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Meet Blake Bell of Bliss & Belle Boutique in Lincoln Park

Today we’d like to introduce you to Blake Bell.

Blake, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
Even from a young age, I’ve always loved fashion. Whether it was dressing up my dolls or sketching outfit designs, I knew I wanted to have a career in fashion. I can even remember exactly what I was wearing during some of the most important moments of my life. Fashion is just part of how my brain works.

I studied Apparel Merchandising at Indiana University and confirmed my love for the fashion world. I enjoyed all of my classes and believe they set me up for my career in the fashion industry. Following college, I moved to Los Angeles to work for BCBGMAXAZRIA. I wanted to get experience before doing anything on my own. My first job was in the planning department as a merchandise allocator. Soon after, I moved into buying and that was where I spent the next 5 years. I was learning a lot working in the corporate fashion world and decided to put my dream of opening my own boutique on hold. After 5 years in LA, it was time to come home to Chicago. I wasn’t sure if I was ready to open my own store, so I went to work for Walgreens as a buyer in their beauty gifting category. I learned a lot during my year and a half there, but I also realized I was finally ready to start my own company. My closest family and friends gave me the push I needed to make the jump. There is never a perfect time, but with the support from them, I had the courage to make it happen.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I’m not sure there is ever a “smooth” road when starting your own business, but I did a lot of yoga during these months which helped me stay sane and mostly stress-free. The business part was the biggest struggle for me, as I felt very confident that I could manage the buying, planning, merchandising, etc. on my own, I didn’t know the first thing about starting a business. From creating an LLC to getting a business license, tax ID, and hiring employees, I definitely learned a lot along the way and am grateful for the help and support from those around me. While there were areas I felt confident in, you still don’t know, what you don’t know. While I could take my best guess at who I thought my customer would be, what they would want to buy, and at what price points, some of these things you just have to wait and see. The first couple of weeks were definitely the craziest and most stressful, but I was able to learn a lot about owning and running a business.

Please tell us about Bliss & Belle Boutique.
My business is a women’s clothing and accessory boutique. I am the owner, founder, buyer, planner, merchandiser, manager, marketer, you name it. I specialize in the buying and planning and that is where my passion is. Bliss & Belle is a Women’s boutique for a stylish and sophisticated woman looking for clothes that fit a variety of situations. Whether it is a casual day out with friends, a day at the office, or a special occasion we will strive to fit all her needs. With everything at $100 or less, we offer affordable fashion for everyone.

I am most proud of the curated collection. Within the past month and a half of being open, we have been able to outfit young teens all the way up to women in their 60’s/70’s. I believe fashion doesn’t have an age and I love that women of all ages can find something in my store that they feel great in. I love helping people find something they are excited about while being unique from department stores and providing looks you can’t find everywhere else.

What sets Bliss & Belle apart from other boutiques is the assortment of merchandise. I work hard to curate a collection of fun and unique items in a store that my customer will like at an affordable price point.
As a fashionista myself, I’ve always loved to buy new clothes and accessories but didn’t want to break the bank.

In addition, I wanted a store that not only had clothes, but also those cute gift items that you never know where to get. After developing an “everyday gifting” programs for Walgreen’s it influenced me to create an “everyday gifting” section in the store. I wanted to create a one-stop-shop for my customer. When she needs a gift for a birthday, housewarming, wedding, or just because, she can find that item here.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
I would have taken more advantage of the resources I had. Talking to other business owners have been the most helpful, and I wish I would have asked more questions along the way to save myself from some of the stress and mistakes I made. I would have also made better use of my time. There will never be enough time to get everything done, but prioritizing the most important things first.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Tao Zhang of Lenswork Studio https://www.lensworkstudio.com/

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