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Best of Western WashingWe are two girls with the same Italian last name, (sister-in-laws). Karen is a crafter and Dawn keeps Karen out of trouble.. sorta. Granted we were just heading out for Sunday breakfast and it turned into much more than just an appetizer pancake! But Dawn should have seen it coming, honestly, how could she not?

The story goes like this…

One November morning in 2011 we headed out to the Black Diamond Bakery for breakfast. Found a great parking spot right up front but before we could get out of the Jeep, THREE large tour buses pulled up and started unloading a TON of people. Feeling too hungry to wait, we went someplace else to eat breakfast, which turned out to be a disappointment soooo….

The following Sunday we headed to the Black Diamond Bakery again, only this time earlier. The wait was about 15 minutes to be seated in the restaurant so we grabbed some baked goods and headed to the espresso bar area to enjoy our before breakfast snack. That’s when we saw the charming empty room that use to be a Native American shop.

why buying local is worth every centThe Black Diamond Bakery & Restaurant owners were going to make it into a banquet room for large parties but they were willing to hear what we had to say and to see a sample of our products (also known as Karen’s inventory). After hearing our vision and thinking it over a few days it was a go!

Isn’t it just crazy how life happens? So here we are running a little gift shop that focuses on handmade goods, while working our full time jobs.

After the first year of business, we learned more than we could imagine! We had a vendor party celebrating the first year anniversary of Bella (as we call her). After the party we discussed how we’d been embraced by the community, lucky to have talented craft friends, landlords that believed in our dream, and a restaurant staff that treated us like family.

But, how can we improve what we already have? We went through our calendar of events that we keep at the front desk. The repeating message was, “you should be open more often” With that being said, we looked at our corporate jobs and started putting things in place for Dawn to be at the shop more often… and Karen getting more time to create and weld.

The plan for 2013 was that Dawn will be at the shop full time and Karen, while still working her corporate job, will be able to hit welding class more often (yippee!), continue to make sassy greeting cards, and be the primary contact for crafty friends. Dawn focused on day to day business operations and running the shop.

Some important things we learned was that it truly takes a team to run a successful small business and the ability to place the right people in the proper area to make things run smoothly.

By no means would either of us say it’s easy but it is very rewarding. It warms our heart to hear people come in and say, “I love this shop” and to bring their family and friends from near and far for us to meet.

Karen has been making stuff since 2005 and at one time she was in 19 retail shops. It’s amazing how much you can learn from other shops but until you are on the shop owner side of the fence, you really just don’t know what it is like to have a retail shop.

Dawn has been in sales most of her life and she’s the main mouth-piece for Bella. Most the time you can find her in the shop, she works 60 hours a week so that Bella can be open 7 days a week. She tutors kids that come to the Bakery after school. She also volunteers to help the PTA at school just up the street. As businesses along Railroad Avenue changed, the charm and true feeling of community remains the same in the little town of Black Diamond.

The plan for 2017 is that we are going to take what we learned while at the Black Diamond Bakery and get our own place, no landlord, no rules!  …ok, Dawn says rules are good… BUT NO LANDLORD and we are going to do FUN stuff, like TEACH and INSPIRE! But first we need to find a spot to call our own then MAKE it our own, so hang tight!  We are working on it.

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