By Michele DeLuca
Niagara Gazette — It all started with some buttons, broken pieces of antique jewelry and cigar boxes.
Louise Scalzo would scour antique shows and garage sales to find lovely old cast-offs and create interesting and unique ladies accessories as a hobby.
Thanks to the generosity of her boss, Judi Justiana, owner of Judi's Lounge where Scalzo worked as a bartender, she was able to display some of her pieces at the bar and restaurant and developed a small following for her pieces.
That's also where she met JoAnn Simon, who had come in for a LaSalle High School class reunion party one night several years ago. The two struck up a friendship and, spurred by mutual interest in fashion, a partnership.
Simon, who retired recently from her job as a master sergeant with the Air Force Reserves, had always had an interest in fashion, and had started her retail career at age 16, working at the former Jenss store in Niagara Falls.
The pair, motivated by a single dream of opening a boutique, started gathering stock and began doing home parities and selling their products at festivals and special events. In 2011 they won first place among amateur artists at the 2011 Main Street Art and Music Festival.
Fast forward to this past November when the pair finally were able to open their own boutique, called Moda Bella, located in the same building as Judi’s, with a separate entrance at the side of the building.
The pair has filled the little shop with clothes, purses, hats, shoes and other accessories that they have gathered. They also offer consignments from local artisans including gift items such as candles, music, books and more.
“I think anybody that’s interested in a good price on decent quality merchandise would enjoy shopping here,” said Scalzo. “We have different, unusual stuff you don’t see everywhere else.”
Moda Bella is open Thursday and Friday evening from 5 to 8 p.m. and every Saturday and Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. The pair also hosts private home shopping parties and inside the boutique. For more information about booking parties and this remarkable new boutique, visit their Facebook page: Moda Bella Showroom, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Simon at 471-0002 or Scalzo at 205-8974.