Yesterday, I had the opportunity to sit down with Merry McGuinness Ireland to chat about her new store The Ruff Life, among the many new small businesses popping up in Oklahoma City’s Plaza District located off of NW 16th and Blackwelder. This sexy shop showed up on March 29, 2013 with an extravagant Grand Opening. “I invited about 1500 people, I wen’t a little over the top,” said Merry.
Merry has been performing burlesque in the Oklahoma City for 7 years, and is very well known among performance artists and musicians alike. She works with comedians and musicians at her shows; she is also participating in national burlesque competitions.
With so many new business opportunities in Oklahoma City right now, buildings for lease in Midtown, Western, The Paseo Arts District. I am a Plaza lover myself, but I had to know why Merry chose that specific location.
“That was pretty easy. Art is so such a part of my life, as far of the the way I dress, I’m a little eccentric. I was born in in Eugene Oregon, I grew up with a bunch of really eccentric, over the top crazy people. This area reminds me of being in Oregon.”
“It’s so cool to be located down here it’s a collective of people who all work together and want to help each other,” said Merry. All of the businesses in the plaza are very close knit; a tiny community jammed packed with many of the most talented people in Oklahoma.
I asked Merry what the general response was when she decided to open this shop. “People thought we were going to put in a burlesque or fetish shop,” said Merry. “Like I was starting the raunchiest place in Oklahoma City” She giggles.
Merry is a bit of a lingerie snob, and she is very particular about the products that she carries. “I believe there is something out there better than Victoria’s Secret. They spend all of their money on million dollar models instead of improving their product. I wanted to find things in that price range that was beautiful, couture, and sexy.”
Merry imports from France, England and Canada, and carries bras in ranging from 32A to 40H. She also has specialty items that make me giggle, like aphrodisiac enhancing lip gloss, “Pussy” tights which are adorned with kittens, and handmade jewelry from local artists.
“This started when I was pregnant, I was in an F cup. All I could find were the ‘old lady’ bras, like the ones that come in the plastic bag and make you feel not-so-sexy; and I thought, ‘There has to be a solution’.” Merry’s high quality imports at an affordable rate is just one piece of the pie…
The Vintage Side
The Ruff Life also carries a fantastic selection, many gorgeous, mod dresses and a few handbags here and there. Every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning, Merry wakes up at 6 am and visit as many estate sales as possible. “I get to hang out with the older ladies waiting in line at estate sales, and it gets pretty serious and cut throat, but I have found awesome things. I have purchased and since sold a Bob Mackie gown that I found here in this area.”
The vintage prices are extremely reasonable, I have already purchased 3 beautiful dresses, ranging from $20-$40, with the exception of the occasional diamond in the rough. For example, Merry has a silk Escada shirt on display, which is actually worth more than what she has it priced at.
“I never intended the vintage to be as much as a part of the shop as it is, but it flies off the shelf. I love getting to go into other people’s homes, I’m kind of a creep,” she laughs. I love shopping for it and it’s like my ‘me’ time”
“I think there is something very powerful about wearing lingerie. Men think that women wear lingerie for men, but I don’t think that’s true” says Merry. “When I was in law school, I had to stand up for myself as a woman. Having sexy lingerie under a women’s suit can be very empowering.”
“I think we are at a feminist stage where we don’t need to define ourselves by manning up for a job, we can actually say ‘this is who I am as a woman’, and accept our sexuality. Be pro-sexual and take pride in what you makes you feel sexy.”
Merry also owns a pop up shop; a 1973 Winnebago that she uses for events, with the first event being Biting the Apple. Winnie’s name is Busty Tits-a-Lot. Her next scheduled appearance will be at The Paseo Arts Festival, located outside of Twisted Root Gallery at 3012 N Walker. What are you waiting on? Get your shop on.
The Ruff Life
1704 NW 16th
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma