Bellina Caetano. Not only can you feel the Brazilian vibes but also the warm welcome as you step in. A space with palm trees on the walls, a chic couch, vintage decor, purses and an array of jewelry. What could be better? I recently had the opportunity to visit this charming store and chat with Bella Caetano who started the brand over a cup tea.
Surrounded by beautiful jewelry that includes the Rose, Malu, Lady and Ousadia collection; Bella revealed some sketches for jewelry she has been working on before I came it. “I’m always sketching.”she says. I was intrigued as I do not know about designing jewelry but the papers revealed a process that is not as simple as it looks. Working from an idea, concept, and sketch, it takes a few months to develop it to see what the final piece will be like. The jewelry is sourced and made in Brazil.
One of the designs Bella has framed and on display in the shop is for the Malu Ring. An idea that stemmed from a napoleonic ice cream cone , the final piece is unique and fun; different from a usual prong ring design with a smoky quartz, blue Agate and pink quartz, each stone’s position is like a scoop of ice cream. Bella says that she is working on a new color palette for this ring style using browns and black that includes a tiger eye stone, and quartz.
I asked what her most popular pieces in the shop and I was led to the Malu pieces which customers are familiar with and ask for when they come in, as well as the Lady collection. Coincidentally, these two are the collections that Caetano is most proud of too. Showing me the delicate Lady necklace with amethyst pendant, she says that the pendant design came from a botanical picture in a vintage book. She thought the shape reminded her of a lady and hence the name. Feminine and elegant, the collection which also includes earrings, rings and bracelets are meant to make you “Be gracefully bold”. Bella envisioned a woman perhaps going to a business meeting wearing the jewelry and feeling perhaps dauntless.
While having no formal jewelry education, Bella has an education and background in architecture. While she says that she learned a lot about design from her architecture classes, ultimately jewelry is her creative outlet that lead to her path as a business owner. Having moved from Brazil to Chicago three years ago, she attended a Creative Women’s Co. speed mentoring meeting. Bella says she wanted to learn more about being an entrepreneur. She says that there was so much she did not know, such as how to import the jewelry from Brazil.
There were many times that she felt overwhelmed, and wanted to quit when starting her brand, but she realized she was not just creating jewelry. And she was not doing it only for herself. She was doing it for her country, as a way to give back, and to inspire girls from her small hometown in Brazil. Having originally arrived in Denver, Colorado as an exchange student without knowing anyone, Bella wants to show these young women the opportunities and possibilities that are out there.
Bella Caetano started at the 900 Shops on Michigan Ave. as a 30-day pop-up shop. Having done well, Bella was able to come back for two more months during the holiday season. After the pop-up’s successful run, the space became permanent.
When I asked about what she sees for the future of Bellina Caetano, Bella says that she is working on perfecting the experience for the customer. She notes that in Brazil, it is customary for shops to be a hangout spot. She is working on going wholesale, her jewelry will be carried in other stores starting in October. And of course, keep designing and use her jewelry as a message of empowerment.
I have no doubt that the future endeavors of Bellina Caetano will be great. The jewelry is unique and beautiful. And, three years after attending that first speed mentoring meeting, Bella was the keynote speaker at a recent Creative Women’s Co. event telling about her experience and how she had to have purpose to succeed. From mentee to mentor – things have come full circle.
Visit Bellina Caetano at the 900 Shops, Level 5 at 900 N. Michigan or the Bellina Caetano website. Every last Wednesday of the month or Quarta Mineira, Bella offers complimentary coffee and Pão de queijo from 2pm to 7pm. Stop by.
All photos: Courtesy of Bellina Caetano.