Since age 16, I’ve had to make a living for myself; the story of Bella Ella Boutique begins when I had to start making a living for two. In 2009, my daughter Aspen was born. I was in an on-again, off-again relationship with Aspen’s father, and realized that I had to be the one to support my fledgling little family.
I’d always had an eye for retail, and realized that I could turn that skill into a career. I started by selling baby items at consignment stores, eventually opening my own consignment store. Sounds glamorous, right? It wasn’t.
The first year in business was excruciatingly hard. I unknowingly started in a time where most people were losing their homes and jobs, and people were shopping less and less. When I started my store, I had no idea that the economic climate was so bad for retail; all I knew was that my daughter needed to eat, and that I needed to make it work. Some days I didn’t make any money. As in zero dollars. Those nights, as Aspen and I slept in the basement of the store, all I could think about was survival. My beautiful child’s life literally depended on my ability to hustle and succeed; this wasn’t glamorous entrepreneurship, it was survival of the fittest!
However hard things got, I had my eyes set on the future. I’m NOT the type of person who just barely gets by; I remained convinced that my boutique would do more than just barely break even. I started to sell my own boutique inventory, eventually managing to open a second store, then a third, fourth, and fifth.
It wasn’t always pretty: our highly-sophisticated inventory tracking system consisted of a spiral-bound notebook where we scribbled in our orders and sales. However, despite our growing pains, things kept getting bigger. Today we have seven stores and a bustling website. 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 now works for me).
Luckily, I no longer go to bed worried about how I’ll come up with enough money to buy food for Aspen. However, even without hunger hanging overhead, I’m still motivated to succeed. I want to provide for my small family, and I want to help my employees provide for their families. I want to empower women everywhere to know that they can do what I did: there’s nothing special about me, I’m just a girl who was faced with a difficult situation and had to either sink or swim. Every woman just needs that small nudge, that tiny push forward. If you’re reading this, I need you to understand: if I did it, you can too!
When you buy Bella Ella, 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!