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Sexy’s softer side

When Mariela Rovito and Ali Mejia, former ad agency colleagues, first had the idea to go into the lingerie business together nearly two decades ago, there was one thing they knew for sure: “There was already enough sexy to go around,” Rovito said, “so we didn’t feel it was important, necessarily, to compete with that.” Their target customer, they insisted, would be a different kind of woman, the kind who understood that “if you feel good from the inside out, there’s nothing sexier than that.” Armed with this simple, subtle idea, they launched Eberjey, a lingerie brand that today is found in more than 500 stores around the world—and in a pair of namesake shops in Miami.

The newest of those two local stores opened on South Beach in April, a 750-square-foot space in the burgeoning shopping strip on Purdy Avenue. Designed to evoke the feel of a ballet studio, with industrial touches as a counterpoint, the store is more soft than overt, decorated with actual ballet barres from which merchandise hangs, reclaimed wood floors, and exposed hanging light bulbs instead of that ubiquitous South Florida fixture, the sparkling chandelier. Even all these years later, the opening is exciting for the owners. When they started, “we never thought we could fill up a store and now we are overflowing,” recalls Mejia, who acts as the company’s creative director.

Are they ever. With a name that means “joy from within” in a Nigerian dialect, the Eberjey collection first became known for making lingerie that fit and flattered real women’s bodies. Indeed, one of Mejia’s earliest creations, the Boy Short, a panty she jokingly designed for flat-bottomed women like her, became the brand’s first hit. Since then, they’ve expanded to include swimwear, loungewear, accessories and more while remaining true to their real-girl mission. They’ve added everything from a local jewelry line (Citrine by the Stones) to handmade straw bags and tapestries from Morocco. “That is a direction we would like to go in,” Mejia said. “To work with artisans to design products that we would sell here to help local communities, but also to give our customers really special items.” Rovita and Mejia invited INDULGE into their shop for a personal tour of their new space. Eberjey, 1905 Purdy Avenue, Miami Beach; 305-763-8839;