This retro, boho shop with small-batch, recycled goods in Wabash is a haven of inclusivity

From the comforting smells of its small-batch candles, to its rug-covered terrazzo floors, and its glowing brick walls adorned with far-out pictures, Bellazo is a haven of self-expression and sustainable fashion in downtown Wabash.

It might be summed up by the groovy, feel-good sign affixed above its door.

Bellazo participates in First Fridays in downtown Wabash.

Having grown up in the community, the Owner, Darcy Vail, says she wasn’t sure she would come back to Wabash after she graduated high school and went to travel and experience the world. Now, she can’t imagine not coming back and opening Bellazo downtown with her husband almost 15 years ago.

In her eyes, Wabash is the perfect place to raise her two daughters and run her small business. Doing so has allowed her to bring some peace, love, and big-culture culture to the area, too. 

Darcy Vail

With Bellazo, Vail intentionally designed a space where everyone is encouraged and accepted as they are. What has resulted is a retro, bohemian shop where you can support local art, enjoy some healthy Midwestern humor, and find a thoughtfully curated collection of handmade goods and recycled clothing.

“There is more than one way to express yourself, and creating a safe place for people to explore what that means to them is important,” Vail says.

Bellazo offers vintage and modern recycled fashions.

Visit Bellazo today, and you’ll find incredible deals on vintage and designer items for women. Vail says she likes to pass the savings onto her customers—with prices often 70 percent below retail. But what you might be surprised to learn is that this cozy retail business actually started as an artisan bread shop. 

Vail is a baker who has an eclectic background in restaurant and retail management, massage therapy, and a human resources degree. She was even on her way to becoming an addiction counselor when her passion for baking and thrifting for unique finds took hold.

Bellazo offers a selection of curated, small-batch products and recycled fashion.

After acquiring most of her early bakery clients through the local farmer’s market, Vail decided to open her first shop in 2015.

Named for her two daughters, Bella and Zoe, Bellazo was a bread shop, featuring a commercial kitchen and a small 200-square-foot retail space in downtown Wabash.

At first, customers came for Vail’s delicious and beautiful loaves of bread. But soon, they started coming back for her unique thrifted finds in the front retail space. As her bread and fashion businesses grew simultaneously, she knew that she would have to focus on one, either baking or thrifting, full-time.

Ultimately, her passion for fashion won out (though she still enjoys baking as a hobby).

Bellazo has a cozy, home-like vibe in a historic building.

Now, Bellazo has grown to be in its fourth location and shows no signs of stopping. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Vail moved quickly to adapt her business to the web and social media, creating a virtual experience of her shop that allows you to browse from home.

To keep up with the ever-changing pace of the fashion industry, Vail stays up-to-date on all the trends so she can pick clothing that is popular, as well as cool, unique—and more sustainable than buying new. As for the rest of the precious gems at Bellazo, she credits her vendors in the Wabash community and beyond.

Each one has a perspective that gets people to think about the world in a different light, Vail says.

Each vendor Bellazo works with has a perspective that gets people to think about the world in a different light, Vail says.

Locally, she works with Kaleigh Middelkoop Photography to set the mood for customers entering her shop. She also sells the zodiac jewelry of Leighanne Fitzpatrick, and the boho macramé pieces of Emily Gohring.

Along with supporting local artists, Vail says another goal is to create a space in downtown Wabash where residents can experiment with fashion and find items that “fit” them, both literally and figuratively. That means providing items at a wide range of price points, styles, and sizes.

“Everybody and every body is accepted and celebrated here,” she says. “I will always provide an inclusive environment for all.”

Darcy Vail, left, enjoys running Bellazo with her family in Wabash.

While Wabash Indiana might be seen as a small town or rural Indiana community, it has a thriving arts and culture scene and a rich history, well-preserved in its original downtown buildings. Vail hopes Bellazo contributes to the city’s art culture.

Opening the shop has made an impact on her life, as well. Though many people may not know it, Vail is a self-described introvert. She says she often feels awkward in public settings, like sports events or when she has to do public speaking.

However, in her shop, she is a social butterfly who can’t wait to talk to guests. She has met several of her closest friends through her shop and has even become close with several other business owners in the downtown Wabash area.

“Being able to work my dream job in a small town, like Wabash, is the best of both worlds,” she says. “I love the small-town comradery and sharing ideas or talking shop with others who pour their heart and soul into what they do.”

Brick walls and colorful accents liven up Bellazo's space.

According to Vail, owning a business in Wabash is about lifting about all those around you and making Wabash great as a whole. Bellazo proudly stands with other Wabash businesses every month at the community’s First Fridays events where they celebrate all the unique businesses located throughout the Wabash County.

The best part about owning a business for Vail, though, comes in the form of being able to work on Bellazo with those she cares for most: Her family. Vail’s husband owns Green Hat, a local marketing and media company. He acts as her technology guru and has been supportive of her business from the very start.

Darcy Vail, right, is the owner of Bellazo with her husband.

Both of her daughters have also taken an interest in spending time with their mom in the shop, Vail says. Though they currently focus on making Tik-Toks, hanging out with their friends, and shopping within the walls of Bellazo, they have shown interest in taking on more responsibility for the store as they get older. In the meantime, Vail loves having them close by while she grows her business and provides a multifaceted shopping experience.

The next time you are in downtown Wabash and looking for somewhere fun to go, seek out the shop with a glowing peace sign. Look for the friendly face of Vail behind the counter; take in the smells; enjoy the pictures; and feel free to be absolutely, positively yourself.

You never know what treasures you’ll discover in the little shop called Bellazo.
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