A new store has recently opened in the streets of Bucks County in Pennsylvania — although residents of Hunterdon County may already know its name.
Stella Valle, a retail store founded by “Shark Tank” victors and East Amwell natives Ashley Dellavalle Jung and Paige Dellavalle Walker, opened in Flemington last November. While originally intended to serve as a pop-up shop for the holiday season, the store’s success inspired its owners, who are sisters and former U.S. soldiers, to remain in the area indefinitely.
Then, the coronavirus swept across the state — and forced Jung and Walker to reconsider their next steps.
“When coronavirus came about, we decided it didn’t really make sense to keep (the store),” Jung said. “It’s not like we didn’t do well in Flemington; we did do well. It was just about committing resources to one location and really focusing on that … and we realized we might not be able to meet our goals in Flemington.”
Jung and Walker closed the Flemington location in mid-March. But, only a few months later, they opened another store just across the Delaware River — which the sisters now identify as their “first real retail store.”
“Flemington was (originally) just a pop-up, and we didn’t spend a lot of resources getting it the exact way we wanted it. So we are considering this our first store,” Jung said. “We chose New Hope for a couple of different reasons … There’s just a lot of walk-by traffic, and the town gets really busy, and there’s also a lot of tourists there from the city, from Philadelphia, from a lot of the surrounding areas.”
“So we thought not only would we be able to cater to the local populations, but we would also get a lot of eyes on the brand, and we would be able to get more people to know about the brand,” Jung added.
Customers of Stella Valle can purchase gold, silver and brass necklaces, rings, bracelets, and earrings that are united by the business’s signature charms, including birthstones and initials. In recent months, the business has expanded its brand beyond jewelry to add loungewear — a move inspired by the pandemic.
“With coronavirus and everyone working from home and being more at their house, we thought it was a great opportunity to introduce loungewear,” Jung said. “And all of it has inspirational quotes embossed on the shirts … Even if you’re not going out — you’re still wearing this and thinking about the things you want to accomplish in your life.”
Features of the new store include curated product picks, featuring some of Walker and Jung’s favorite products like Martini glasses, robes and perfume. Stella Valle also hosts exclusive sales events for friends and family, and offers customers an opportunity to receive free products by hosting their own small events at the store.
Moreover, there is a transparent room in the back of the store where Walker and Jung photograph and film content for their online business to provide a “Behind the Scenes” experience for their customers.
“As the brand grows, people love seeing the Behind the Scenes,” Jung said. “I think that’s a really neat concept; you’re seeing a brand in the making right in the store.”
While approximately 90% of Stella Valle’s revenue is made through online sales, in-person sales have continued to exceed the co-founders’ expectations, according to Jung.
“Our margins are better in store than they are through our online business or by selling to other retailers,” Jung said. “Our goal was to test retail and see if it was a viable business model for our brand, and what we found is it is. And our margins are really good in retail, because it’s direct-to-consumer.”
“Customers love the product, which is harder to visualize online,” she added. “So having people get to see and touch and feel the product has been amazing, and just talking to our customers and getting their reactions and feedback, and learning what they want, has also been amazing.”
This success has encouraged Walker and Jung to consider opening stores elsewhere across the state.
“We’re considering Princeton, Long Branch — maybe for a pop-up in the summer or maybe long-term — Morristown,” Jung said. “So we have some locations that we’re scouting right now for our next location, which is really exciting.”
For now, the sisters and co-owners’ more immediate goals are primarily focused on the coming holiday season — and the ways their store can benefit shoppers throughout it.
“We’re really excited obviously for the holidays. You can get a gift for everyone from your grandma all the way down to your ten-year-old daughter, and a couple of things for men too,” Jung said. “We updated all of our packaging this year, so we got really beautiful custom boxes with special ribbon for the boxes. Everything we’ve done to get ready for the holiday season is really around packaging and being able to gift the product — a beautiful and inspirational gift.”
Stella Valle is located at 7 East Bridge St. in New Hope.
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Caroline Fassett may be reached at [email protected]