Category Archives: Bella Magazine

Shop Girl: Ashley from Urban Gypsy

Why did you start Urban Gypsy?
I’ve been in the business for years and you reach a point where you build your confidence and you say, “I can do this!” You kind of want to project your sense of style and where you’ve been, and help others build their confidence and find their own style.

What do you love most about your job?
There’s no greater feeling than walking down the street and seeing someone rock an outfit that you have put on them. I’m also incredibly fortunate to have each one of my girls on the staff. You can’t get anywhere in life solo. I come up with some really crazy ideas whether its windows, events, volunteering, and they just kind of go with it.

How did you decide on Grandin Village for Urban Gypsy’s location?It was just this quaint neighborhood that I wanted to be part of, and I saw the potential of growth. It’s given me a sense of community. I love the people. It’s nice to just walk down the street, know practically everyone, and know they are rooting for you.

What is your favorite quote as a business owner?
“This too shall pass.” Whether it’s a trend that I cringe over or just a really bad day. My grandfather is my biggest inspiration, and maybe that’s where I get that from. He perseveres through every type of obstacle, and he has taught me strength.

What else inspires you?
I’m inspired by random acts of kindness. I take them as a sign that there is still humanity out there.

What are you excited about for fall?
Bright colors, sweater weather, and our redesigned website! This will be like a second store. There will be website exclusives that you can only get online, so be sure to check it out: www.urbangypsyva.com

Save Smarter: Avoid Financial Scams

Being a victim of fraud can be devastating. It’s not just the loss of someone’s hard-earned money that makes it so upsetting; it’s also the breach of one’s privacy and personal information. Here are some common scam tactics and ways to protect yourself and your money.

Skimming devices. These typically appear on gas pumps or ATMs and capture information from the magnetic strip on credit and debit cards. One way to protect your information is to check for obvious signs of tampering like an open or broken box, different color material, or graphics that aren’t aligned correctly. Avoid anything that seems questionable. Another tactic is to go inside a building to pay or withdraw money. Criminals need privacy to install skimmers and are less likely to do so if they can be easily seen.

Fake checks. Criminals will attempt to cheat you out of thousands of dollars by writing you a check for more than is due or claiming you’ve won prize money. You’re then asked to deposit the check and return part of the money. The trick? This is a bad check, and you’re now liable for all the money withdrawn from your account. As a rule of thumb, don’t accept checks or money orders as forms of payment from people you don’t know. Stick to cash or payment services like PayPal or Venmo.

Romance scams. In this scam, criminals use a dating service, online ad, or social media to establish a relationship as quickly as possible. After the criminal gains the victim’s trust, they could propose marriage, make plans to meet in person (which rarely happens), and eventually ask for money. To avoid this scam, be wary of who you communicate with online, especially those you haven’t met in person. Never give out your account information to anyone online or over the phone, no matter how legitimate it may seem.

Synthetic identity theft. This type of fraud is accomplished by combining real and fake information to create a fictitious identity. Typically, the criminal will use a social security number (SSN) and pair it with a fake name then use this to obtain credit, open deposit accounts, and obtain driver’s licenses and passports. To protect your identity, don’t carry your social security card unless you really need it. Keep any paperwork that contains your SSN in a safe place and shred any unnecessary documents that contain the number.

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

Meet Erica Snipes of Imagination Station!

When did you decide to start working for Imagination Station?
I needed a fun part-time job, and I have a twelve-year-old so we spent a lot of time in the toy store in Blacksburg. The owner put up a notice and said she was looking for help, so I decided that was a sign! Then, about half a year after I started working for them we decided we were going to move to Roanoke so my daughter could go to school here. The owner asked if I wanted to manage a toy store in Roanoke if they opened one. I thought about it, and a couple months later I said I would do it.

