Hello Belle leads the way in retail and virtual shopping.
Bethany Kay Walsh can seemingly do it all. She takes her interview in a small schedule opening between her Facebook Live show and her daughter’s school pickup. As she answers questions about her business, the professional multitasker also stops at Sonic to pick up a drink for a friend who has just had surgery.
“We have the opportunity to make someone’s day,” Bethany says.
This is a message she has come to live by. After grabbing her friend’s diet strawberry limeade, Bethany makes a shocking announcement — the fashion truck that has become synonymous with her brand is being retired and her business is moving to online sales. But Bethany makes clear that she is just getting started.Her days are typically quite hectic. She has her hands in every aspect (from making sales to taking out the trash) of her business Hello Belle, an online clothing and fashion company where women can shop locally for any occasion. The company, which Bethany says started as “the Pampered Chef of boutiques,” has now become an online mega-shop with a 5,000-foot warehouse that stores 30,000 garments, ready for shipping.
“We really offer everything for everyone.”— Bethany Kay Walsh
“We really offer everything for everyone,” Bethany says. The brand’s buyers range in age from 16 to 80.
To find the best materials, Bethany travels the country to trade shows and works with wholesalers, buying garments that are unique to her brand.
“We spend hours talking with vendors, designing one of a kind pieces, picking garments and accessories with our customers in mind,” says Emily Kliethermes, a buyer and stylist at Hello Belle.
“We’re not influenced by other boutiques,” Bethany adds. “I want 100% of what we put out to be strictly Hello Belle.”
Best of all, each outfit is under $50. Clients can order through a mobile app called Hello Belle Co. or through live streams on Hello Belle’s Facebook page. On the livestreams, as Bethany and her employees enthusiastically model and describe every piece of clothing, clients can put the look in their cart or leave the comment “sold” with the corresponding item numbers and sizes. Once they’ve secured the garment, Hello Belle’s team at the warehouse pulls the look off the rack, prepares it for shipping, and the outfit arrives at the customer’s doorstep within a few days.
Now, Bethany has more than 16,000 clients and gets between 500 and 1,000 orders a week. As her business has expanded, she’s had to hire a graphic designer and social media employee. Suffice it to say, business is booming. But it didn’t always look this way. Bethany got her start at the age of 17 at the clothing store Saffees in Jefferson City.
“I cannot say enough good things,” she says, reminiscing on her time at the store.
Bethany saw how the Saffees Mercurio family treated their clients like family, and she pledged to adopt this hospitality into her own business — making sure that every client felt seen and heard.
After a stint decorating nursing homes and later working in the insurance field, Bethany wanted to follow her dreams even further. As a wife and mother, she certainly understands how difficult it can be to get away for a little “me time.” She would often shop on her lunch breaks whenever she needed a new outfit. Uncovering her passion for making shopping accessible for women, Bethany began traveling the state of Missouri with a pop-up boutique.
We have the opportunity to make someone’s day.— Bethany Kay Walsh
The boutique later turned into a one-of-a-kind fashion truck (built by Bethany’s husband and childhood sweetheart, Adam Kay). The truck was a way to sell hip outfits to eager patrons with packed schedules. For Bethany, everything was right on track, except for one incident when the truck’s brakes went out while she was barreling down the highway. She had to roll to a stop and wait until someone could pick her up.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Bethany had plans to expand her business to two trucks, but distancing restrictions made that impossible.
“I kind of felt like I was backed into a corner. I had this great business model, I loved the fashion trucks,” Bethany says. But she was forced to think on her feet; she was unwilling to put her employees at risk.
“I had to have a backup plan,” she says.
Bethany had already dabbled in online sales, but after the pandemic hit, she realized it was time to go all in. The venture paid off. This year, she expects her business to have grown by 256% since last year
“All in God’s timing,” she says with tears building. “No amount of words can even express how thankful I am and blessed.”
Most of all, Bethany believes in the power of women, and empowerment is the name of her game.
“Women have so much on their plates,” Bethany says.
The opportunity to shop for clothing can be like a therapy session for many. From her mother to her friends, strong women have always stood beside Bethany in her business. Now, she wants to return the favor. Whether she’s delivering a drink or a dazzling outfit, Bethany Kay seizes the opportunity to make people’s days.