I am a perfectionist by trade – it’s my job to sift through thousands of products per week to select the best, so details and nuances are definitely important to me. This year, I got engaged with my soon to be husband Santiago and looked forward to diving into the world of bridal fashion and decor, which, until then, wasn’t something I spent a lot of time thinking about.
I found my dress pretty quickly (although later on, I began to peruse Instagram and found several more that a loved just as much. Tip: avoid all wedding dresses on Instagram once you have yours selected!). But the shoes…the shoes took me forever to find! I didn’t want to go the typical route of the high-end well-known fashion brands, I wanted something unique. I then discovered Bella Belle (also through an Instagram deep-dive!) and fell in love with their styles immediately. I got in touch with the founders of the brand, Veronyca and Erina, who treated me with such kindness, and who helped me figure out that the best shoe to go with my dress is the Anita Heels in Ivory.
Falling instantly in love with my wedding shoes and the experience I had with the Bella Belle founders I sat down with them to find out more about the brand.
You are not just business partners but great friends – how did you meet each other?
Erina: Our history went way back! We met when we were attending high school in Singapore. We lived in the same boarding house and forged our friendship through many study and hang-out sessions. After high school, we went to separate colleges in different cities. Despite the distance, we were able to continue investing in our friendship and we have been best friends for 20 years!
How did you come up with the concept of Bella Belle? Did you feel like there was something missing in the market?
Veronyca: Bella Belle actually started out as a non-bridal brand. Over time, brides-to-be started noticing our shoes and asking to see a more extensive bridal collection from us. When we started shifting our collection to bridal shoes, we noticed a lot of traditional and cookie-cutter shoes in the market. We yearned to see more intricate, romantic, and feminine bridal shoes that can be considered works of art. With Bella Belle, we were able to bring our vision to life.
You both seem to have diverse professional backgrounds – Erina, for example, you were an architect for a while – how have you adapted to the world of creating and designing shoes? Any hard lessons learned?
Erina: There are actually quite a lot of overlaps between building and shoe designs; both have to do with the knowledge and understanding of forms, proportions, and functions. In every design decision, I ask myself: what form does it need to be? How do I achieve the right proportion? What functions is this design serving? In both worlds, there is a specific user in mind that I design for. The transition from my formal training in architecture to designing shoes was quite effortless and seamless. One lesson I learned through this whole experience was to never carve your life path in stone. I chose to use the knowledge I learned and the degree I earned in college to pursue my true passion in life.
Was there a particular celebratory moment while growing Bella Belle, something that felt like a time to open a bottle of champagne?
Veronyca: Yes, whenever a new collection launches, we pop the champagne! Every collection started many months in advance through trend analysis, iterations of sketches, and sample revisions. In addition, we also produce an editorial shoot inspired by the shoe collection itself as part of the preparation for the launch. By the time the new collection launches, we have poured so much love into each of them and are so excited to finally share it with everyone. That is when we pop open a great bottle of champagne and enjoy the fruits of our labor and passion!
Can you briefly take us through the life of one of the brand’s shoes – how and how long does it take to make it?
Erina: Each pair of shoes is a blank canvas for us to tell a story and to speak to the vision behind it. As such, every detail is scrutinized to ensure that it is on point. A style in our collection usually starts as an inspiration sketch after we identify the feeling we want to evoke from the design.
We then source the materials and start working on the prototype development and lasting. This process to bring the sketch to life usually involves many revisions to the details, the beadwork, the silhouette, and the color. After the samples are produced, we will run them through many fitting sessions to ensure they fit comfortably and look flattering on the feet. Comfort is key to us!
After more rounds of revision, the shoes will be ready to go into production and delivered to the fashionable ladies who purchased them. This process could take 3-5 months depending on the intricacy of the style.
Your shoes are stunning and really can be worn for so many occasions but you’ve become known as a great resource of beautiful bridal shoes (I’ll be wearing a pair for my wedding!) – what advice can you give to future brides on selecting the right shoe for their dress?
Veronyca: Thank you for the kind words and congratulations on your upcoming wedding! Our cardinal rule is always wear something that will make you feel special and comfortable. Your wedding day is a once-in-a-lifetime occasion, therefore your feet should also receive the love! We are big advocates for comfort as you will be on your feet for most of the day. Blisters are no fun! If flats are your daily footwear of choice, your wedding day is not the best time to experiment with high heels. Find a pair of flats that will still make you feel stunning. If you are a high-heel girl, find the high heels of your dream to complete your vision. To summarize, be your gorgeous self!
How did you try to differentiate your styles from other successful bridal shoe brands?
Veronyca: Bella Belle features a lot of the intricate details using embroidery techniques that are traditionally only used on couture dresses. The details on our shoes are multi-dimensional with beadwork, texture play, and embroideries. It is also important to us that our silhouettes are feminine and will be flattering on the feet so our brides feel stunning on their wedding day. One of the most used words in our review is “stunning” and “comfortable”.
We also like to engage with our brides directly to get their feedback. When some of our brides shared that our popular Anita lace heels are too tall, we created two additional silhouettes of the Anita: kitten heels and flats. At the end of the day, our ultimate goal is to deliver shoes that make our happy brides feel special in.
Not too tall for me – since I am 5’4 I asked you for a selection of your highest heels! Have you ever designed a shoe for Bella Belle that was actually something you were looking for?
Erina: Yes! A lot of the shoes I have designed were something I wished existed when I was getting married!
Can you share with us a non-Bella Belle pair of shoes that you cherish?
Veronyca: I love nude shoes for its leg-lengthening effects. Shoes are my passion so I have multiple silhouettes in the color to bring me from running errands to attending special occasions.
Erina: While I love and design beautiful, fancy and elaborate shoes, you can find them sitting in my closet, untouched most of the time. I cherish my comfortable distressed leather flat booties the most. They get me through my days as a mom, running errands, shoveling snow in this harsh New England weather, you name it.