Profile: Dawn Del Russo of Bella Dawn

Cynthia Cheng

Like many designers and stylists, Dawn Del Russo grew up not only playing with Barbies, but also designing and making clothes for them. A little girl with a wild imagination, Dawn played “D&D Boutique” with her sister, Denise, and would sell clothes to imaginary people. They would even have imaginary crowds, lining up to “shop” at D&D!

The business woman she is, Dawn went to college to pursue a degree in business before realizing her dream as a stylist and designer. It took several years of hard work, but the dream finally became reality in 2004 when Dawn opened Bella Dawn in Verona, New Jersey. Items at Bella Dawn are also available for sale online. Dawn’s clothes are not only affordable, but also very artsy and girly, very well-suited for many Prospere girls.

Prospere Magazine had the chance to speak with Dawn and asked her about her influences, her style and the future of Bella Dawn…..

On the name, “Bella Dawn”:

The Dawn was the easy part, my first name, and I always knew I wanted a store with my name in it! I just felt like it needed something more, and a name I absolutely loved was Bella, one because it means “beautiful” in Italian; I am Italian and love the language, two it has such a sweet sound to it. The very first time I said Bella Dawn I knew that was it!

On her fashion background:

I do have some training in the fashion industry. Besides working in retail since I was 16 (the Gap, Macy’s and Nordstroms), I took a few merchandising classes at Parson’s after I graduated from Wagner College. I think having that background knowledge gave me the edge to succeed in this business.

On how her business degree helped her:

I would recommend to any young girl with the desire to become and entrepreneur to have a degree in business, it has helped my career tremendously. I have a better understanding of the management side of things such as accounting, marketing, and the overall operations of a business. Of course having a talent is important as well, but with a business management background I can understand information more clearly and can handle situations without always having to be advised by others.

On her designer influences:

There are so many fabulous designers, and of course I love to buy all of their fashions, but from a business point of view, Vera Wang has been very influential to me. She is so successful yet grounded. She has been able to have a wonderful business and family life. I think it is so important to find a balance and to be able to have everything you want. I never want to feel I have to sacrifice my family, or marriage for the success, I want it all. (I can give you a list of successful designers I aspire to be like!)

On other influences:

My parents are both entrepreneurs. My mother is an interior designer and my father has a successful commercial construction business, so I grew up in a family with “big dreams.” I was never told I couldn’t achieve something. The passion for my own business was instilled in me at a young age for my father would tell me to be, independent, find what I love, and do it. When you have passion in your life you can have anything! He has always been the driving force behind all of my success, I was never told “you can’t do that” or “it won’t work,” he said “never say can’t” and till this day I live by that. We share a very special bond. We talk everyday about goals, ideas, and new ways to take both of our businesses to the next level. It is so important to find a mentor to guide you each day, and keep you on your path. It is not always easy to stay positive but with the right guidance nothing is impossible.

On selling guys’ clothes:

I actually, have always liked men’s clothes and felt that there are not many “men’s boutiques.” I have started off slowly with my husband as my guinea pig, but I have had an overwhelming response, with guys coming in asking when I have accessories and shoes! I’m working on it and will hopefully have much more soon. Guys are just as fashionable as women, if not more sometimes, and they want the new up and coming designers you can’t always find in the big department stores. I was to accommodate them as well. Besides, they are usually easy to please and quick shoppers!

On where she’d like to take Bella Dawn:

I would love to open more stores, and even incorporate more services into them. Right now I offer personal stylist and make-up services at my boutique. I want women to be able to come in and get a complete look. When my customers shop they receive complimentary stylist advice, with the option to purchase stylist packages as well.

Dawn’s boutique, Bella Dawn, is located at 522 Bloomfield Ave, Verona, New Jersey.  Bella Dawn items can also be purchased online.

Photos: Courtesy of Dawn Del Russo/Nicole Courides