By co-founders Erina and Veronyca
Quick operational note regarding COVID-19:
- International shipping may take longer. Please choose UPS Worldwide if you need the shoes urgently.
- As of now, we are processing our orders as usual.
- Our Bloomingdale’s pop-ups are postponed until further notice.
- Some of our out-of-stock styles may take a while to restock. If you see your size is still available, we would suggest getting them before we run out. If we are out of your size, be sure to add your name to the waitlist, so we can do our best to get them in for you.
This is going to be the most personal blog we have ever written since we started Bella Belle. Before being shoe designers, we are human, citizens, daughters, sisters and mother first. Nothing could have prepared us for such a drastic change in the fundamentals of our very being: social creatures who thrive on human connection. This post is our Quarantine Diary, chronicling our journey through this pandemic. We had posted these on Instagram daily since the stay-home order was enacted in March 2020 due to COVID-19. Little did we know, something that was originally planned for 2 weeks now has been stretched to 2 months (and longer for some states). This has changed our definition of “normalcy”.
Everyone processes tragedy differently and, from early on, we decided to respond with our chin up and lead the conversation in a positive way. It was far from easy and is continually full of ups and downs. Building a business is hard, as any entrepreneur can attest to, but keeping it going in the COVID-19 pandemic required a lot of tenacity, creativity and self-assurance.
Stay Home, Flatten the Curve
The day the stay-home order was enacted in New York City on March 2020, we were actively planning our highly-anticipated pop-ups in New York and California. We recognized we would not be able to practice social distancing responsibly at pop-ups. With that in mind and for the safety of our staff and customers, we retracted the announcement once we realized the show cannot, in fact, go on.
This meme became our guiding principle:
As the number of COVID-19 cases climbed in New York City and elsewhere around the US, we sent as many of our team to work from home as possible. It was a no-brainer move for us, even though we are far from the worst affected areas. Life and health supersede everything else. Doing our part to stop the spread of the virus is the responsible thing to do.
At that time, we did not know that unemployment would later skyrocket to exceed that of the Great Depression. All we knew, almost naively, was that we wanted to give a sense of stability to our team during this crazy time. Luckily, they are adaptable to changing duties as we focus less on operations and more on other long-term initiatives. During days that are especially hard, they have inspired us to keep going and keep creating.
Erina: “Working from home with a toddler made me realize how much I appreciate teachers, and how I took them for granted. Their hard work enables us parents to balance work and childcare. Nowadays, balancing a laptop with a boy squirming around me is my daily workout.”
Message to Our Community
We immediately thought of our brides. We do not take lightly the responsibility of accompanying a bride’s most important walk in her life. The devastation and frustration that come with postponing your wedding must be disappointing and heart-wrenching.
We dedicated this post to our brides and grooms:
Equally important for all the shoe lovers:
Last but most definitely not least, we dedicated this to the beautiful and close-knitted wedding industry professionals. With weddings postponed, our livelihoods and creativity muscles have been upended.
This message sparked numerous conversations and direct messages, those of courage and support in this crazy time, as everyone tried to adapt to the situation.
As part of the industry movement, we are a proud supporter of the “Stay In, Speak Out” movement, where donations we make will make a difference for the individuals impacted by COVID-19.
Veronyca: “No one could have predicted the full scale of the impact of COVID-19 back then. Just in January, we were happily on a road trip for an editorial shoot. We are now taking it day by day.”
Humor Made Everything a Little Bit Easier
As a brand rooted in storytelling, we took on the challenge in shaping our platform into something positive and uplifting. We know the ups and downs will always be there, but when people need (a beautiful) escape from the daily negative newsfeed, we are here with content that will bring a little chuckle or ray of sunshine. We also use our platform to share content created by others, with proper credit, to increase exposure for them.
Erina: “While the situation is dire and is far from a joke, we also know we have very little control over it. Among our team members, we post and share what make us laugh to reduce the intensity of our anxiety.”
While we get to stay home, we realize many of the essential workers are out there risking their lives so that we can stay home safely. We are also cognizant that our brides and shoe lovers are essential workers, parents working from home, those isolated at home, and those who could be unemployed at any moment. To highlight everyone's plight, we dedicate many of our posts to them.
To every one of you who vote on our polls, reply to our questions and DM us, you are a ray of sunshine to our day. Thank you, thank you, and thank you!
Veronyca: “We encourage our customers who purchased our shoes during our Pay-it-Forward sale to pay it forward by donating the money they saved to a charity cause that is dear to their hearts."
Highlight Industry Professionals
We love being in this supporting and beautiful industry. We stand in solidarity and find strength in the community that have given us so much inspiration and courage. The best part of being in the industry is the people that we get to work and collaborate with on a daily basis.
We regularly feature wedding vendors in our Vendor Highlight series to highlight their incredible work on our platform.
We also reposted about the funding resources that #bossbabes may need to help pay mounting bills, now that there is less revenue to offset the expenses. Knowledge is power, and women who inspire women build strong communities.
Furthermore, we share TV shows and movies that inspire us, highlighting the creative professionals behind them.
By now, masks are compulsory and we have donated 1,000 medical masks to our local hospitals, nursing homes, and public transit workers.
We highlighted some vendors who are making, donating and selling masks:
We also shared these self-care topics:
Erina: “We hosted an open-ended Q&A session, to encourage our followers and community to ask questions they have always wanted to know. We received questions from we started with the business, our inspiration in building a shoe brand, to why Veronyca's name is spelled with a 'y'. Conversations like this are instrumental in keeping us all connected mentally and emotionally, despite the physical isolation."
