The passion of two Otago women for leading New Zealand fashion, combined with a strong business acumen, is the secret behind the success of Wanaka fashion store, Bella.
Jen Milburn and Marg Caldwell decided in 2011 it was time for a change of direction from their roles in Dunedin. Jen and her husband owned a tourism business while Marg was working in the corporate world when they agreed to purchase the Dunmore Street store.
“It was dinner table conversation that resulted in us deciding to just ‘do it’ as we both knew Wanaka was our choice of future home,” says Jen.
The store, in Spencer House Mall,sells some of the country’s most sought after fashion labels such as Staple+Cloth, Taylor, Kate Sylvester, NYNE, OBI, Ricochet, Tuesday, Stitch Ministry and many more.
“Our ethos is to stock as many New Zealand made labels as possible including new and emerging designers,” says Jen. “ We’re committed to supporting New Zealand companies, which use ethical principles and have sustainable values.”
Providing a diverse range of high-quality fashion clothing, accessories and footwear Bella’s approach is one of style and confidence for women aged anywhere from their 20s to their 80s.
“We want customers to love what they are wearing and we offer a private styling service on request,” says Jen. “We purposely stock a wide range and are astute at buying for our customer base rather than just what’s trending.
She says people appreciate this attention to detail and the Bella’s loyal customer base has grown significantly over the last eight years.
“Smart casual wear is our focus, however our customers will always find something in Bella for those special occasions. We like to think we have something for everyone, from casual to corporate,”says Jen. “ Locals, visitors and holidaymakers are attracted to Bella and the feedback such as – ‘love the range of stock you have’ and ‘I look forward to coming back to Bella each time I’m in Wanaka’ – is reflected in our large number of repeat customers.”
Wardrobe Wizards of Bella is a unique inhouse styling service which helps women to look and feel fabulous at any age.
“ Whether someone needs encouragement to try something totally new or just wants help in a private and relaxed environment, then that’s what Wardrobe Wizards is all about,” says Bella co-owner Jen Milburn. “We provide the service out of normal business hours so it’s a great way to shop with a glass of wine and discover styles that work best for you without pressure or distractions.”