Entrepreneur SEEN

Northern Edge, Southern Flair

August 27, 2015
Talulah Belle makes a fashionable statement.
By Jacqlyn Ucinski
Photography by Alene Bowyer Photography

In the heart of downtown Rochester, a chic black-and-white facade complements the historical buildings standing fashionably on Main Street. Red begonias cascade over modern rectangular containers with soulful music playing as you walk by. The name of this storefront is Talulah Belle, a home and lifestyle boutique owned and operated by Amy Fonville. It holds a selection of home goods, apparel, books and apothecary from more than 100 U.S. brands.

The first thing you’ll notice when you walk into Talulah Belle is its fragrance.

“Every day, clients ask us why it smells so good,” Fonville says. “We tell them it’s the combination of all our fragrance lines combined. We have our own signature scent in the air that can’t be duplicated.”

Next, you’ll notice other subtle welcoming vibes as music plays, a candle burns and a staff member welcomes you.

Approaching its eighth year in business, Talulah Belle started modestly in a neglected small retail space on Third Street around the corner from its current location.

An optimist at heart, Fonville signed a two-year lease on a cold, gray December day. Soon after an exterior upgrade of paint in a welcoming shade of yellow, long days of building her business from the ground up followed.

Fonville’s inspiration came from her sister, Elizabeth, who owns Talulah & Hess in Dallas. Each has a corporate background, a love of design and an entrepreneurial spirit that spearheaded both companies. To connect the dots, there’s a Southern feel to Talulah Belle in Michigan, showcasing the talents of many artists from the Dallas area, which creates a capsule of northern edge and Southern flair.

Fonville attributes Talulah’s success to her dedicated team as well as building relationships with clients and the surrounding community.

Giving Back

Talulah has paired up with Chavez for Charity (CFC), a company that creates a line of fashion bracelets that gives back to nationally known charities. To help create funds for local charities, CFC created the 11th Bracelet Project, which allows their retail partners to select a local charity to receive donations.

In April, Talulah Belle selected Pontiac-based Grace Centers of Hope, the largest and oldest faith-based outreach recovery and rehabilitation campus for the homeless and disadvantaged, as their local 11th Bracelet Project.

Collectively, Talulah Belle and Chavez for Charity will be donating a portion of the sales of the above pictured bracelets to Grace Centers of Hope through the end of the year.

During the upcoming holiday season, Talulah Belle is going to add hand-blown glass ornaments and will donate a percentage of those proceeds toward this deserving charity as well.

Small businesses play an intricate role in their communities that can’t be duplicated by online-only stores. Talulah Belle has a water bowl for customers’ furry friends, and staff members are happy to calm a baby for a mom when she needs a little retail therapy.

The power of a smile, a kind word, a small act of caring; these all have the potential to turn a life around. People, product and purpose are the motivating factors that make Talulah Belle a destination worth the trip. NS

307 S. Main St., Rochester
(248) 453-5054

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