“Roses are Red, Violets are Blue”
“He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not”
Whether you agree with these sentiments or not, you can’t help to hear them as a little girl. For many young women prom is a time when they feel like these young childhood dreams will come true. For others, prom is a celebration that high school is complete and graduation is around the corner. No matter what the formal event and no matter what the celebration, every young woman deserves this opportunity. At Bella Boutique we offer formal gowns and personal pampering services to teens in financial need. The ability to provide formal dresses, accessories and a personal stylist in the Denver Metro area came about through a life’s journey that I would like to share with each of you.
As a young girl, I always felt like I had what I needed and what I wanted despite the fact that money was tight. Whether it was surfing the sale racks or hemming my clothes, my mother always made sure I wouldn’t have to miss out on my high school events like prom, homecoming and even pageants throughout the Seattle area, where I lived.
In high school, my friends frequented the local dress shop to choose an expensive gown for formal events. Doing so was not an option for me, and to reduce costs, a family friend agreed to sew my formal dresses despite the fact that she was a retiring seamstress. The process of combing through patterns, choosing fabrics and mixing and matching various designs made me feel like a dress designer, and never once like I was missing out on anything.
Fast forward many years and I met a women by the name of Nipal who not only connected with me but changed my life. Like me, Nipal’s family budget did not afford for luxuries such as a prom dress. While I was fortunate to be able to design my own gown, Nipal was unable to attend her prom and made a vow to help other young women who were in a similar situation and eventually started “The Princess Project” to achieve that goal.
Although Nipal & I were connected through the Women in Need Foundation based in Newport Beach, CA, she encouraged many of the foundation members who lived all over the nation to collect prom dresses and donate them to a local organization. She personally inspired me to collect more than 100 gowns and while searching for a local organization to donate them to, I came across The Ruby Room, a non-profit dedicated to providing prom gowns to low-income teens in the Seattle, WA area. The organization would change my life forever.
Nyla Bitterman, the Ruby Room Director, welcomed me with open arms to the Board of Directors after I fell in love with the organization. Some of my closest relationships with other board members and volunteers were forged at The Ruby Room and their generous ways have marked my heart forever.
After 6 amazing years with the Ruby Room and many tearful goodbyes, my husband’s job took us to Denver, CO. I immediately jumped in, knowing I wanted to continue the prom dress legacy in the Denver area. With the help of the Journey Church, located in Centennial, CO, I had the good fortune of being able to organize a prom dress donation project. With the help of many, we collected dresses and accessories and were able to provide 20 low-income teens with dresses and accessories in addition to hair and make-up appointments. The success of the donation project gave way to the “birth” of Bella Boutique, Denver’s first non-profit that partners low-income teens with a personal stylist who makes their time at the “boutique” magical, while they shop for a free formal dress as well as complimentary accessories, hair and makeup.
As many things in life do, my journey came full circle with the decision to start this organization. When thinking of a name, I thought back to how it all began with Nipal’s encouragement and inspiration. It only seemed fitting to name our organization after Nipal’s daughter, Danielle, who was affectionately nicknamed “Bella”. Tragically, Danielle suddenly lost her life after a long struggle with her health. Since “The Princess Project” was a passion for both Nipal and Danielle, the name “Bella” Boutique seemed the perfect way to honor Danielle and her mother.
Bella Boutique is committed to inspiring many young women throughout the Denver area and looks forward to many years of making prom wishes come true in our community. The work that we do would not have been possible without the help and inspiration from so many including Sara Blake, Jamie Untz, Kim Koenig, Tanya Firman, Heather Kittell, Austin Norris, Mamie Ling, Ashleigh Shetler and of course Nipal Bellmonde and Nyla Bitterman.