noticed three strip mall sex shops and began to think about the experience of shopping there. For me, it’s not super comfortable, it just doesn’t feel good. As we crept along the freeway, I started to wonder why, in order to access products that might provide a little more pleasure, do we have to endure this uncomfortable shopping experience? Shouldn’t there be another option?
What if We…?
I believe all my best life choices began with the question: What if we…? What if we stopped being “just friends” and got married? What if we had a baby? What if we had another?
So, I turned to my husband and asked: what if we created a space where women could enjoy shopping for beautiful lingerie and adult toys? No crunchy lace. No neon light sabers. What if we made that space comfortable and beautiful? What if, in a world that caters to men’s pleasure, we helped to normalize pleasure for women? What if we invited the world to slow down and take time for what matters most?
And so I teamed up with my dear friend Heidi, and we did.