What is one important lesson that you’ve learned along the way as a manager?
Unlike some other retail businesses, you are growing up with the families and the kids. Establishing a relationship is really important. We are more than a place to come and shop. Upstairs we have a room that has toys, games, and books that we call our “chill out” room. You can just hang out; you don’t have to buy something. Go to Cups, grab a coffee, and bring your kids here.

With the technology we have available, why is this type of imaginative play still so important?
We are passionate about helping parents, caregivers, and teachers find ways to keep children engaged. With the advent of technology, it is so easy for all of us as caregivers to just hand over the cell phone or the iPad. There needs to be more tactile person-to-person play. For example, building blocks used to be the core of play. Everybody had building blocks, but people don’t really buy them anymore because they have so many pieces. They say their child doesn’t really know what to do with them. However, they need to be bored and build something because it helps with learning physics, gravity, and trial and error.

Find Imagination Station at www.imaginationstoys.com.

Meet Katy of GypsyPalooza Too!

What led you to the idea for GypsyPalooza Too?

When I first started, I was making jewelry, and I thought the space I rented in Salem would be my studio. Then I decided I really wanted a store. I love clothes and jewelry, and I love being around women who come in looking for something to make them feel pretty. [Opening a store] wasn’t my original intention, but it completely organically happened and I followed it.

What do you hope that your customers take away from their experience with you?

We do way more than sell dresses. We give women confidence and help them try on things outside of their comfort zone. I had a lady whose husband sent her with his credit card because he loved the way she looked when she went home. We are so hard on ourselves, and we need to be nice to ourselves and kind.

Who are your biggest inspirations?

Iris Apfel (fair to say, she is also one of our biggest inspirations) and Magnolia Pearl

Do you have a favorite quote that guides you in your role as a business owner?

“Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good.” Minor Myers

What is your favorite up incoming style?

I love layering up lacy summer pieces, or dressing them up with clothes for colder weather! For example, adding a cozy sweater and a funky pair of boots. I love vintage hats too!

Find GypsyPalooza Too on Facebook!

Kids & Interior Design in Southeast Roanoke

The story begins with Mike Eaton, who lives in Southeast Roanoke with his family, contacting me about painting the interior of his home. A few days later, Joey Coakley, Bella publisher, is in a car with me driving to Mike’s home. Joey is to be their paint color consultant!

So, is it true you haven’t done any upgrades since you bought your home 9 years ago?
Mike: Yes, with the exception of painting the kids’ rooms, we haven’t done much of anything in the house. And let me tell you it was a long nine years–did you see the hideous purple living room walls? From the Barney-colored living room to the pea green dining room, the house was in desperate need of fresh paint and modern upgrades to truly make it feel like a home.

We bought the house with the intention of updating and painting, but the reality was after we moved here–me, my wife, Armendia and our 10 year old son, Lewis–life became very busy for us and home improvements were put on the back burner. And before you know it 9 years have gone by.

What happened? Let me guess, more children?
Mike: Yes. We started being foster parents. Our first one, Addy, was such a sweetheart. It breaks your heart learning of the environments and experiences these kids have lived through. We have the space and feel compelled to give a home to these children. We ended up adopting Addy.

Since then we have had numerous children stay with us, mostly for a brief period. In December of 2015 we received a call for two-day-old James. To make a long story short we ended up adopting James and his four-year-old brother, Donny. Now our home AND our hearts are full. As a matter of fact our home is so full we are planning on adding an additional master bedroom/bathroom to our home!

What’s it like, fostering children?
Mike: We 100% love it but it can be emotionally hard. Armendia was working outside the home until recently but now she works full-time with the kids. She has the patience of a saint because it can be stressful at times but there are also tremendous amounts of joy with these precious little ones. The children have had rough backgrounds and like with any kids, life isn’t predictable with them. But truly we consider it a blessing and honor to be bringing them into our family. We wish we could have more.

