The business, billed as a unique boutique, has managed to settle in at its home in The Shops of Dunwoody plaza off Chamblee Dunwoody Road quite nicely since launching late last year, said co-owner Patti Simpson.
“We wanted to provide a unique accessories store that is affordable, but trendy and fun,” Simpson said. “The [retail] market in Dunwoody was sort of missing that, so that’s why we’re here.”
Simpson, a full-time nurse practitioner, teamed up with architect friend Rebecca Williamson to spread their entrepreneurial wings after a year of conversations and due diligence.
Bellissimo’s 1,200-square-feet of space houses an array of hats, scarves, jewelry, handbags, purses, wallets, hair accessories and watches. The store typically only carries one of each item — most of them hailing from the owners’ regular New York City buying trips, others spotted and retrieved from local sources.
“[Product] turnover is great,” Simpson said. “Every time you come into the store, the merchandise is going to be different.”
The inherent challenges of launching a new business in less than stellar economic times are not lost on Bellissimo’s braintrust. Neither are the prospects of success.
More than half of the companies on the Fortune 500 list in 2009 began during a recession or a bear market, according to a study by the nonprofit Kauffman Foundation.
“The down market is actually a good time for this type of business,” Simpson said. “People are not spending money on fine jewelry and that sort of thing like they usually do.”
If the positive feedback being directed Bellissimo’s way is any indication, its future is bright indeed.
“So far, [residents] have really embraced us,” said Simpson. “Seventy percent of our referrals are from people who’ve been in the store — friends and others talking about what they’ve seen, which is the best advertising you can get.”