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EMERGING DESIGNER

Bella Collage

M
y sister and I created Bella Collage back in 2000 with the idea of starting a lifestyle company. We wanted to encompass everything from fashion/jewelry to home décor and antiques. Our motto bringing a little bit of everything beautiful into one’s life.
Danielle was born in Kansas City, Missouri while Gabrielle was born in Hays, Kansas. They both grew up in a suburb called Johnson County, Kansas. At the tender age of five, Danielle became very interested in fashion. What primarily ignited this interest was a doll that her neighbor made which was inspired by and modeled after her. The neighbor dressed this doll in a Lacoste shirt, Calvin Klein jeans and had it holding a lipstick. What a fashion introduction!

While growing up, the girls watched their aunt sew constantly. She had learned to sew “old school” method as a young girl in Italy, and she would sew anything from costumes to wedding dresses, and her beadwork was amazing. Both girls were very observant, but they did not start sewing until much later on. But when Danielle made her first item, it turned out to be something quite daring: she beaded both her mother’s and grandmother’s day outfits for her sister’s wedding. Everyone loved the beadwork on the outfits, and these turned out to be the first of many creative adventures for Danielle.

Danielle’s sister, and now partner, Gabrielle was 13 years old when she started to sew. One of her first pieces was a green jumpsuit that she designed and sewed for herself. While both of the girl’s style was ‘preppy’ as teens, they were attracted to different designers and stylistic approaches.

As a teen, Danielle was obsessed with Ralph Lauren: “Ralph Lauren is all I would wear”…she admits. “I did get teased a bit by my sister, who would say some of my clothes were boring and even a little boyish, but it didn’t bother me.” “My best find was a knee length Ralph Lauren leather, and we are talking the softest leather jacket you can find…I was in love!” Gabrielle expressed her preppy style in Lacoste and Calvin Klein.

Both sisters attended college, pursuing careers that were far from the fashion world. Gabrielle attended Rockhurst College and then graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in Health Information Management. Danielle graduated from Baker University with Bachelor of Science and Management degree. MyCloset.com wondered how on earth with these academic backgrounds did Danielle and Gabrielle end up in the creative world of jewelry design?? Danielle explains, "I always had the passion, but it wasn’t until recently that I actually sat down and designed the bracelet line. I have always loved fashion and accessories. When you find something you truly love doing and it brings beauty to others and makes them feel good, then you know you are doing something right."

Danielle recalls the night she was bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, "I wore one of our bracelets out to a martini bar and this girl wanted to buy it right then and there. I thought I might be on to something when every time my sister and I would wear one of our items we would always get asked where did we get that? When we explained we were the designers, they would place an order right then and there!"
We wanted them to be hip and fun with a variety of different designs ranging from Shabby Chic/Victorian to Asian, Girly, Modern and Religious. “Every girl needs a good piece of arm candy”
– Danielle & Gabrielle
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Still working hard to stay in shape. If anyone needs any pointers leave me a message!

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