How does someone become a foster parent?
Mike: Start off by contacting your local Department of Social Services. Training consists of nine weeks of PRIDE classes. Basically, boot camp for prospective foster parents. The classes contain a lot of good information. There is tremendous need in the Roanoke Valley for qualified foster parents to provide a safe, loving home to these wonderful children.  

Can I become a foster parent?
Mike: Anyone can! But for you, I recommend adopting a cat or two first to “get your feet wet!”

Tell us a little bit about your background. Are you Roanoke natives?
Mike: Armendia is, but I’m originally from New Jersey. After being stationed in Norfolk for five years with the U.S. Navy we moved to Roanoke to be closer to her family. I was fortunate to get a job as an electrician at Norfolk Southern. Our day to life is very routine. I pack my lunchbox, go to work, and clock in. When the bell rings, I leave and come home to my lovely family in a quiet neighborhood in Southeast Roanoke–just like in the movies!

At the time our budget led us to the Southeast section of Roanoke. We were able to find a bigger home on a smaller budget in the quaint Waverly Place neighborhood.

Moving to the present, you now have a beautifully colored interior for your home. How did you come up with this color combination?
Mike: We knew we needed help! We wanted something timeless, yet trendy and modern. With Joey Coakley Beck’s guidance we now have wonderful new colors that highlight our home’s interior. It truly feels like a new place. The interior is bright and airy where before it seemed dark and cramped. It’s great! Thank you, Joey!

By way of closing, Armendia says, “Please contact me if you have any questions at all about foster parenting. My email is mendieaton@gmail.com

Click here for more information on fostering a child within Roanoke.

Information is also available here for Salem and Roanoke County residents.

 

Interior paint colors:
Living and family rooms: Sterling
Dining room: Fresh Willow
Kitchen: Tinfoil
Trim: Ultra Pure White
Ceilings: Matte White

All paints by Behr Marquee.

Written by River Laker

 

 

 

 

What We’re Reading

Stories from the Holocaust by Nancy Wright Beasley

Nancy Wright Beasley Photo Credit: Jay Paul

Izzy’s Fire: Finding Humanity in the Holocaust is about the “miraculous journey that finally led Edna Ipson and her family from the heel of the Nazis to ‘the other side of hell.’” The Little Lion is the story of Laibale Gillman, a teenager living in Lithuania who showed courage beyond his years by devising a plan that helped several of his family members escape Kovno Ghetto, where they were forced by Nazi troops. Nancy Wright Beasley, author of both books, sat down with us to discuss what led her to these stories and why it is important to tell them for generations to come.

Why do you think this time period is covered now more than ever, and why is that important?
Firsthand history is quickly diminishing. Most Holocaust survivors are quite elderly, even if they were children or just born at the end of the Holocaust, they are now in their 70s. The firsthand accounts, memoirs, and gripping stories are so important because [the Holocaust] had horrendous consequences and always will. We will not live long enough, I don’t think, to outlive the consequences. Think of what was taken from our world. How many great writers, physicians, inventors, and scientists? I think we owe it to them to tell their stories.

What led you to these specific stories out of so many from the Holocaust?
I’ve always said that Izzy’s Fire chose me. The decision was made for me to write about the Holocaust in Richmond at the Emek Sholom Holocaust Memorial Cemetery. Every November, they have a Kristallnacht ceremony to remember the “Night of Broken Glass.” I went to the ceremony one year, and I heard a beautiful service that November day. At the end, the survivors walk to the microphone and say the names of family members that did not survive. Alan Zimm was the last one. I counted on my fingers as he said the names, and I ran out of fingers before he ran out of names. I went up to him afterwards and I told him he had changed my life. I had to write about the Holocaust.

How did The Little Lion come about after writing Izzy’s Fire?
The Little Lion is a character in Izzy’s Fire. I could not tell his story at the same time, because it would have deviated from the story I was trying to tell in Izzy’s Fire. I went to my friend, Neil November, and he asked what I had in mind next. A friend of mine told me I needed to go to Hollins University. I went to see Neil, and he thought I should enroll and financed it. He had no idea what I was going to write and neither did I. I thought it would be a children’s storybook, and what it became was a young adult novel based on Laibale Gillman.

