By Shayna Mace
You opened Bella Tile & Stone in 2006, and now there are four locations in Lake Geneva and Delafield in Wisconsin; Wilmette, Illinois; and Park City, Utah. How did you get into the tile business?
My husband and I moved here from the Chicago area and we were building a house. My best friend was the builder, and she told me I had to choose tile for the home. I was looking for something unique and different, and I couldn’t get to Chicago or the Merchandise Mart at that time.
We finished the house, and my friend said, “Why don’t you open a tile store?” My dad was born and raised on a small island in Italy and when we would visit family there, I would see nothing but tile! So when [my friend] brought that up, it came full circle for me because tile was always something I’d appreciated—even though I knew nothing about it.
How did you differentiate your business from other tile stores?
When we opened we wanted really special things, and lines we cared about and loved. So we were very selective in finetuning that. [In pricing] we’re equally competitive with any local store—and we do all of the design services for free. The group of women I work with here are incredible at what they do, and they are so important to our business, too! And taking care of our clients is number one. I live my life by that—would I want someone to make an extra phone call, send that note, come to my house? All of the things I want, I try to be that person.
What do you like to recommend to clients who have a smaller budget to work with, since that’s where you have to be creative with cost?
We strive every day [to] create really interesting spaces and not make it crazy [expensive]. Beautiful, hand-cut tile is costly, but you can create a design with just three-by-six tile. There are so many ways to make things look different. Personally, those are my favorite [projects] … I strive to make [designs] that you wouldn’t have thought of.
What’s your favorite décor style?
I like a transitional aesthetic. I appreciate old-world and traditional style—but I’m also liking the simplicity of the modern, contemporary looks we’re seeing right now.