Shopping - Stores We Love

Peddling pretty

Nancy Won
Janis Nicolay

Feminine allure brings in the business at this exquisitely romantic decor store.

Walking into Stella Bleu, you can’t help but stop and sigh. Everywhere you look crystal chandeliers sparkle like raindrops, antique toile settees are piled high with pastel cushions, a hint of lavender from scented soap floats gently on the air… there’s no doubt this is a woman’s domain.

“It’s definitely a very feminine, pretty store!” laughs Jeannine Foley, who co-owns this South Surrey, British Columbia, home decor shop with best friend Kelley McNamara. “We don’t necessarily specialize in girly… we just love beautiful things!”

Featuring a glamorous mix of carved antiques lovingly restored by Kelley and Jeannine, crystals on everything from lighting to pillows and Deco-inspired pieces in nickel and mirrored glass, the shop is “flirty and pretty, but modern and elegant at the same time.”

In fact, mixing and matching is as much a mandate at Stella Bleu as beauty. “We love the look of ornate antiques mixed with clean lines,” says Jeannine. “Ornate can look over the top, but bring in a lacquered piece or a textured fabric and you’ve got a modern twist.”

Hearing them chat about the store, you’d think the two women were childhood playmates, but the truth is they met just four years ago. In February 2004, a pregnant Kelley walked into her favourite decor shop, Rue Stella, where Jeannine worked, to find everything on sale—including the shop! “I knew right away I wanted to buy it, but here I was, nine months pregnant, with no retail experience,” she laughs. “I was in way over my head.”

On a whim, Kelley, a dental assistant with a chronic decorating habit, approached Jeannine, a design grad with dreams of owning her own decor shop, about going into business together. “Never in a million years did I think she would agree to buy the store with a stranger, but we clicked right away and the rest is history,” says Kelley. “We’re inseparable now!”

Within four months (during which Kelley gave birth to her daughter, Lauren), the store reopened with a new location, a new name and a lot more glitz and glam. “Rue Stella had more of a rustic, cottagey feel,” recalls Kelley. “Stella Bleu is more refined—I always say it’s part French boudoir, part Old Hollywood.” And the concept works. “We don’t feel like you have to be committed to any one look,” says Kelley, “so when we’re shopping for the store, anything goes!” Quickly adding, “…as long as it’s feminine and beautiful!”

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