Hinsdale resident Kimberly Arquilla loves working with women, but she could never reconcile one simple act women often do—why dress up in beautiful clothes and jewelry, then, as a finishing touch, add a cheap barrette to your hair? Maybe it was her Southern upbringing (she’s from Texas) or perhaps it is her affinity for elegance and style, but Arquilla certainly knows how to put it all together.
So, when she was transitioning into a new phase in her life, she created Bella & Britt LLC, a company that creates exquisite, hand-crafted barrettes made from precious metals and stones. “I’ve always loved the texture, the look and feel of precious stones and metals, so I decided to design a piece of beautiful hair jewelry,” says Arquilla.
But her beautiful barrettes and soon-to-be-added brooches and belts were born out of more than mere observation of women’s fashion.
In 2015, after 18 years of marriage, Arquilla filed for divorce. She needed a creative outlet, combined with her already established business acumen, to distract her through the challenging times. Almost immediately, Arquilla recognized that she needed more help through this difficult journey, so she reached out to a friend to help her. “I needed to have a private conversation with someone who had gone through it before,” says Arquilla. “I call her my guardian angel. To this day, she checks in on me twice a day.”
As time went on, women started calling Arquilla and asking her for advice. “My friends were calling me and saying they had friends going through a hard time, not necessarily a divorce, but the loss of a child or their husband had recently lost a job,” says Arquilla. “They were transitioning to the next phase of their lives, and that can be scary.”
So Arquilla organized a monthly gathering at her home called “Women, Wine, and Wisdom.” Women brought an appetizer and a bottle of wine and listened to guest speakers. “One guest speaker was a positivity coach. I always tell people, and I say this to my kids, that you determine what you think,” says Arquilla. “No one else gets to decide that. And when you are transitioning, it’s important to stay positive and know that you are going towards your highest good.”
From these monthly gatherings, and as a show of gratitude towards her confidante, Arquilla’s b & b Foundation was born. “It’s a representation of what she offered me—compassion, confidentiality, and inspiration,” says Arquilla, who also believes that through helping others we ultimately help ourselves.
b & b Foundation is a conduit of resources for women to help them through any difficult transitions. Whether you are going through a divorce, the death of a child or spouse, loss of a job, or any other significant life-changing event, the foundation provides critical support for women in the community who are facing difficult times and are in immediate need of assistance.
Most importantly, it’s all completely confidential. Women call b & b Foundation and speak only to one point person, board member Denise Andrews. From that moment on, the client is assigned a number to ensure total confidentiality and privacy. The clients are directed to trusted professional resources specific to their needs. They are also put in touch with other women who have experienced the same type of transition or challenge. If necessary, the clients may be considered for interim financial resources within 48 hours of their request.
Some professional resources available to clients include wealth management; car buying; therapy or mediation; contractors; interior designers; pre-divorce filing information; mentors for loss of a child; health wellness and positivity; how to start your own company and more.
Recently, the b & b Foundation hosted a fashion show and luncheon called “Nautilus” featuring renowned life coach and author Andrea Owen as a guest speaker and honoring DuPage County Board candidate and women’s advocate Julie Renehan as their Woman of the Year. “She’s so dedicated to women’s services and I’m surprised it’s taken this long to honor someone like Julie,” says Arquilla of Renehan. “She’s amazing.”
The fashion show featured the Fall/Winter 2018 Collection called FIRE+ICE of designer and b & b Foundation board member Laura Delman. Delman’s clothes are made by and for the modern, resilient woman. “Delman’s own transition story is amazing and she encourages women to pick up and move on,” says Arquilla. “She is all about resilience.”
Another b & b Foundation board member, Nadine O’Malley, was intrigued with the concept of the organization from its inception but was even further impacted by the success of its inaugural luncheon and fashion show when guests lauded the idea as well. “Mentorship is huge for this foundation because there is always someone who has gone through what you are going through,” says O’Malley. “Passing on that positivity and being a friend to someone in need is truly priceless.”
Other board members include Lisa Allegra, Jennifer Latimer, Rose Ross, Susan Cobb (development), Kathy Harris (event), Danette Perry (resources), and Lisa Fitzgerald.
The future of b & b Foundation looks bright. With an ever-growing membership, another luncheon called “The Awakening” is in the works. Women will be able to choose from different classes offered at the luncheon and listen to experts in their fields discuss valuable information for women in transition. “When transitioning to new phases, it’s all about how we evolve,” says Arquilla, “We learn to let go yet realize we are moving to a better place.”
For more information, please visit bellaandbritt.com.