The Little Lion was adapted for the stage by Irene Ziegler, and the world premier was held January 30 through March 5, 2016 at Swift Creek Mill Theatre in South Chesterfield, Virginia. A stage reading will take place at Mill Mountain Theatre on Friday, September 8 at 7pm, and Saturday, September 9 at 8pm. Beasley will be available following both performances to sign books. She will also be speaking at the South County Library in Roanoke on Saturday, September 2 at 2pm, and will be selling signed copies of her book afterwards.

If you are interested in learning more about Beasley’s career, including her trips to Lithuania and the descendants and survivors behind her stories, purchasing her books, or subscribing to her newsletter, visit www.nancywrightbeasley.com.

Make Your Money Work for You!

Presented by Member One Federal Credit Union

From a young age, you’re told to save money for the future. But when it comes time to actually put learning into practice, many of us just don’t know where to begin. A savings account is a great start, but are you aware of how easy it can be to earn more on the money you already have? Here are five tips to get going with investing.

Do your research. You can read books and online articles, listen to podcasts, and even attend classes to learn more about investing. While it’s important to arm yourself with knowledge, nothing beats face-to-face advice, especially if you’re new to investing. Meet with your financial institution to see what they offer and to get that personal, expert guidance.

Start with low-risk options. Money market accounts and share certificates are examples of low-risk investments that are available at most financial institutions. These can be good ways to jump-start your investment goals because the chances of you losing any money are minimal.

Save for retirement now. Whether it’s a long way off or could happen in a few years, it’s never too early (or late) to think about retirement savings. One of the best ways is to invest in your employer’s retirement package. Speak to the human resources department to understand how the package works and if your employer is willing to match contributions. If they do, max it out so you don’t leave any money on the table.

Budget for investing. This is where setting a budget comes in handy because it can help determine how much you can afford to allocate toward investments. Five percent of your take-home income is a good place to begin. You might need to make some adjustments or take money from your discretionary fund to get to that five percent, but don’t take this amount from your fixed expenses like bills, emergency fund, or savings goals.

Give it time. Keep in mind that there are many paths to building wealth. It generally takes years of disciplined and strategic financial planning to get there. If you have dreams of retiring, start saving as much as you can as early as you can. Set a goal and keep that in mind throughout your saving and investing journey. You’ll be making some sacrifices now, but it will be worth it when you retire someday.

 

Spoonie Essentials Box

(featured photo credit: Momma Without a Clue)

Spoonie Essentials Box is not like other subscription boxes you’ve seen before. Behind every box is a community for chronic illness warriors around the world to turn to for support and validation. This amazing group of people seek to make sure every chronic illness warrior knows that they are seen, heard, and loved. The core mission of Spoonie Essentials Box is a personal one to the entire staff, who all volunteer. Each of them has been inspired to do so by their own battles with chronic illness. CEO Brittani Daniels has battled DRESS Syndrome, Lupus, severe Crohn’s disease, and colon cancer all while running Spoonie Essentials Box.

“I realized there was a need for something tangible for people to feel like they were not invisible,” she explains. “This was greater because it doesn’t just give you a box. It gives you a community to belong to.”

We are giving away one Spoonie Essentials Box to a chronic illness warrior in southwest Virginia on our Facebook page on Monday, August 7. You can also purchase a box for the chronic illness warrior in your life by visiting www.spoonieessentialsbox.com. Pay close attention to what comes in those boxes, whether you are personally impacted by a chronic illness or not. You may learn something.

“Once you become educated on chronic illness you will become an advocate with us. You don’t just stand idly by while people are being mistreated and looked down upon,” Brittani says. “When you teach someone about what you’re going through, they can better understand you and help other people.”