Bella Ella Boutique’s success story didn’t start with twenty-thousand dollars and the normal flair and fireworks of a clothing store. It wasn’t started by an experienced businesswoman or woman entrepreneur. It started with a meager savings account and a goal; Alisha Merrill needed to provide for her young child. In 2010. Alisha was 21 years old and a single mom to a beautiful little girl, Aspen. She needed to support her family but wanted to be with her baby.
Alisha knew that if she wanted to be with her little girl, her only option was to start her own business. “The problem is, I didn’t know a thing about starting a company! I had no business education, no experience, and only my savings from my nannying job to my name. Despite all this, I was a girl with a mission, and I’ve never been one to quit. I took the money I’d saved up from my job, bought the cheapest storefront I could find in Lehi, Utah, painted some furniture from thrift shops and before I knew it, Bella Ella Boutique was born” said Alisha.
Except Bella Ella didn’t start as a women’s fashion boutique. “I didn’t have enough money to fill the store with product, so Bella Ella started as a consignment store. I put as much money as I could from my sales back into the store and ran really lean for a while.” Alisha watched buying patterns to learn what products sold well and what didn’t do so well. She bought out inventory from consigners who weren’t as motivated to keep selling and within six months, Alisha was able to fill the entire store with her own product and no longer needed consigners to keep her store full.
The first year of business was extremely hard. She managed the store by herself, handling all of the day-to-day operations, even though she didn’t have any prior experience. She set up a playpen in the back room and brought Aspen to work with her every day. Some days, Bella Ella made no money. “There were days when I just wanted to give up, but I knew that I wouldn’t let this stop me.” Alisha learned as she went and was commited to never quitting her dream. “My daughter was watching; I had to be the example and more importantly, I needed to put food on her table!”
Alisha managed the store, kept track of inventory with a pen and paper, worked fifty-two Saturdays a year, and brought her daughter to work every day. Bella Ella started picking up steam and Alisha thought that if she opened a second store, she could make twice the money. It wasn’t quite that simple, but she started putting in twice the work and was able to hire her first employees. She proceeded to open another store, and then another soon followed. Bella Ella went from a paper inventory system to seven brick-and-mortar locations with a growing online boutique with sales all across the country. “Aspen’s father, Steve, and I are now married, and in 2012 he quit a promising career in finance to come work at Bella Ella–I always tease him that he works for me now.”
Alisha has said numerous times, “I could never have dreamed that Bella Ella would be as successful as it’s been, but I still don’t feel like I’ve made it. I set a goal for myself back then, and I just keep raising the bar. I never stopped believing in myself, and that’s how I got where I am today.”
“I want all women to know that if I did it, you can too! You start by putting one foot in front of the other. Chase those goals until you are starved and then chase them even more.” Alisha’s goal is to empower women to be happy, beautiful, and confident through their clothes. Because of our ever faithful and continuously growing clientele, Bella Ella continues to grow this dream and feed its purpose of women empowerment and fellow woman entrepreneur support. Alisha Merrill founded Bella Ella Boutique on a dream to empower women and the desire to show her daughter that she can do anything she sets her heart and mind to.
When you buy Bella Ella Boutique, you’re not just buying beautiful clothes; you’re supporting the dream of a first-time woman entrepreneur and her family. “Your support means everything to me because I wouldn’t be here without you!”
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