Sister trio behind Westport-based jewelry store Lula Belle
Published 3:07 pm, Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Three sisters in their 30s -- having forged their own paths professionally -- are working together as business partners in Lula belle Fashion & Accessories.
Middle sister Mica DeSantis used to be in sales and marketing for IBM in New York City until multiple sclerosis forced her departure.
"I could no longer meet the demands," she said. "My daily routine had to be altered."
It was DeSantis' battle with MS that helped serve as the impetus for the company.
"We started the jewelry business because we knew we wanted to create awareness, and we thought this would be a fun, creative way to do it," said DeSantis. "Not to mention, we all always wanted to do some kind of project together. And for me, I can do this on my own schedule, and still be able to rest when need be."
A section of oldest sister Cassandra Echevarria's Westport home serves as Lula belle's physical space for open houses and special appointments. However, most of the company's sales take place online at www.lula-belle.com
Lula belle has a costume jewelry line that has everything for those young and older, as well as sterling silver and gemstone jewelry. What the ladies are most proud of however, is the company's b-Cause line of jewelry, which raises awareness of and money for myriad causes, not solely MS. All of the awareness bracelets, designed by the sisters, are made of thin straps of leather with silver and color studs on top. Colors are dependent upon whether it's an awareness bracelet meant for breast cancer, MS, diabetes or another illness.
The "Awareness Spotlight" of the month, according to lula-belle.com, is on Randy, an 8-year-old boy who was recently diagnosed with diabetes and whose family, struggling financially, needs an Animas One Touch Ping Insulin Pump with supplies "to make the daily struggle a little more manageable." Such a pump will give Randy small doses of insulin, continuously throughout the day and night, reducing the three daily injections to one every three days. Lula belle donated funds toward the expense of the pump last month and that in turn raised awareness at Randy's school. The Parent Teacher Organization and a family member of a school staffer then came up with the money for the remaining cost of the pump.
DeSantis said Lula belle is open to supporting many causes because whether you struggle with MS, diabetes or cancer, as well as other diseases and afflications, "We're all pieces of this big puzzle."
"We should all be aware of each other and should be supporting each other," she said. In addition to the awareness bracelets, the sisters are also working on an original fragrance. But until that comes to fruition, the bracelets are the current focus.
As more people see others wearing them, the more likely the chances of people inquiring about them, and the answers, said DeSantis, will reveal the bracelet's purpose.
"It gets the message going," she added.
DeSantis said she and her sisters really lived a pretty charmed life until she was diagnosed with MS. Then they realized what was truly important.
"It definitely changed the way we saw things, as well as what I was striving for (professionally)," she said. "It made us appreciate our health. It showed us that there's people dealing with these kinds of things all the time."
And now the sisters do what they can to make a difference.
To see what Lula belle has to offer, log onto Lula-Belle.com or call to make an appointment to visit the company's 26 Newtown Turnpike location. The phone number is 203-807-5235.