Clovis News

Word on the Street: Business finds perfect fit for women

Two women with years of experience in intimate apparel have joined up in a new service aimed at helping women find and buy a more comfortable bra.

Hai Ying Zhang of Clovis, who was a buyer and corporate merchandise manager for women's undergarments at Gottschalks before the company went bankrupt this year, and Velma Leyva of Galt, a former sales representative for a bra manufacturer, are partners in Fitting You Uplifting Underthings and its Web site,

"About 80% of women are wearing the wrong size bra," said Zhang, who established a training program that certified bra-fitters for all of Gottschalks' department stores in the western U.S. "There's a huge need for this type of service."

The wrong size or style of bra can be uncomfortable or unsightly, Zhang said, depending on what kind of clothing a woman is wearing. Different body types and different clothing styles call for different types of bras for both comfort and appearance.

It's not unusual for department stores and lingerie specialty shops to offer bra fitting in their stores. By creating a Web site, Zhang said she is establishing a new business model for area women in which the bra fitting comes to in-home parties -- taking a cue from in-home kitchenware or cosmetics parties -- or at fitting events hosted by women's gyms or, for mature customers, retirement communities.

"We looked at the need," Zhang said. "There are places out there at higher price points, but we tried looking at where our former Gottschalks customers would find moderate-priced, quality brands."

The company will hold an open house from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at the Hampton Inn & Suites, 327 E. Fir Ave., Fresno. Zhang and Leyva also will have a booth at Tuesday's Central California Women's Conference at the Fresno Convention Center.

A jump start?

A stalled affordable-income housing project in central Fresno received the largest allocation of federal and state tax credits in California in a recent round of funding.

Now, the real work starts.

Parc Grove Commons, a 464-unit complex at Fresno Street and Clinton Avenue that is to include live-work units and some of the greenest technology available, received $2.5 million in federal tax credits and $8.3 million in state tax credits from the state treasurer.

Now the Fresno Housing Authorities must sell the credits to investors -- which could be an uphill task in this recessionary environment.

About 200 World War II-era public-housing apartments were razed in 2007 to make way for the new housing, but the project was delayed when the national economic crisis shut off financing.

The Fresno Housing Authorities wound up returning almost $30 million in tax-credit and bond financing when investors got skittish and wouldn't buy them.

The same thing could happen this time, but Preston Prince, executive director of the Fresno Housing Authorities, said the size of the award could make it more attractive to buyers, which usually are banks and other institutions.

The agency also received tax-credit financing for a 16-unit apartment house in Kerman. Likewise, that must be sold to investors.

The Fresno Housing Authorities has 120 days to sell the tax credits. If a buyer can't be found, Parc Grove Commons and the Kerman project could be eligible for federal stimulus money that would essentially exchange the credits for cash.

Such exchange money already has helped jump start affordable-housing projects in Selma, Hanford, Dinuba and Lindsay.

More housing options

A business that finds family homes for developmentally disabled adults has opened in Fresno.

Family Options helps adults with elderly parents or families who are otherwise unable to care for them. The business finds them new homes with other families, similar to foster care, said program director Yolanda Speed.

"We find foster families who are willing to mentor a special-needs adult in their homes," she said. "They become a part of their family."

Family Options also helps the families get services the clients might need, such as medical care.

Speed founded the business, which opened in April. It has an office near Shaw Avenue and Golden State Boulevard.

The company is funded by and the families are reimbursed through state money that flows through the Central Valley Regional Center, she said.

It joins at least two other similar programs in Fresno.