AGAWAM – Agawam has a new home for artisan jewelry and handcrafted gifts. Vanessa Tuttle opened BellaNess in the mill on Elm Street on Oct. 1.
Tuttle began selling opened a shop for her handmade jewelry on Etsy, an online marketplace, in 2012. Because of her husband’s military career, they have been “bouncing back and forth” between Virginia and Connecticut for a few years.
Though the shop is still open on the website, she said her dream was to open a store. When they settled back into Connecticut, her husband ultimately pushed her to make her dream a reality.
“I turned the big three five this year, and my husband said if I don’t do it now I’m never going to do this. This spot kind of just fell into our laps,” she said. “It was just this moment where this is where I’m supposed to be, so we went for it.”
BellaNess is settled inside the mills with much of the original interior still in tact, which Tuttle said she loved about it.
Tuttle’s jewelry has been featured in bridal magazines in Virginia, as well as worn by Miss Teen Virginia and Miss Virginia contestants.
While BellaNess is a chance for Tuttle to display her work, she also said she wants it to be a place for other artisan crafts, whatever they might be. In addition to her own creations, Tuttle has stocked everything from bags and hats to chocolates and a beard and mustache hair care line. The artisans, she said, come from all over.
“From making connections by doing vendor fairs and artisan craft shows, I just wanted to bring that feel here to the shop. I don’t think people realize how much work goes into artisan craftwork,” Tuttle said. “There are amazing products that are out there. You don’t always have to go to Kohl’s or JCPenny or somewhere to find a good product. Sometimes it’s just right around the corner in your hometown.”
She said she hopes to be a mainstay in Agawam, providing residents with a new locally owned business with a positive environment.
“I hope to be here for years to come and meet a lot of great people and have them feel like this is a place they can come visit, shop and enjoy themselves,” Tuttle said. “I don’t want them to feel like it’s one of those stores where they come in and can’t touch anything. Pull up a chair, hang out and enjoy yourself.”
For more information about BellaNess, visit www.facebook.com/BellaNessDesigns or call 304-0098.