As entrepreneurs, we are used to being stretched daily to overcome challenges that come our way. However, this unprecedented situation has stretched us to our core. Amidst the positivity we choose to spread on our platform, we also need to practice self-care and be there for our loved ones.
This means pretty drinks like this show up more often in our households.
Aside from highlighting industry professionals’ work, we also recapped many of the beautiful projects we have produced over the years, such as our designer collaboration program and editorial lookbooks. This keeps us focused on better days ahead.
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Have you heard the song “Perfect” by @teddysphotos featuring @andreabocelliofficial , the renowned singer from Italy? Each musician is magnificently talented on his own. The song Perfect is also a captivating ballad on its own before the duet. But when Andrea sang the song along with Ed Sheran, the song morphed into this next-level musical brilliance. It combines Andrea’s powerful tenor with Ed’s comforting, soulful voice, creating a breathtaking harmony. Andrea also translated some of the English lyrics into Italian. The result is this rich and powerful combo for the fans of the artists to treasure. ⠀ ⠀ That is the heart of every collaboration - each artist adds her signature touches to create a multi-faceted collection. The end result is a fusion of both artists’ unique aesthetics. Pushing the design boundary, a collaboration is something that none of the collaborators can achieve on her own. ⠀ ⠀ This week, we will spotlight the artists we have had the pleasure of collaborating with. Each artist infuses her signature touches on Bella Belle shoes, creating a multi-faceted designer collection. It is Bella Belle’s honor to share our shoe-design journey with these remarkable artists. ⠀ ⠀ Are you as excited as we are?⠀ ⠀ Shoe Collection @livhartofficial X @bellabelleshoes⠀ Photography @winsomeandwright⠀ Gown @berta⠀ Bridal @annabebridal⠀ HMUA @lizweg⠀ Earrings @livhartofficial⠀ Location @union27⠀ Model @larsongurl⠀ ⠀ Photography: @jeremychouphotography⠀ Shoes: @clairepettibone x @bellabelleshoes⠀ Floral styling: @chloeandmint⠀ ⠀ Photography @kurtboomerphoto⠀ Design and styling @joyproctor⠀ Shoes: @joyproctor x @bellabelleshoes⠀ Styling Board @heirloombindery⠀ Floral @bowsandarrowsflowers⠀ Ring box @the_mrs_box⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #bellabelleshoes #clairexbella #livhartforbellabelle #joyproctorforbellabelle #weddingshoes #weddingheels #floralshoes #laceshoes #bridalshoes #bridalheels #weddingpumps #bridalpumps #lacepumps #comfortableshoes #comfortableheels #laceheels #lacewedding #高跟婚鞋 #ウェディングシューズ #Свадебнаяобувь #Brautschuhe #ウエディングアクセサリー #ブライダルアクセサリー #tobewed #bridetobe #bridalstyle #bridalfashion #shopsmall #afterpay ⠀
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Creative Process - As a brand rooted in story-telling, we come up with a theme for every shoe collection. ⠀ ⠀ Over the years, we have showcased our collection themes from the feeling of “Euphoria” and the “Edelweiss” flowers, to the latest “Poetry of Love”. How did we come up with each? In what ways do we infuse the themes into our collection? ⠀ ⠀ During this #socialdistancing period, we want to share more of the behind-the-scenes process. Stay tuned for this week’s 'Creative Process' series. ⠀ ⠀ Photography: @lauragordon⠀ Creative & Styling: @joyproctor⠀ Shoes: @bellabelleshoes⠀ Styling Board: @locustcollection @stylingmat ⠀ Floral: @naomidemanana⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ .⠀ #bellabelleshoes #weddingshoes #weddingheels #bridalshoes #bridalheels #weddingpumps #laceshoes #sparklyheels #handmadeshoes #crystalshoes #pearlshoes #ivoryweddingshoes #weddinginspo #weddinginspiration #nudeheels #designershoes #blackheels #comfortableshoes #crystalheels #tobewed #bridetobe #behindthescenes #ido #tyingtheknot #bohowedding #summerwedding #fallwedding⠀
We also shared the 5 stages of grief from a Harvard Business Review article related to the pandemic, encouraging us to be OK with feeling what we feel. Staying inspired is almost impossible some days, and so we are not pushing it when a day is especially tough for us. What always help us bounce back is seeing the resilience of our team and the support we get from the community.
Veronyca: “Early in this pandemic, Erina and I turned to each other and reminded ourselves that this will be a very rocky few weeks/months ahead and that each of us needs to be the pillar of strength for the other. In our decades of friendship, we find solace leaning into each other for resilience and courage now more than ever.”
After health and human life, the biggest challenge is what to do with the, hopefully temporary, declining demand for pretty shoes. Every person and brand out there is probably pondering about their purpose and core values at some point, in the wake of the pandemic. Should we continue doing what we do best, which is designing pretty shoes, or should we stop for a while? Do we continue our inventory forecast, or put a brake on our investment plans? Will we have enough cash to survive and keep our team employed? The worries are real and on-going.
However, we find a slice of contentment in watching dog videos to brighten our mood.
Finally, to every one of you who have commented, DMed, emailed, and voted on our polls, you have no idea how much each of you means to us and keeps us going. You laugh and cry with us (virtually) by responding to our posts. Thank you, from the bottom of our hearts.
As we all continue practicing responsible social distancing for the coming months, let’s embrace this new normal and do our part in keeping ourselves and everyone around us safe. We would like to leave you with this message that helped us through difficult times.
For the full Quarantine Life Diary, please visit our Instagram page.
Veronyca & Erina