Talulah Belle owner Amy Fonville tells SEEN about her Rochester boutique, local designers she loves and what’s new after a decade in business.
By Rachel Schostak
1. When and what inspired you to get into this business? Combined with my love of design and desire to connect with people, my initial inspiration came from my sister, Elizabeth Mast, who started the original Talulah in Dallas in 2004. In 2008, I opened Talulah Belle in downtown Rochester. My team worked to renovate a historic structure — once the town’s original printing press — into a warm, inviting escape of creativity and design. Today, we are located on downtown Rochester’s Main Street, and my love for this work has never been stronger.
2. What does a typical day look like for you? My time is a coordinated effort of managing my household, family and my store. Days start early, getting my youngest of three to school then heading into the store. Daily, I look over financials, make forecasts, coordinate product orders, collaborate with my digital marketing manager and work the sales floor. Currently, we are preparing for the holidays and making the finishing touches on a brand new Talulah Belle website talulahbelle.com, which is projected to be live by early December. We are very excited to offer e-commerce after 10 successful years as a brick and mortar.
3. Who inspires you in the fashion/design world? Every day, I’m inspired by so many designers I have met at trade shows and networking. Currently, I’m enamored with Joanne Ewald, a local jewelry designer and founder of Mend on the Move. Mend on the Move is a nonprofit social enterprise serving Metro Detroit that empowers and employs women survivors of abuse through jewelry making. I’m honored to carry her works of art.
4. What do you love most about your role managing and owning the store? I love my team. Everyone has something unique to bring to the table, and collectively we are able to make the store the welcoming environment that it is. Most of the Talulah team have been together for our 10 years, so it feels like a family. I also love the ability to make design choices, collaborate with other creative individuals and be part the Rochester business community. Making personal connections with my clients and helping them find that special gift for a loved one is something I hold in high regard.
5. What is the mission of your store and how do you want customers to feel when they enter your space? Our vision for our clients is encompassed by “Beautiful Giving, Modern Living.” Running Talulah Belle is like having a perpetual dinner party. When you enter our door, we want to provide a space to gather, unwind and slow down as well as a place to ignite your senses and calm your mind to find the perfect “something special” for yourself or the ones you love. Our passion is to provide a lasting impression, offering a curated selection of noteworthy designs in fashion-forward apparel, home accessories, apothecary and gifts for all occasions.
6. What are your current favorite items in the store? Oh my goodness, so much to choose from. Coffee table books are big at Talulah. We are so inspired by pop culture, the arts and design. They are a giftable item and make a wonderful layering piece for bookshelves or tables. As for fragrance, Lafco Candles provide sophisticated, layered fragrances containing hand-poured 100 percent soy wax. Their hand-blown glass vessels make these a wonderful staple for your home interior. Their cozy winter fragrance is Feu de Bois, which has found its way into my home for the holidays. Budha Girl all-weather bangles are a year-round necessity for my wardrobe. They are waterproof, weightless and soundless. When you purposefully guide each onto your hand, the idea is to set intention for your day.
7. Tell us what makes the in-store experience special? What’s great about visiting us in-store is that it is tailored to you. Clients mention daily that we have a great vibe consisting of the music, lighting and fragrances that we fill the space with. We always look forward to new friends walking in the door, ready to guide them through their experience or allow them to browse at their own pace.
8. Are there any new products or lines you will soon carry that really excite you? Yes — we are thrilled to be working with the fresh, contemporary Jonathan Adler, Parker & Hyde fashion accessories, Violet & Brooks jewelry and Laura Park home décor. As always, we are very excited for the coming seasons of apparel. Keep an eye out for fresh, colorful designs for spring!
9. Regarding your personal style, do you have a signature look or accessory? I like to keep it minimal and classic. Statement earrings are my go-to accessory.
10. A few items in your closet that you can’t live without? This is a tough one! I would say the Hermès silk scarf I purchased with my daughter at their flagship store in Paris, my Repetto shoes, all of my denim and last, but certainly not least, my grandmother’s gold wedding band.
11. Who inspires your style? Jackie O. and Alexander McQueen.
12. What are your favorite 2018-2019 style trends? I’m loving socks peeking out of an ankle boot, the comeback of crushed velvet and faux hyde handbags.
13. Favorite fashion, lifestyle, food or business blog? For lifestyle, my go-to resources are Dallas-based @soheatherblog and Detroit’s own @hautemesss and @jadoredetroit. When it comes to beauty, I especially love YouTube blogger @emilyjeanbeauty who just so happens to be my daughter. If I’m looking for business inspiration, you can find me scrolling through Foundr on their various platforms.
14. Favorite quote or words to live by? “Go confidently in the directions of your dreams” — Henry David Thoreau
15. When not working, where are a few local places you like to hang? If I’m looking to realign with my fitness or clear my mind, Center for Yoga and Steel Jacked City are fantastic spots. Time spent at home, with close friends and with my family are ultimately what leave me feeling most centered after a long day’s work. I am always looking for new restaurants and experiences within this wonderful Metro Detroit area.
Shop Talulah Belle products on the SEEN Marketplace:
SHOP: LAFCO New York Feu de Bois, $60, Talulah Belle
SHOP: Barefoot Dreams Cardigan, $145, Talulah Belle
SHOP: McCrea’s Black Lava Sea Salt Handcrafted Caramels, $12-$10, Talulah Belle
Stop by Talulah Belle at locations listed below. Follow @talulah_belle on Instagram for in-store events and new products!
307 Main St., Rochester
Talulah and Hess
2011 Abrams Road, Dallas, Texas