Friday, October 7, 2011

Thank You!

A big thank you to all of you who joined us on Sept. 24 to celebrate Bella Italia's anniversary bash.  It's been eight truly wonderful years of discovery and sharing with our customers. And it's been a memorable and rewarding year since we moved from Cupcake Alley (Bethesda Avenue) to our new location on Hampden Lane.  While the pedestrian traffic may be lighter we feel like we have found our home.

As with most anniversaries, this one gave us an opportunity to reflect on our journey over the past years. And I wanted to share a few thoughts about what it's like to own and operate a small business these days.  While politicians fight with each other just a few miles away about "job creators" and stimuli, it is clear to us that their machinations are barely relevant to our daily lives. No, we have learned -- as we have toiled to keep open the doors of a high end, narrow niche business and scraped pennies together to meet payroll to maintain the jobs of some terrific colleagues, all the while coping with a series of disruptive construction projects, a historic world financial crisis and a tepid recovery -- that what is important is not the macro, but the micro.  We can't control the cost of the Euro or even know if it will exist next year.  We can't control if people will shop more during the holidays than they did last year.  All we can control is what we do and love it with all of our heart.  And we do.

A happy result -- perhaps the most important result of all -- of our frequent trips to Italy over the past few years has been our discovery of what we have found, for us, is a far better way of life than the "American" life that preceded it.  In Italy we have experienced a modo di vivere that values relationships and connectedness first - connections with the natural world and selfless loving relationships with those around you - and then takes it as an article of faith that the material needs will take care of themselves.  We feel this spirit strongly in our adopted home near Assisi, it perhaps being a vestige of the Saint's presence there centuries ago.  But we see and feel it too in the faces and hearts of the Italians we have met across that lovely peninsula.

The past year has seen Suzy and me redouble our efforts at Bella Italia but even more so our commitment to what made us hatch this crazy idea nearly a decade ago.  A love for la dolce vita and all that it represents.  Some may think that we sell products.  We think we share treasures.  Treasures that hold inside them the spirit of a loving artist who wakes up every morning loving his work the same way his father and grandfather and grandfather's father did.  We think that those people and that way of life deserves to be supported.  We wake up every day, too, loving our work and thinking of who we are working for.

Small businesses like ours are fragile creatures.  We don't have marketing budgets, IT departments or corporate jets.  If you like what you see or what you've experienced at Bella Italia, it's likely due to the efforts of one of the small handful of us who do this daily. And what you told us last Saturday by celebrating our anniversary with us is that you do like what we do (even if some of you came only for the chance to win a week at the villa).

So if you do love the Bella experience like we do, you can help.  More than you can imagine.  Help us spread the word about Bella Italia.  When your friend says she is going to buy a wedding present at Nordstroms, let her know that a gift from Bella Italia will be more unique and thoughtful. Bring a friend or two (or three) by to meet us.  Think of us when you shop for the holidays.  Come with us on our Umbria Food and Wine tour or rent our villa in Umbria. Come to our book club, wine tastings or other special events.  Have your company send custom gift baskets to your clients.  Take a cooking class when Chef Simone visits in January.  Talk us up in the press.
Because as much as we believe in Bella Italia and la dolce vita we can't do it alone.  If you believe too, we welcome your support.

Looking forward to another fantastic year.

Ci vediamo!
Bill and Suzy

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