221 Chalan Santo Papa
By Morgan Legel
Lou C. Suarez, opened her “curvy” clothing store a year ago in March, naming it after her daughter, Diseha.
While the word “diseha” means hope, wish and desire, Suarez takes to heart, and always tries to look at the brighter side of life and stays hopeful that good things are to come.
Diseha is located in Hagåtña, under the Venue and across from Faith Bookstore. Suarez loves her space, and the fact that she’s helping the “Revitalize Hagåtña” cause.
Before Diseha, Suarez worked for United Airlines as a customer service agent, which is where she met her husband, and she also owned a different business in Tamuning as well.
A self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur,” Suarez always knew she wanted to have a business, especially after her time with United. She says she loves working with customers, and making people happy, so it wouldn’t even matter what kind of business was her destiny, as long as she could provide customer service.
Diseha mainly specializes in plus-size, or as Suarez likes to call it, “curvy,” clothing, but it also sells petite and straight sizes, but with much smaller inventory. Diseha also sells local artists products, like jewelry, and other made in Guam items.
How would you describe Diseha to a potential customer who has never walked through your doors?
Suarez: We specialize in curvy apparel, with a sprinkle of petite.
How did your journey to the fashion industry on Guam begin and when did you first realize it was an industry that you wanted to be in?
Suarez: Honestly, someone asked me if this was my passion. I said no, my passion is customer service, not necessarily the retail. But, I have been a curvy person my entire life and I can remember going to a store and thinking, ‘I should open a store just for plus-size women.’ I’ve always been curvy, so I have always been thinking of having a curvy shop.
When you first opened shop, how did you expect business to be and how does business now relate to your expectations?
Suarez: I expected it to be better than at my previous shop, and I am not disappointed. I didn’t expect an influx of customers every day, but I did expect more foot traffic, due to my location. I think now, it has met and exceeded my expectations because, personally, I am really happy to just be here, and the flow of customers and how happy people are.
The plus-size clothing market on Guam seems to be a niche market. Why did you see a need for a clothing store mainly dedicated to plus-size women?
Suarez: Guam has a lot of curvy women, and only a few places on island to try on things and have options. Now, it’s coming out all over the place. People like to come in and try on and have that personal interaction. Any one can go online and buy something, but I will tell you if you put something on and it doesn’t look good. Of course, we all like to make a sale, but I would prefer the customer walking out happy and thinking, ‘I had a good time at Diseha’ versus thinking, ‘She really sold me this.’
You currently have an online presence with Facebook. Do you plan on expanding your internet offerings to a retail website where customers can purchase online?
Suarez: We do have both Facebook and Instagram, where I have done some [live shows of product.] People love that. Other than selling through those things, I don’t think we would be doing a website anytime soon — when we bring in new products, we don’t bring in huge quantities. Sometimes when we have new things, people will message me and ask about it and I have to tell them, ‘Sorry, all we have is this size,’ whatever it is. And they’re like ‘You just posted it!’ But because we have small amounts of things, they sell out faster.
In relation to other places in the world, do you think it is hard to keep a business running on Guam? How do you think it would differ in other places?
Suarez: I think it is hard because Guam doesn’t have a huge population, and on top of that there’s the online stores. I think if I was on the mainland, I don’t think my store would do well though. I know of big-name plus-size women’s clothing stores that are closing. I don’t think I would have done better other places; it really depends on how you market and get your stuff out there.
Do you have any future plans for Diseha?
Suarez: We’re not looking at moving, I love where we’re at. And as for expansion, no because there is nowhere to expand to. Plus, I have a going-to-be four year old, so no expansion as of right now.
We do have our one year anniversary, so for the month of March we will be doing different promos and lining up private events.
It’s a lot of work and we’re really excited. We wouldn’t have made it this far if it wasn’t for our customers.
Anything else that you would like the Guam Business Readers to know about Diseha?
Suarez: I like to think of us as a family-friendly environment. Bring your kids, don’t be mamalo. If you’re okay with me giving them candy, then cool.
When you come in, I tell customers to just pretend like it’s their closet. Try things on, and you’ll get an honest answer because everything doesn’t look good on everyone. I have made really good friends, and that’s what I wanted.
I love that even though there are these other boutiques popping up, and we can share.
Hours: Monday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Closed on Sundays.
Facebook and Instagram: @diseha.gu